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Man City right to back Hughes

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Phil McNulty | 12:15 UK time, Monday, 10 November 2008

Manchester City - a club that has been built on a flimsy foundation of instability in the past - have come out in public support of manager Mark Hughes.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has moved swifly to silence growing whispers within football that City's unspectacular start to the season would persuade Abu Dhabi United Group to jettison Hughes and bring in their own man.

This qualifies as the dreaded vote of confidence - remember votes of confidence are always "dreaded" - and may even be regarded by some cynics as confirming their suspicions that Hughes is not booked in for the long haul at Eastlands.

But we have no cause to doubt the word of City's owners, and it is to be hoped they will stand by Hughes. They should keep an excellent emerging manager alongside them as they talk of building an Eastlands dynasty on their back of their financial firepower.

It is a sign of the madness consuming football that it is now almost commonplace to question a manager's position after a handful of poor results - and not all of the blame can be placed at the media's door.

Never mind a shelf life. Some of these guys don't even get on the shelf.

Remember how Martin Jol was suddenly a dead man walking at Spurs because they started last season by losing at newly-promoted Sunderland and then at home to Everton?

In my formative football-watching years, unless a manager was utterly hopeless and out of his depth (insert your own club's utterly hopeless and out-of-his-depth manager here) it was usually at least two years before noises of discontent would emerge from the boardroom.

Now it can be three months, or sometimes even three weeks.

City's start has not been what their fans or owners expected. And make no mistake it has not been what Mark Hughes expected.

But he showed at Blackburn Rovers that he is a manager of substance, capable of moulding a team, working the market and winning the respect of players.

Hughes has barely got his feet under the table at Eastlands. He has signed a three-year contract, and unless utter catastrophe befalls him, he should be allowed to fulfil it.

Once they started tapping into the history of this proud club, held in affection by pretty much everyone outside Old Trafford, the new owners should have learned very quickly what an adverse effect a revolving door managerial policy has had on City.

City's supporters will know the current watchwords must be continuity and stability. This will be provided by keeping Hughes and it appears that the owners are in agreement.

Hughes has had mixed fortunes in the transfer market, with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Robinho sure to be assets.

The jury, however, remains out on Tal Ben Haim and Jo - although Hughes' involvement in the signing of the Brazilian striker was purely incidental, with the deal having been put in place before he arrived.

And many times this season City have looked exactly what they are, which is a team and a club in transition.

They have mixed some flamboyant attacking football at home with soft centre displays on their travels. This will be particularly galling for a hard-nosed operator like Hughes, who made his Blackburn side tough to beat before adding the flourishes in the shape of men like Roque Santa Cruz.


He has a highly-regarded coach alongside him in Mark Bowen and the pair will be working to correct the problems.

Hughes also has the support of an outstanding academy system at City and it will be intriguing to see how he approaches the January transfer window.

He was shrewd at Blackburn, bringing in Benni McCarthy to great effect and bringing the best out of David Bentley's mercurial talent.

And in Santa Cruz, he pulled off one of the great transfer bargains when he lured him to Ewood Park from Bayern Munich for a meagre £3.5m. He may try to land him again in January, but it will cost a whole lot more to tempt Blackburn into a sale.

City's owners must, however, follow up their statement of faith in Hughes by giving him total freedom in the market.

If he prefers a Santa Cruz to a more box office name who might appeal to the Abu Dhabi United Group, then Hughes must get his way.

Hughes was placed under greater pressure to deliver once City became billionaires, but he is still the right man for the job, as he was when he was appointed.


  • Comment number 1.

    At least wait until Hughes can 'play' in the January transfer window.

    See who he brings in and releases and then judge him.

  • Comment number 2.

    Simple solution...SACK him...bring in Jim Gannon and let the good times roll.

  • Comment number 3.

    what you don't realise is that times have changed - city are in a different situation now and the new owners will want results soon

    spending £ 70 million - clueless on tactics ,
    losing 7 times already

    rumours at eastlands are there have been two emergency meetings already

  • Comment number 4.

    Slow news day eh?

  • Comment number 5.

    MANCITY players know that some of them will be out of the club come January.
    Those players dont normaly perform with all heart,they realize that they are going to leave why waste egergy.
    To make them do well if the toughest part.
    But not matter what,i promise you,Hughes will be told to leave.
    I dont really want to believe that these Arabs will keep him.
    They will spend alot and they will want alot,up until now hughes is having a tough time delivering it,so i guess Arabs will loose some truth on him.
    He is OUT.definitely.

  • Comment number 6.

    4. At 2:06pm on 10 Nov 2008, el-nickpcr-io wrote:
    Slow news day eh?


    and your point is ???

  • Comment number 7.

    Good article Phil and virtually word for word my comment on the Manchester Evening News web site. MH should only be judged after he has had a chance to strengthen the City side in January, the problem is that he may not get to January still in place.

    Players who think they may be replaced such has Dunne, Hart and Richards have lost form, Hughes seems to struggle to build a team around players he didnt sign, Robinho is brilliant, no doubt about that, but he is the icing on the cake type player, he was the wrong player for City at the wrong time.

    City now have some very tough games coming up and we need to start scraping together points, if we carry on losing then I doubt Hughes will keep his job.

    I look forward to City being mid table in January and Hughes given free reign to bring in HIS players, however, we MUST accrue points between now and then or else the revolving door will be moving again.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hughes only signed tal ben-haim.the january transfer will be a good place to analyse but if city stick with him then you will see good have really transformed they play great football nowadays unlike the days when they were relegation candidates.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hughes only signed tal ben-haim and corluka.the january transfer will be a good place to analyse but if city stick with him then you will see good have really transformed they play great football nowadays unlike the days when they were relegation candidates.

  • Comment number 10.

    To Citymikeok....sorry, that is just the sort of attitude that has put City in trouble so often.

    Hughes has lost seven games. Clearly compelling evidence he should go. Nonsense.

    Just go and ask older City fans about Ron Saunders, the classic stupid sacking.

    He was dismissed after five months between 1973 and 1974 and went on to prove what a wise decision this was by winning the League Cup and the title at Aston Villa.

