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Hughes harshly treated by Man City

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Phil McNulty | 19:59 UK time, Saturday, 19 December 2009

Mark Hughes - according to Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook - was the victim of a little-known law of life called "the bowling ball syndrome" last season.

Apparently, every time Hughes opened a cupboard a bowling ball fell on his head. Not literally of course, this was simply Cook's unique manner of explaining how the unexpected can throw even the grandest plans off course.

On Saturday, however, after his hasty sacking and even hastier replacement by Roberto Mancini, Hughes must have felt like all those bowling balls plus a 16-ton weight had descended on him with devastating force.

And his sense of disbelief at his harsh and ruthless removal will have been even more acute given that a little over a month ago, in the words of Cook, City were "right on target for where we want to be."

Not anymore obviously. Not even after beating Arsenal to set up a Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United, or overcoming Premier League leaders Chelsea at a vibrant Eastlands awash with optimism only a fortnight ago.

And targets meant everything to City's Abu Dhabi rulers because the statement outlining the reasons for Hughes' sacking specifically mentioned they were agreed before the start of this season.

Mark Hughes remonstrates during the win over SunderlandMark Hughes leaves City with the club in sixth place in the Premier League

Hughes must have agreed to hit some tough targets if guiding your team to the last four of a major competition and to within six points of the Champions League places, with a game in hand and only two defeats ths season, is judged as failure.

Did the Eastlands hierarchy actually expect City to be challenging for the title before Christmas? This sacking begs that question - and if they did they are inhabiting an unreal world. Their money may be able to buy most things, but instant Eastlands success is not one of them.

It means Mancini - and make no mistake there is a large element of risk in the appointment of a man who has been out of football for 18 months and has no Premier League experience - inherits a team in reasonable health.

Of course, it is folly to suggest this season has been a smooth passage for Hughes. Too many draws and flaws in a defence reconstructed at vast expense have undermined City's start to the season.

I was critical of Hughes after watching a stodgy and negative display at Liverpool, warning that City's naked ambition off the pitch must not be let down by lack of ambition on it.

But where is the common sense in sacking a manager before Christmas after giving him £200m to spend - and when he has delivered reasons for cautious optimism in both league and cup?

After investing such financial faith in Hughes, common sense decrees that you invest footballing faith in the manager and give him at least this season to shape his vision. Common sense - you must remember that?

When we sat in front of Hughes at Eastlands after a deserved win against Chelsea and listened to him speak with such force about the club's future direction, it was nigh-on impossible to imagine he would be shown the door inside 14 days.

It appears the sands shifted fatally beneath Hughes after the 3-0 defeat at Spurs on Wednesday, his fate decided even before the 4-3 win against Sunderland that at least allowed him to end his reign with dignity and victory.

I have watched City regularly this season, and they have resembled exactly what they are, namely a team and a club in the process of a seismic transition. If targets were set pre-season, surely this has to be taken into account.

Hughes has had mixed returns in the market. Shay Given, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy have been unqualified successes. Kolo Toure at £15m and Joleon Lescott at an utterly ludicrous £22m must go down as minuses in the ledger.

Emmanuel Adebayor has lurched dangerously back towards the peripheral figure of his latter Arsenal days in recent times, while Roque Santa Cruz - not cheap at £18m - has still to convince.

Robinho, at £32m, has been a disappointment and should have been shown the door before the manager. And it is actually hard to reconcile him as a Hughes signing because he almost came as a rather expensive gift from the Abu Dhabi United Group on the day they took charge.

Hughes has every right to question how this decision has been arrived at so suddenly, with City lying sixth in the Premier League and within two games of Wembley and a first big cup final for 28 years.

Once speculation about an approach to Guus Hiddink surfaced - and Saturday brought a rash of headlines rolling the credits on the Hughes era at Eastlands without any denials - it was clear Sunderland was going to be his farewell. The silence was deafening.

Hughes and City have rattled some cages this season with their bold spending and proclamations of their ambition. Everton manager David Moyes was particularly bitter about City's courting of Lescott, Sir Alex Ferguson labelled them the "noisy neighbours", and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger pointedly refused to shake hands after the Carling Cup loss.

And if the inconsistency had shown no signs of abating at season's end, then it may have been time then to appraise the work of Hughes. To dispense with him now is premature and questionable.

