There is no respite for Mark Hughes. Having received a vote of confidence from his chairman earlier in the week, normal service was resumed on the pitch here as the Queens Park Rangers manager saw his side slump to a fifth league defeat of the season that leaves them anchored to the foot of the table.
"You're getting sacked in the morning" chanted West Bromwich Albion supporters as Hughes prowled the touchline. This was another miserable afternoon for the Welshman, who had no complaints about the outcome. QPR were completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes – they were fortunate to be only 2-1 behind at the interval – and, despite enjoying much more possession in the second half, the visitors carried little threat until Esteban Granero scored in injury time.
By that point, Youssouf Mulumbu had already added a third for Albion, sweeping home the substitute Gonzalo Jara Reyes's cut-back, at the end of a flowing move, to prompt many of the travelling fans to head for the exits.
Granero's fine goal gave QPR a flicker of hope and led to a frantic finale during which José Bosingwa could have grabbed an equaliser for QPR in the fifth minute of injury time, but the full-back profligately blazed over the bar.
The pained expression on Hughes's face needed no explanation. He has yet to taste victory on the road with QPR, who have picked up three points from a possible 51 away from home. "I'm disappointed because once again we've given ourselves too much to do," said Hughes, alluding to Monday night's home defeat by West Ham. "That's the second game running where we have conceded two poor goals in that initial period and you cannot afford to do that in the Premier League because you give yourselves a mountain to climb."
Tony Fernandes, the QPR chairman, was in for another busy night on Twitter, with angry QPR supporters calling for the manager to be changed, but Hughes believes there are mitigating factors and remains confident things will turn around. "We knew where we might possibly be at the beginning of the season because of the amount of changes that we've made," he said. "We're disappointed because we feel in a number of games we've played well and not got what we've deserved. Today, probably, given the way we started the game, we didn't deserve anything out of it."
It was a sign of things to come for QPR when they fell behind in the fifth minute. Mulumbu played a neat one-two with Peter Odemwingie and released Shane Long, who outpaced Clint Hill and delivered a cross on the run that was struck with such power and precision that all James Morrison needed to do was meet the ball with his forehead and direct it towards goal. Julío César, the QPR goalkeeper, had no chance.
Long could have doubled Albion's lead in the 13th minute, when roles were reversed, but the striker was unable to turn home the impressive Morrison's centre. It was only a temporary reprieve for QPR. Again Albion broke down the right, where Morrison delivered a cross that Ferdinand, whose first few touches were booed by some of the home fans, made a pig's ear of clearing. Zoltan Gera, from no more than 12 yards out, rolled the ball into the corner of the net.
Adel Taarabt, who was by far QPR's most dangerous player, gave his side something to cling to 10 minutes before the interval when he executed a splendid volley that flashed beyond Ben Foster, although César was soon called into action again at the other end, producing a fine save to deny Gera.
Albion lost their way a little in the second half, but there was much to celebrate come the end. This victory lifts them to fourth in the table and it is the first time since 1919 that they have won their opening four home games in the top flight. "I am not overly surprised," said Steve Clarke, Albion's manager. "But I am delighted, 14 points is a great return from the first seven games. But we won't get ahead of ourselves. Our primary objective is to ensure another season in the Premier League."