    Saunders also took them to the semi-final of the European Cup in 1982 (which they eventually won) before resigning on a matter of principle.

  • Comment number 11.

    and what big name would the owners bring in to replace him? Ramos? Gullitt?? erm, Eriksson?

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes good article Phil you would think our fans would knoiw better you don't even have to go that far back either.Peter Reid finished 5th twice and was sacked 3 relegation battles later we were in Championship (2nd div then).Mark Hughes hasn't had chance to balance the side yet , we are missing Johnson in midfield as he has that bit of bite and was reason we supposedly that we let Barton go (though obviously a lot more baggage than that but at the time that was reason given).Mark Hughes should not be questioned until next Jan at the earliest is my opinion though I thought Sven was disposed of too early.

  • Comment number 13.

    The thing is, I think that Man City may take more time than say Chelsea to get to the top for a few reasons, mostly ones of timing.

    1) They had one day this summer to spend money and could only get Robinho.

    2) Who are they going to sign in January? It will surely be gambles to an extent because most 'top' players will be in the Champions League. Can they sign someone from a Champions League team who will be prepared to stay out of that competition for at least 18 months. (See below)

    3) They are looking unlikely to make the top four this season. (See above). Therefore with players and their short careers, which 'top' players will want to transfer to a non- Champions League club, and with no guarantee, given the status quo, of getting their the following season.

    This 'project' could take alot longer than people might think. Man City are no Chelsea and for various reasons should not be compared to them.

    In the meantime, I would stick with Hughes. Who else is there?

  • Comment number 14.

    No other names jump out - and why should they at this stage of Mark Hughes' reign?

    It will be interesting to see what transfer policy City pursue in January.

    They are, as Mr Blue Burns says, unlikely to reach the top four.

    Will they follow the policy of the top four though, and restrict buys to a minimum because they know all the quality players will almost certainly be tied up in the Champions League?

    It may be a case of Hughes making what you might call "holding" signings or buys for next season, and leave the real big money action until next summer.

    City's other problem is that they will have to throw money at players to divert them away from other clubs who are in the Champions League.

    Do not under-estimate them though after they pinched Robinho from under Chelsea's noses.

  • Comment number 15.


    Do not under-estimate them though after they pinched Robinho from under Chelsea's noses.
    Though the Robinho signing may be the exception to the rule.

    I am not coming out with sour grapes cause we missed out on him, but, on what advice did he go to Man City? I would suggest, rightly or wrongly, that most players would not go there in the same way that Robinho did.

    He wanted to be anywhere other than where he was and his faux pas in that interview shortly after his signing may have been more freudian that he would care to admit (or probably understand what I just said!).

    He had one day to decide. Other players may be in a position to take a longer view of developments at Man City and will decide accordingly.

  • Comment number 16.

    If Hughes does get the sack they should replace him with Gordon Ottershaw and rename the club Barstoneworth United.

  • Comment number 17.

    Spot on statement Mr McNulty and also good to see 'fans' like Citymikeok put in their place, we don't need them!!!

    I think most city fans (most of my mates that are blue that is!!!) are realistic about the time we will take to progress, and although we are going through a slightly frustrating patch i do have faith in Hughes and maybe more importantly I have faith that the board won't make a silly knee jerk reactions in such times.

  • Comment number 18.

    :23pm on 10 Nov 2008, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    To Citymikeok....sorry, that is just the sort of attitude that has put City in trouble so often.

    Hughes has lost seven games. Clearly compelling evidence he should go. Nonsense.

    Just go and ask older City fans about Ron Saunders, the classic stupid sacking.

    He was dismissed after five months between 1973 and 1974 and went on to prove what a wise decision this was by winning the League Cup and the title at Aston Villa.

    Saunders also took them to the semi-final of the European Cup in 1982 (which they eventually won) before resigning on a matter of principle.


    ok phil - but why pick on me !!!

    i am being honest

    i am not the only one who is questioning him

    mark hughes's tactics are questionable

    do you support city ?

    do you go to their games ?

    do you pay good money to watch them ?

    do you listen to the radio commentries when you can't attend the games ?

    do you love city through and through

    i have been a city fan for 42 years and i am entiled to a honest opinion if you don't mind

    losing 7 times in this fashion is just not good enough

    spending £ 70 million for what - one point off relegation

    so you think is good do you phil ??

  • Comment number 19.

    If Robinho had gone to Chelsea I don't think we would be joint top of the league at the moment. There were uncertainties before he came just how good he was but now he is here he was well worth the money. If Hamann was a few years younger then City would have probably done much better in the 3 games that they have lost recently. Also we lost to Spurs too so there is nowt wrong with that. :)

  • Comment number 20.

    17. At 3:07pm on 10 Nov 2008, PaulCalf wrote:
    Spot on statement Mr McNulty and also good to see 'fans' like Citymikeok put in their place, we don't need them!!!


    thank you so much !!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    As pointed out above, although Hughes is now dealing with the expectations of running a big money club, people forget they had this cash for only 1 day before the lid on the cookie jar got slammed shut.

    Who exactly do the fans want him to have signed while the transfer window is shut. They are aware he is restricted to emergency loans only right?

    Yes it is his job to coach and man manage and get the best out of players, but the fact that a number of them aren't his players should not be lost. They know who they are and whilst some will play to put themselves in the shop window, some will loose heart and dry up, and there isn't much Hughes can do about this till Jan, maybe even next summer.

    Think about it, if he'd had the cash from the start, would Tal Ben Haim and Jo still have been on the shopping list, or would he have looked elsewhere? If those signings don't work out for the "new" City, then they will be judged as failures and Hughes will be blamed but few will remember they were signed under the old order of a theoretically wealthy club that had most of its sugar daddies assets frozen.

  • Comment number 22.

    I've only two words to add to Phil's blog... the trouble is, they have to be said with a half smile, a bit of a shrug, and Blue Moon playing in the background...

    ... Typical City

  • Comment number 23.

    CITYMIKEOK...I am not picking on you, I am just responding to your comments.

    And no, I am not a City fan and obviously do not pay to watch them.