The advent of the January transfer window may also have precipitated the departure of the former Manchester United and Barcelona striker. City have lavish wealth to disperse at any time, but the sub-plot to his sacking suggests the Eastlands board did not trust Hughes to spend it for them.

There has also been talk of Hughes not being the Abu Dhabi regime's man on the basis he was appointed before their takeover. Nonsense. They made him their man by allowing him to spend so much money.

Hughes' status as a Manchester United legend did not sit easily with many City fans, who could not quite bring themselves to fully accept a man who was an idol of Old Trafford for so long, despite his fine work with Wales and Blackburn Rovers.

Roberto ManciniMancini has an impressive reputation but is unproven in the Premier League

But the appointment of Mancini is unlikely to be unanimously received by the Eastlands faithful either. You suspected they rather liked the idea of Hiddink or (and this was the dream) Jose Mourinho, to oversee the next stage of the building of an empire if Hughes bit the dust.

Instead they have Mancini, not exactly top of their wish list, who has appeared from nowhere and out of exile to move City forward. He won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and also impressed in charge of Fiorentina and Lazio, but he is unproven in the Premier League and will be under pressure immediately.

Unusually in these instances, he has inherited a side in a promising position. He will be expected to build on that, to meet the targets Hughes has apparently failed to achieve.

Time will tell if this is a wise move or a designer-manager decision by a hierarchy simply keen to have a bigger, more high-profile name, on the door at Eastlands.

And what if he is in a similar position this time next year after a spending spree? Presumably there will talk of missed targets and "we would like to put on record our respect for and thanks to..." The precedent has been set.

There has not been much sympathy for Manchester City this season. Indeed there has been jealousy in many quarters about their new-found wealth and willingness to use it, but there should be some for Mark Hughes. He has been harshly dealt with.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Well, just when you thought football couldnt get any madder, it does.

    I don't quite see how Roberto Mancini comes with such a glowing reputation. I accept that 3 Serie A titles looks excellent on paper, but it should be pointed out that these coincided with the match fixing scandal that basically handed 2 of them to Inter. In fact, I believe the first one was awarded to them after the 2 or 3 teams that actually finished above them, had their points totals wiped out.

    As a neutral observer of the goings on at Eastlands, I cant help thinking that Mark Hughes will be able to walk out of this with his head held high, and probably into a more stable job in the next few months. Good luck to him as and when he does, he is probably well out of it.

  • Comment number 2.

    The great thing about football is that money does not guarantee success (it does help though). How many times over the past 120 years have we seen managers sacked by over-ambitious and impatient owners only for things to get worse?

    I applaud Mark Hughes's dignity. He will find another good club, no problem.

  • Comment number 3.

    Agreed Phil, harshly treated indeed. Mancini will be a miracle worker if he excels past Hughes' position with the limitations in the City squad and the foundations still settling.

    Hughes for a crack at a "big four" job in the near future? Successor to SAF? Replacement for Benitez? Might not be a bad option iof he is given the time and indulgence both SAF and Rafa were at the start of their terms.

    What do you reckon Phil?

  • Comment number 4.

    This is evidence of Man City's eyes being bigger than their stomach. They set out with the aim of finishing in the top 6, but have obviously decided that they want to win the league mid-season and sacked Hughes on that basis without seeming to have any idea that it would be this difficult.

    The money is irrelevant. If you spend £200m, the players need time to gel. Also, they're 6th in the league, hardly a disaster.

    The appointment of Mancini also smacks of appointing a big name, rather than someone with genuine credentials. He's won 3 scudettos, Inter have had next to no competition for the past few years.

    In my opinion City are mutton dressed as lamb. No class, no idea about being a big club. The way they conduct themselves in the transfer market is disgraceful. The owners and in particular Garry Cook go about their business and press relations like a bull in a china shop. Empty seats at their home game today, and before they happened to be the club a Sheikh decided to buy, they were going precisely nowhere.

  • Comment number 5.

    They're going to struggle to recruit top managers after this. They've probably ended up with Mancini because the likes of Hiddink will have turned them down. Who would want a job where you know you're not going to get a fair crack at it and you'll be sacked if you hit a sticky patch?

  • Comment number 6.