    I do, however, have an opinion on them and I cannot believe supporters of a club that has been wrecked on too many occasions by instability are even thinking about change again so soon after a new manager has arrived.

    Give Mark Hughes a chance, and if I know Manchester City fans, the vast majority will do.

    If Hughes did go, who would you seriously replace him with?

    And do not say Mourinho. It won't happen.

  • Comment number 24.

    Man City are a team right now in free fall and will continue to be in free fall whether they sack their manager or not. Hope they sack him. Would love to see our beloved nighbours in tatters!

  • Comment number 25.

    23. At 3:25pm on 10 Nov 2008, Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    CITYMIKEOK...I am not picking on you, I am just responding to your comments.

    And no, I am not a City fan and obviously do not pay to watch them.

    I do, however, have an opinion on them and I cannot believe supporters of a club that has been wrecked on too many occasions by instability are even thinking about change again so soon after a new manager has arrived.

    Give Mark Hughes a chance, and if I know Manchester City fans, the vast majority will do.

    If Hughes did go, who would you seriously replace him with?

    And do not say Mourinho. It won't happen.


    we will have to wait and see

    city need consistency and quickly

    i did not want swen to go and granted he went before the club was taken over

    the bcc gmr phone in last night was interesting and the majority of folk were quwestiong hughes's tactics ( including the commentry team and this has been a consistent problem

    what other conclusion can be drawn

    i am all for stability

    if hughes stays then fine ...

    but if he doesn't , dont say i little bird told you so

  • Comment number 26.


    If Robinho had gone to Chelsea I don't think we would be joint top of the league at the moment. There were uncertainties before he came just how good he was but now he is here he was well worth the money. If Hamann was a few years younger then City would have probably done much better in the 3 games that they have lost recently. Also we lost to Spurs too so there is nowt wrong with that. :)
    Well, we'll never know what if Robinho had gone to Chelsea. However, it's difficult to see how Chelsea could get much better right now. They and Liverpool are setting a cracking pace and, although I don't have facts to hand, I would be surprised if there were many/any seasons where teams had more than 29 out of 36 points from the start.

    Maybe he loves the big fish in small pond adulation? He wouldn't get that at Chelsea where there are already big characters who have proved themselves week in week out performers, whatever the circumstances and conditions.

  • Comment number 27.


    Im goin to be a bit presumptuous here and answer your qns for Phil, as I doubt he will since the answer to most of them is fairly obvious. However since you have asked them, im goin to stick my oar in as you clearly don't see why they aren't the best qns.

    @ Phil, hope you dont mind.


    ok phil - but why pick on me !!!

    He didn't he defended his position, but why reply just to you? Because your the one that posted on his blog.

    i am being honest.

    Fair play, so is Phil

    i am not the only one who is questioning him

    No, however that does not add strength to your arguement. Weight of numbers does not always mean correct opinion. There are many that agree with Phil too. The arguement should be purly about whether Mark Hughes is the right man to manage city atm, not about how many people have opinions which way. The arguement should be decided by consideration of facts and evidence, not purely opinion.

    mark hughes's tactics are questionable

    All managers tactics are questionable. However at Blackburn Hughes has shown a tactical awareness. Whether he has the players to work with at city in the way he likes his teams to play is however debateable. Give the man time to form his own squad before you judge his tactics. Also watch the games he lost again, (Im goin to assume you saw them once already) was there any bad luck or examples of mistakes you just cant see coming? Was there any good luck to the other side? Were there tactical mistakes, or did you just loose to a team putting in a better performace on the day, remember that CAN happen, theres 11 guys out there trying to stop you winning to.

    do you support city ?

    Does it matter, he still watches a LOT of football and his opinion is probably more informed without the bias of being a fan than being a supporter.

    do you go to their games ?

    On occasion probably, he is paid to comment on football after all. He also watches other teams and will be in a position to comment on how well a club is doing better than most fans (in theory)

    do you pay good money to watch them ?

    See above, but why would that make his opinions more or less valid? (Less relivant maybe, but not less valid)

    do you listen to the radio commentries when you can't attend the games ?

    See above, remember you are having a go at a football journalist here?

    do you love city through and through

    Would it matter? How does your love for a club make your opinion more valid? IMO (not phils) itjust makes you more prone to panic when not getting your own way.

    i have been a city fan for 42 years and i am entiled to a honest opinion if you don't mind

    Yes, so is Phil. Being entitled to an opinion however is different from being entitled to have everyone agree with you, thats the thing with opinions, your free to be wrong too.

    losing 7 times in this fashion is just not good enough

    Good enough for what? You dont expect to win the league this season do you? If you do, that pretty much sums up your understanding of the game, 42 years or not.

    spending ? 70 million for what - one point off relegation

    How much of that did he have control over, and how much was just spent on players and dropped in his lap. You are also 7 points off a UEFA cup place. Its a tight league this season and no one is dropping away fast. Deal with it, you are NOT automatically entitled to stay up, you will but do not assume that it is the right of established clubs to remain, and of the new blood to go back where it came from. ((Again a personal comment, Not Phils, hooray for Hull, you boys up there did need a wake up call didnt you))

    so you think is good do you phil ??

    He never said it was good, he said it wasnt bad enough to be sacking Hughes so soon, give him a chanceand stop the instability plaguing your club. Which clubs have most success atm in the PL? Which managers have been in their jobs longest? Coincidence? You know close Sir Alex got to getting the sack at the early days of his reign at Man U dont you? Or dont your 42 years in football cover other teams?

  • Comment number 28.

    Hooray for time delay in moderation. My post appeared after Phils, oh well.

  • Comment number 29.

    Maybe Hughes is finding it difficult to work with so called bigger names? Could this be a possibility?

  • Comment number 30.

    Having witnessed City go through Managers like they're going out of fashion for a LONG time now (thanks for reminding me about the awful Peter Reid sacking decision #12) it's by no way, shape, or form safe to say that we have 'learnt our lesson'!

    As we all know anything can happen in football.

    I sincerely hope that the owners do wait a while and give Sparky a chance, but so far he has failed to dispell the 'inconsistency' ghosts that have stalked us for about 30 years now.

    No matter who manages the players, we are not going to get the results we need unless the players themselves stop playing with fear (Stephen Ireland the only exception).

    It is by far about time we had a team of players who were not scared that they may lose their place and actually played like they deserve it.

    If Sparky is allowed to stay for his 3 years and is given free reign to do how he pleases, there will have never have been a better opportunity for City to fulfil their potential, and no excuses if we don't.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is the downside to the money sloshing into the Premier League from abroad. Managers are now expected to do much,much better than is realistic and so get sacked a lot quicker than they should be. Any successful club has given managers time to show what they can do and so last at least two seasons in the main but it's stupid how the revolving door mentality is in full spin nowadays.

  • Comment number 32.

    28. At 3:43pm on 10 Nov 2008, donprestoni wrote:
    Hooray for time delay in moderation. My post appeared after Phils, oh well.

    Complain about this comment


    ghosh i have got a ghost writer called

    donprestoni !!!

  • Comment number 33.


    You amuse me, a great deal actually. You whine and moan about Hughes and then say

    'city need consistency and quickly'

    Well im sorry you can't have it both ways. This is the sort of deluded nonesense that usually is the territory of Tottenham and West Ham fans. It doesn't matter who you are, if you spend millions and millions on changing the team in one go you simply will not be consistant at the start, and that is what has happened with city. Get a stronger grip on reality and stop living in a dream land.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is only a news item because Mark Hughes has to go meet the owners for a scheduled meeting. If this wasn't happening I doubt there would be a news item.

    A vote of confidence is meaningless. What owner is going to say "actually, we think he's rubbish and if he doesn't start winning soon, he's for the chop"? It would undermine the dressing room and put even more pressure on him. Of course they'll say they have full confidence, it's a stock answer.

    When Mike Ashley bought Newcastle I think he wanted to bring his own man in (KK) and poor Sam was out on his ear even though he hadn't done much wrong. So it's entirely conceivable that Hughes could get the sack, even if Man City were at the top of the league. If they have all this money it's no big deal.

    Unfortunately when you bring big money into football, you have to expect high manager churn rates. No one is prepared to wait for success these days.

    I think people need to adjust their expectations rather than harp on about the good 'ol days... :-)

  • Comment number 35.

    Sorry Phil, but his record isn't outstanding in any sense, his record at Blackburn isn't that much better than Souness if at all (in fact Souness managed a cup win), I'd argue Allardyce did a better job with Bolton than Hughes ever did with Blackburn and City fans would've been up in arms to see Big Sam picked to replace Eriksson.

    They should never have got rid of Eriksson (who's record frankly makes Hughes' look what it is), Hughes is an average manager in every sense of the word, Eriksson at least produced a City side that could defend, which is the bedrock on which you build a league challenge, City have gone backwards. Hughes now is reminiscent of Ossie Ardiles at Spurs, City have the potential to thrash teams when it goes right but look amateurish when it goes wrong.

    Hughes won't last the season, whether the fans like it or not.

  • Comment number 36.

    @32 Not sure what your getting at there Mike, just pointing out why some of your qns don't make an huge amount of sense. I just used the simple act of answering your qns to do this, even though they weren't addressed to me. I also pointed out that a fair few of my answers appeared in a similar vein to those of the OP who posted while I was writing.

    To be YOUR ghost writer, I'd have to write your posts for you, which given that I appear to disagree with you would be quite hard.

    I notice that you have since said:

    if hughes stays then fine ...

    which contrasts quite a bit with:

    what you don't realise is that times have changed - city are in a different situation now and the new owners will want results soon

    spending ? 70 million - clueless on tactics,
    losing 7 times already

    rumours at eastlands are there have been two emergency meetings already

    What exactly is your opinion? Should Hughes stay or go. If you want rid of him, who would you bring in who would do a better job. Remember its not just goin to be the best players tied to CL clubs.

  • Comment number 37.

    Excellent article Phil, shame you're not a chairman yourself! As a United fan, I actually hope City do well under my childhood hero Hughes (the man who got me interested in football at the age of 4, mainly because I share the same name!).

    Anyway, for me any manager should be given at least 2 years in the job - one season for finding their feet, getting to know the club and players, and another to prove that they have the ability to take them forward. Even then, you should not expect to wipe the board - if it were Liverpool or Arsenal it would be different, as they are already knocking on the door, but City have been miles away from that group and therefore it will take more time.

    The danger for Hughes is the new owners might want instant or at least quick success - I personally think, regardless of money, he's got a 3-4 year job to get City into the Champions League. What the owners have to understand is that the right players aren't always going to be available at the same time, therefore Hughes is unlikely to be completing his 'jigsaw' for a couple of seasons yet, let alone now, January or next summer. He's got a solid foundation for a decent team there and I just hope for his sake they allow him to pick his own targets - we've seen numerous times how disasterous it can be when chairmen decide transfer targets. They often don't see the manager's vision for tactics, style of play, how the signing should complement the players around him etc. The classic example of this is Shevchenko, one of the best strikers of the past decade failing because he was in a team that did not suit him and playing under a manager who knew that. It ruined his career and I have no doubt it contributed to Mourinho's downfall at Chelsea too.

    What would you say the likelihood is of Hughes being at City next August?

  • Comment number 38.

    Well Phil, to be perfectly honest I am not the biggest fan of your blog mainly becuase you are always bias in your articles though always well composed. so forgive me if my comments do reflect the prejudice . As citymikeok has stated, you do not pay a dine to go watch any of city's matches so you obviously don't understand what it feels like when a donkey falls in the same hole twice.

    Above, you listed the positives aspects of Mark Hughes manegreial carrier in the past few years and I do appreciate and respect that. But if the supposedly quality and top manager is commiting unacceptable tactical errors week in week out by playing players out of position, then I see nothing wrong with paying fans making queries within the boudaries of their rights and rational thoughts.

    I am not a city fan and only watch their matches mainly because of Robinho as I have always done since he played alongised Alex of Fernabache in Santos, they are both terrific and amazing players to watch. Mark Huges is well similar to Sam Allardyce, he is a good manager but not the top quality manager that can take city fans and owners to where there heart desire. His ability to manage top players is without doubt questionable, everytime he goes out to the press, all he mention repeatitively is that they need time and fans should not expect much, is that a word of comfort to the fans? i guess no. he had the whole summer to spend, even though not as much as he has got now. At least he had the funds to bring in 4 - 5 players, a good manager should have watched videos and picked out where the weaknesses are before he starts shopping arround for players.

    Playing Micah Richards at left back consecutively in two matches after publicly accepting that the first was a mistake is well unheard of, I wouldnt do that in my sunday league.

    Teams have come from behind to beat them in the past few weeks. Don't good managers think about shutting down after taking 2 -0 lead? Inconsistent selection and formation is also a killing disease in city (Rafa could tell you alot about that) there are a lot to comments and will fill all this pages if I list them all, I guess you will not agree with me that Sven was far better than Hughes and the current results speak volumes, Huges is a mid table kind of manager and doubt if he can get city close to there future ambitions. yes it is quite early to judge after 10games but I am sure you are one of those people supporting Ramos that he needs more time when clearly he doesn't, Harry Redknapp has picked 10 out of 12 points!! what a remarkable change a manager could bring to a team in few hours.

    And lastly, Hughes cannot attract big players as he has not had the opportunity to manage any before. You asked in your comments that who should they bring if Hughes goes? Quite few people that I know of Phil... Frank Rijkaard, Roberto Mancini and many more on the wish list will definitely do this job better.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Phil

    I agree that managers should be given a chance, it's clear that things haven't quite gelled at Man City yet, I reckon Hughes will probably need to lay down the law at some point and clearly stamp his authority, on a couple of players with larger egos.

    I kind of have the impression despite a couple of pieces of sublime skill that the Brazilians at the club really aren't taking their task seriously enough.

    I must say the way things are going at the moment with so many clubs facing the danger of the drop that this year could be a bumper year for managerial sackings with owners and directors scared silly that it might be their club that faces being thrown off the cash cow bandwagon.

    I reckon it's going to be a very eventful year in that respect , in fact it's already been quite eventful hasn't it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hughes' main transfer targets in January should be defensive. Going forward at times City do look top 4 material but as soon as it is going the other way they look at best low mid-table material.

    In terms of suitable and realistic targets I can't think of any but a more consistent keeper, a left back and centre back would be my 3 main targets if I was Hughes.

  • Comment number 41.

    Can someone please explain to me why being a fan or paying to watch a game makes you more likely to be correct? That's 2 people that have said that now.

    As far as I can tell, being a fan of the club being discussed does mean you are more likely to see games when compared to fans of other sides, but compared to say the coaching staff at a club or sports journalists, do you honestly think that paying to watch makes you more likely to be right?

    As far as I can see, whilst an emotional attachment will make you desire success for your club more, it also encourages fear/anxiety/panic if everything isn't going to the "we will win the league this year" plan. I can see how that effect would be amplified if you actually owned the club, but that does not make it the correct approach. Weren't you taught to try and clear your head and think to solve problems as kids? Good luck guys, but Ireally think that sacking Hughes would be a mistake, not least for the signals that would send out to prospective managers about the new regime.

  • Comment number 42.

    Lets get one thing right from the start Mark Hughes is not a bad manager.

    However, when i think of the phrase horses for courses i think of the current situation that City find themselves in.

    When Hughes took this job at City it was clear to most football fans that the stance of City had changed from the 'flash in the pan' Sinawatra begining where he promised the same that the Arab owners are currently.

    Hughes was brought in to steady the ship and work on maybe a much longer projected success plan. The signings he made like Tal Ben Haim were a good indication of that. Would Erikkson have been looking to sign Ben Haim at the start of his reign at City? probably not.

    If you listened to what the new owners said at the start, they were talking about marketing success as much as they were success on the pitch.

    Football is as much these days about the personality and reputation of players, but more importantly the Manager, than it is about there skills. A manager that is perceived to lack personality (Alan Curbishley, Avram Grant?) is not a marketable commodity for any club.

    Look at Argentina this week appointing Diego Maradona as international manager. I think we all know that he is not even the 10th best Argentine coach in the world but he now holds the number one job. However, how many football fans could name the previous 5 coaches of the Argentina team?

    I fear that Hughes is not a big enough marketable name in the Asian markets for the new owners. Partly due to Wales never having any international success or qualifications for World cups.

    I think it will not be long before the name Frank Riikaard is put in the frame or this job.

    Hughes in my opinion should be sacked but not because he has failed, but because he is not the man for the current requirements of the new owners. Hughes in my opimion would be more suited to a club like Newcastle, Aston Villa, or Tottenham (not that i think their current managers are doing a bad job.)

    In a funy twist of fate i think Sven would have been a better option to manage city right now. Lets be honest Hughes has never had to manage under the weight of expectation before which is ultimately the difference between good and great managers.

  • Comment number 43.

    Donprestoni, I could sniff that you are fronting for Phil, perhaps you are just a big fan of his blog.

    But, with the huge amount of money and risk involved in football investment nowadays, if you still think that time is the cheapest commodity available in football, then I am afraid you are living in a fantasy world. We all understand that success does not come in a wake of dawn, but potentials and signs of positive changes in the team will perhaps put the fans and owners in comfort zone.

    You keep moaning that Hughes needs time cos he has proven himself at Blackburn before... Does that guarantee the same streak of success iat city? guess nope.. City is not the same as Blackburna dn I am sure we all know by now that they both have different ambitiion come the end of season. As I have stated earlier, Hughes tactical error has been persistent and not one off.

    The question is can he afford to drop points against the likes of bolton, borough and spurs and expect to pick against Arsenal, United and Hull!! Continuity in manager certainly brings success but If Ramos had been in spurs for another 4weeks then they probably would have lost hope of staying in the premiership by now.

  • Comment number 44.

    Derby dumped an utterly hopeless and out of his depth manager not that long ago.

    That manager's next club, Hull City, are currently sitting sixth in the Premier League.

  • Comment number 45.

    These Chelsea fans make me laugh, ha ha ha. Do people honestly believe that Man City won't be able to buy big players. Money talks and that has been proved time and time again. Look at Chelsea and Blackburn for instance. Yes, they will have to pay over the odds, but they will get big players.

    Also, players moving there will look at the other signings they have made and understand that they are a team that is going to do well.

    This big four is about to be ended. Man City will break into the top four next year. Everyone needs to get their houses in order

  • Comment number 46.

    I do not understand the people calling for Mark Hughes' dismissal. Sure, the start to this season has not been all they'd hoped for. You still shouldn't forget though that many new players have been brought it and it's going to take time to create a great team. Mark Hughes is the best trainer for Manchester City and they should stick by him. You might not be the best this season, but if you give Mark Hughes the opportunity, you will be the best in not too much time.

  • Comment number 47.

    I've been reading y'all's comments with interest for the past few minutes and I must give you my two-cent's worth. Big, big money is a needed but dangerous commodity in sports these days. Over here (the US), the NFL, NBA, NHL and the failing fast MLB have all succumbed to this malady over the last forty years I've been here. I came here in the first wave of "foreigners" for the old NASL and we were grateful of the $50 per game we got, considering that Jack Marshall my old Blackburn Rovers manager offered my dad (not me) 10 quid a WEEK for me to sign pro forms. Now we have multi-million pound academies producing good players who, as soon as they show any sign of promise, either get sold or move on to more glamorous clubs to help the finances of their home club. Take Blackburn as an example, I don't think the population of the town has changed much since I was there in the early '60's (80, 90,000?). ManU have almost that number in their stands every week! So why do Rovers even exist? Y'all know the answer, so I won't even go there, but if Everton can produce a Wayne Rooney or two, and Blackburn a Matt Derbyshire, David Dunne, Damien Duff, Paul Gallagher and others then you'd think they would have enough to survive and even more, to win trophies. But the Blackburns, Wigans, Hulls, Boltons and a bunch of others are simply "player-factories," producers of talent for those teams higher up the food chain. Mark Hughes and City? Well, Mark cut his teeth on day-to-day managing at Blackburn. Someone else has already mentioned how Fergie was one game away from the sack in his early ManU days and then stumbled into the Beckham, Butts, Giggs, Neville, Scholes treasure trove and never looked back. In today's game, those guys would have been sold or loaned out to get "playing experience." The tragedy is that the EPL is currently overrun by foreign players, and foreign money and it needn't be so. We need ENGLISH ownership; ENGLISH stewardship; and ENGLISH players back in the EPL. And Tom Hicks, a fellow Dallasite, needs to get his mind away from Liverpool and get his concentration back on making the Texas Rangers Baseball Team at least competitive (the ONLY team in MLB not to have won a post-season series in their entire history!), and the Dallas Stars Hockey Team productive. As for Mark Hughes? One of the brightest, most ambitious young managers in the game. They said he couldn't do it for Wales. He did. They said he'd fail at Blackburn. He solidified them from the mess that Souness left them with. City? Well I don't know who's in their Academy, but if there's someone there with promise, Hughs'y (like my old playing mate and friend Frannie Lee) will call them out. Just give him time ...

  • Comment number 48.

    Some of the so called City fans have become very fickle since we became very wealthy. Success does not happen over four months !!!! Hughes needs time, time that very few managers at City have ever had. We've got the money, we've got a decent manager, how about a bit of patience from the fans !? Think about it, we've been through so much in the past including the envious record of the most managers in one season and visit a down to league 2 from which we only escaped from injury time goals and then penalties ... PLEASE chill out and see where we are at the end of this season .... all the top teams are a work in progress none were an over night success why the heck should City be.
    We have an awful lot going for us from the money at the top through the manager down to the acadamy. Patience, the course of true love never ran smoothly and if you're a real City fan and love the club you should know this already ..... Curb your expectations you're not Newcastle fans!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    As a Manchester United fan, i am not really bothered what happens to the Citizens.
    But i will jump to the defence of Sparky, a United legend and a managerial legend in the making.
    He only had one day of a transfer window to bring in players and i am not entirely sure whether it was his choice to bring in Robinho, but boy has he got the Brazilian playing?!
    With time, like he was allowed at Blackburn, without questioning from the Chairman and fans when results were going against them, he turned them into a team that turned United over twice in a season.
    I honestly don't believe there are any other managers around in the same mould as Hughes, and if City don't want him, then he's more than welcome at United in a few years when Fergie hangs up his jacket (hopefully not too soon).
    At least City are playing with flair and exciting the neutrals, i even enjoy watching them this season.
    Come on you blues fans, don't jump on the bandwagon, you'll regret it if you force him out and get another foreign manager in the mould of Ramos, who couldn't cut it in the Prem.
    Good article McNalty!

  • Comment number 50.


    your phrase "curb your expectations you're not newcastle fans !!!!"
    is not true as we do not think we are the best team in the pl. we used to think that with keegan and the 1995/1996 team when we came second but i agreed to the first part of your comment then you started to stereotype us and we do not deserve that as it is all ready hard enough for us with the club going no were with fat man (mike ashley) in charge. newcastle united fans do not think that we are the best team in england. Back to the point i think that mark hughes should not be forced/sacked from man city. it was a similar situation at newcastle with sam allerdace as he was sacked by mike ashley as he is to fat and wants immediate success and does not want to spend money on big players. man city fans started to moan last year and sacked sven when he did not deserve it either. just a year before he was sacked yous wher lucky to avoid the drop but you wanted immediate success but it takes time to build a trophy winning squad

  • Comment number 51.

    The pressure on current managers is incomparable to those of yesteryear due to the finances associated with top flight football. Bearing in mind that many FC's are actually PLC's makes this somewhat understandable. Being a realist I can see why managers are under pressure if they have a run of poor results.

    Man City are in a position where they have to qualify for European football on a consistent basis. They cannot afford to have write off seasons. Without Uefa or CL football they will struggle to recruit the players to take them forward. It would then become a catch 22 because no matter how wealthy you are, you aren't going to get the best players in (see QPR).

    Man City are now one of the wealthiest clubs in the world and I question Hughes' credentials to manage them effectively. Yes they would be silly to sack him mid-season but ultimately I don't beleive he is the man suited to City since the takeover.

  • Comment number 52.

    I give it to the end of the season. City will win nothing, the new owners will get impatient and will throw money at larger profile managers.

    Nothing against Sparky, he's just not got enough experience under his belt and has yet to make a name for himself. He's a top bloke and will succeed over time, but not at Man City.

  • Comment number 53.

    Come on fellow City folk see some sense here. Hughes has only been here five mins. In that time he was probably promised the earth by Thaskin only to see that shattered as his wealth was tied up. Jo was fausted on him. So who's he actually signed??? Don't forget he was working in what he thought was a tight budget, so Tal Ben Haim £5m, not a bad buy for a centre back these days, you'd pay that for a Championship player and he's got Premiership experience. Zaballeta, good signing, solid, a bit rash, getting used to the Prem. SWP for £8m what a bargain, what a player, bet Liverpool others are thinking why didn't we get him!!! And then there's Robby for £32m. Lets face it, he probably wasn't Hughes 1st choice, he was one he was told was available by the agents! Well good on them, what a player.
    Right now for injured list, Benjani, Vassell, Petrov, Johnson if we'd taken them out of our team last season we'd have been in a relegation battle. Hughes has had to pitch the youngsters in, Sturridge and Evans, you can't put two youngsters in attack, but he's had too, Jo's not fit enough yet and has all the hallmarks of another Samaras! Get behind Hughes and City and bide our time to get to the top. We're playing good attacking football (when we're allowed too). But we need a holding midfielder, Steven Ireland's working his socks off, but he needs help. Fernandes ain't in the league of player we need at the moment, but he's young and will learn. Unfortunately as the scouser said above, Hammans too old. Now defence, please, please for the life of me someone explain why we're still playing Garrido, he can't defend, he proved that at Chelsea last season, he was at fault for at least four of those goals and should never have been allowed to pull on the treasured blue jersey again, send him back to Spain quick!!! He's the reason why Dunny had a mare, coz he couldn't do both the job of a centre back and a left back. Sven saw this after half a season and played Ball instead! We'd be better playing Zaballeta at left back and Richards at right back with Dunny and Nedum in the middle (and while Dunny's serving his ban Ben Haim). Richards and SWP up the right, Petrov (when he's fit again) and Zaballeta on the left. Now don't laugh at this one, but if I was Hughes I'd be knocking on Liverpools door with a £35m offer for Gerrard. Liverpools owners are skint, they can't even put a spade in the ground, bet they'd snap our hands off. With Gerrard at City Torres would be easy pickings in the summer and he wouldn't have to play the lone man up front chasing the long ball! :-@

  • Comment number 54.

    Six words: Alan Ball, Frank Clark, Phil Neal.

    Hughes was the right man in the summer and is the right man now. Remember Fergie's inauspicious start to life at the swamp and the stick Wenger got on his arrival.

  • Comment number 55.

    i agree for the most part with 52:

    Hughes has a little time to play at managering a potentialt top club. however if recent events are anything to go by in terms of billionaires buying clubs then they will want to see imediate results otherwise a new face with a higher profile will be brought in.

    with such an investment and ethic ( which is hardly anything to do with football as we all know) they will be ruthless in terms of who they see fit to bring glory to City .

    I mean no disrepect to you City lads at all for good luck to you, living all those years under the shadows of your neighbours i think its great you have a chance to join in the big time as it were

    but i do not see M Hughes as your manager for very long.

  • Comment number 56.

    It's well and good saying Hughes needs time, and that may well be the case, but the reality is that there are managers out there who *don't* need time. Sure, they'll be expensive, but if City can afford one of them, as they surely can, where's the benefit in waiting for Hughes to (maybe) come on stream years hence?

    It's hard to see how Hughes fits in with the new club owners' vision of the future, whichever way you look at it. His prior form is moderate success, with journeymen players ... eventually. The expectation now is Champions League, using flair players, ASAP.

    Square peg in a round hole.

  • Comment number 57.

    We must remember that Hughes was appointed by the previous incumbent, Shinawatra. Add to that the mixed results on the pitch and you've got a manager on his last legs.

    As soon as the Arabs came in, I said I feared for Hughes' job. Sadly, he is not a big name who can tempt the Kaka's and Aguero's of this world to relocate to Eastlands.

    And whilst there's managers like Rijkaard, Mancini and Deschamps still looking for a job, Hughes' tenure will always be under threat.

  • Comment number 58.

    Phil - a well constructed argument - I agree

    As an expat Blue - i suffer arguably even more in the twilight hours watching City !
    I do get to games when I am over, including the start of both Sven and Sparky's reign.
    Like most Blues I wanted Sven to stay , we can't make the same mistake with Hughes

    The most encouraging aspect is the entertaining football and goals scored - it must be easier for him to work on his core competency of tough and hard to beat; given time & opportunity to mould his own squad. January is an opportunity to prove this + much needed return of the likes of Johnson and Petrov. ( Bojinov looked good at Stockport pre -season !)

    Wins against Arsenal and United ( again , again , again ) would change sentiment !!

  • Comment number 59.

    Firstly I do not beleive that foreign investors are good for the game. I fear for the prem league and football in general when foreign investors' buy our clubs. I do not see it as good for English club or international football. It is transforming in to a mercenary indusrty. Players do not come for the love of the club, the experience of english football, they come for money!!! Robinho is a prime example of what our game is transforming in to.
    Mark Hughes IS the man for the job, he has the potential to become a class manager but I wonder if there is any truth in the support shown by the owners. He now has a team of players who know they will be playing elsewhere come January when the cash is flashed, that said they should still be playing and putting themselves in the window......good blog Phil and I hope they keep faith with Sparky, he has the ability but will they become Enlands Real Madrid??

  • Comment number 60.

    Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be offered £15m a year to manage Manchester City. (The Sun)

    from the bbc gossip column

    enough to make you choke on your cornflakes ???

  • Comment number 61.

    Im actually embarrased by a lot of the comments coming from so-called city fans of late, have you all forgotton where we have come from ??? I mean what the hell were you expecting to happen just because we have come into money... Mark Hughes has been in charge for 12 games and your all calling for his head ! Get a grip lads and lasses.

    I wholeheartedly agree with phil and donprestoni (who IMO talks a lot of sense)

    The likes of citymikeok are unfortunately the loud minority who are feeding the medias appetite of churning out stories that are just shi ite and hence causing panic amongst on the fence supporters.

    My message to all city fans is.....BE PATIENT and never forget where we came from, Mark Hughes will get it right he just needs time.

  • Comment number 62.

    60. At 09:04am on 11 Nov 2008, citymikeok wrote:
    Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will be offered ?15m a year to manage Manchester City. (The Sun)

    from the bbc gossip column

    enough to make you choke on your cornflakes ???

    Not really no, because it's clearly nonsense. If you're as old as you need to be to have supported city for 42 years then you should know that tabloids rarely publish anything within the realm of reality. Get real.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ 60. Tells me everything I need to know, a sun newspaper reader, Id rather read toiletwall humour its probably more informative!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    63. At 10:08am on 11 Nov 2008, BagOfSquirrels wrote:
    @ 60. Tells me everything I need to know, a sun newspaper reader, Id rather read toiletwall humour its probably more informative!!!


    actually i read it on the bbc gossip column website

  • Comment number 65.

    ive heard talk of us offloading elano... what??? he was our best player by a mile last season !

    Must GO: Jo, Vassell, Ben Haim, Garrido, Ball, Benjani, Hamann

    Key Players to stay: Robinho, Ireland, SWP, Petrov, Johnson, Richards

    For gods sake guys give hughes a break. he'll sort it out dont worry

    we must simply MUST sign ronaldo on a free in january to add experience and skill to our attack, there is far too much dead wood to offload in our squad.

    Targets we should look at: Aguero, Wayne Bridge, Woodgate, Ledley King, Santa Cruz, Van der Vaart, Simao

  • Comment number 66.

    Clearly, citymikeok is not ok!
    To the question of Mark Hughes managerial abilities, the truth is, only time will tell. Most of us will admire Hughes from his playing days; however, can we really form an opinion of him as a manager. Regardless of his record at Blackburn, Hughes is now working with a different group of players, with different mentalities, expectations, abilities, and so on. To make the assumption that any top manager in the world can turn a club’s fortunes around instantly and improve their quality immediately is rather naive. It is without a doubt easier for a manager to enhance a team’s standing in their league if the team is in a stable condition and playing to a consistent level.

    When you take the case of Man City on its own, this has not been the case. The whole team needed – and will continue to need – restructuring. Consider players who played well only last season: they played well under a certain system with a team of players that they adapted to and learned to interact with over the course of the season. Now, these same players have to do the same this season. They are starting from scratch just as the new signings are. The outcome of such drastic changes at a football club, as in other businesses or team sports, is not normally fruitful in the beginning. More players will come and go over the course of the coming 18 months, but if there is one man in charge for this period, then the changes will be less drastic to the club as a whole. So, generally speaking, a core unit will establish itself as the spine of the team, allowing consistency and the opportunity to build in strength and quality.

    It is fair enough to mention the recent example of Redknapp changing the fortunes of his team, but what exactly has he changed? It could be argued that he has continued with the team of his predecessor and, therefore, can claim no responsibility for his team’s performances. Of course, there are many other factors involved and to narrow things down to such general rules would be silly. At the end of the day, there are large squads of players, of which 11 are selected to start a game, and of which each individual is a cog. The question is; do Man City fans want a manger to temporarily fix this device or do they want the broken device taken apart and for all the old rusty parts to be replaced and reassembled into a mechanism which will be guaranteed to work for many years to come? If your answer is to the former, then I suggest that there are many managers of the calibre of Redknapp out there who can help for a while; then I wish you luck on your quest to be eternally frustrated. Or would you say, successes for the future and certainty in your club’s existence are more important to you? Then, be patient since such careful restorations take time and a great deal of attention.

  • Comment number 67.

    I wish City well but I'd be amazed if Mark Hughes is there for more than a season. New owners are naturally going to want their own man. However I think Mark Hughes should leave before City turn into a circus. The job is already totally different to the one he started and he's in a no win situation.

    He'll only keep his job if they progress into the top 4 next season and I see that as next to impossible. They won't be able to attract the players they need without offering them Champions League football.

    City fans point to the signing of Robinho to suggest they can attract more players of his ability but I think it is more likely that Robinho will be off either as early as the summer or the season after when Chelsea come calling again. Obviously he went to City for the money and will leave as soon as a club offer him the money he wants and Champions League Football. City is a stepping sone in his career. He says he wants to be regarded as the best player in the world. If he is serious about this he ain't going to stay at City.

    City can get into the top four, but it will still take a lot of time. 4 seasons min I reckon. To do it you need £10 mil pound players all over the pitch not 1 or 2 £30 mil pound players.

  • Comment number 68.

    Sparky should be given a season, he is trying to make something out of Ericsons mess which was too slow middle field build up, retain possession at all costs even backwards, low physical impact dropping off game and hope the men up front get lucky when and if we ever got there, if not hit a long diagonal ball into the box out of frustration.

    Just like the England failures.

    Our 2008 form is pathetic and but for the 9 back to back home wins in 2007, 27 points including 5 lucky wins, we would have been almost down this year.

    City need a big January sale, the Ericson history and style is too deep with the existing squad to be anything except mid table and downward trending.

    C'um on City, make some big changes.

  • Comment number 69.


  • Comment number 70.

    Capitalism has just failed because of a lack of confidence. Wenger states that it is a false economy to go splashing the cash. Mark Hughes is in a lose lose situation. Mourihno is commited to Italy, and he's a professional with something to prove so forget about him no matter what money they offer. It all depends on who else is available wether Mark Hughes gets the dreaded vote of confidence!

  • Comment number 71.

    im beginning to wonder why i ever supported this club.........

    total mess


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