    Man city fans do not deserve to be treated like this, mark hughes does'nt deserve to be treated like this, english football does'nt deserve to be treated like this!! IF THESE SO CALLED INVESTORS WANT A TROPHY THAT BADLY THEY SHOULD MAYBE SPONSOR ONE,ONE THAT OVER IN A MATER OF MINUTES RATHER THAN A HARD SLOG FOR EIGHT MONTHS, THEY MAKE A MOCKERY OF THE WHOLE GAME. Hope you have a good christmas "Sparky" all the best.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hughes being sacked is unreal. Alot of football fans dislike Man City with their new found wealth, not 100% because of jealously but because there is a an arrogance that follows it. I think football fans hate clubs who think it is their right to win things just because they throw money at it and this move will not help Man City become anybodies 2nd club.

    Personally I hope they crash and burn after this move (metaphorically speaking of course).

    Good Luck to Mr Hughes, he will not be out of a job for long, the job he did at Blackburn was remarkable and at Man City no bad considering the difficult situation he was in. I am sure there will be clubs lining up to take him on.


  • Comment number 8.

    As a City Fan since my Childhood, I am not amazed at our latest manager change although I do not agree with it's timing. I beleive Sparky should have been "given" more time to make his "Mark" on the team

    Robinho would have been off in January and we could have got rid of many of the problems that go with player coach relations at our club. Why else would Sparky be so cool about Robinho acting like a spoilt brat every week!!!! Sparky is old skool and played under (I hate to admit this as McTaggart is my nemesis!) but under the greatest disciplinarian and succesfull manager of all time. Sir McTaggart (Ferguson)

    I would have just about accepted today's decision had we had a TOP QUALITY manager lined up such as a "Jose" or a "Guus". As it is at City we shoot ourselves in the foot and go for a Roberto (I would have been happier with Martinez than Mancini!). Again the choice down the list of hopefuls !!

    Mancini (Although his new nickmane will be ManCini!) regardless of whether or not he gets instant success is no better than what we have currently and Sparky should have had one more January to get some players in and go from there to sort out our defence.

    Instead I feel embarrased to wear my City Shirt in public around my mates for they all laugh at the latest installment of MCFC !

    I am fed up of one step forward and two back !!!

    Disgrunteled City fan. I only hope that TOP QUALITY manager out there is waiting in the wings for when ManCini is cast off next December !


  • Comment number 9.

    Premiership experience?
    Arsene Wenger and quite recently Jose Mourinho did'nt have any 'premiership experience' before joining Arsenal and Chelsea respectively and becoming instant success.
    Who were they suppose to appoint, Garry Megson? He's got 'premiership experience' hasn't he?
    I'm very sad about Hughes' dismissal but the results have been very poor of late. Make no mistake, Mancini is a very good manager(winning the serie A 3 times in a row and 2 Italian cups definitely makes him a good manager) and I'm totally convinced he will improve City.

  • Comment number 10.

    Mark Hughes deserves to be fired. He was trusted by the board to go and spend 200 million and he decides to sign Lescott for 22 million. He should have been fired for that alone. Anyway, those that say this is unfair why not think about the 200 million Hughes has wasted on overrated arrogant players who actually joined city thinking they were going to break into the top four this season! Laughable!

  • Comment number 11.

    Mark Hughes is no angel but he has been treated appallingly by City's Arab owners. You always felt that this was an uneasy relationship as could readily be seen during Hughes' tepid and contrived post match interviews. I don't think he felt comfortable with the enormous sums of money he had at his disposal and maybe was pressurised into buying players he didn't really need or rate. I don't think I have seen him smile in the entire 18 months that he was in charge.
    He is a manager who has shown a lot of promise particularly in what he achieved at Blackburn.
    I can't see Mancini making any kind of difference and City's greedy and blinkered owners may find that this appointment comes back to haunt them.

  • Comment number 12.

    I have to say I cannot bring myself to join this wave of outrage against the sacking of Mark Hughes. I find Manchester City a completely souless club which has completely sold out its fans (who I do have alot of respect for)for arab riches. Mark Hughes is the sort of manager who works well on a small budget with a small club but when given an unlimited budget he made some incredibly bad decisions. The signing of Adebayor and Lescott, along with Santa Cruz for massive fees showed a complete lack of judgement. I was more shocked by the complete lack of respect Hughes showed to Richard Dunne (by sellinig him) than the subsequent sacking of Hughes. Martin ONeill's signing of Dunne was a master stroke, and Villa and there fans are reaping the rewards of his services. Toure has been terrible since he replaced Dunne and city have been leaking goals for fun all season. Hughes made all sorts of big claims in the summer, trying to buy Kaka and Terry was also an amusing side show. I understand the sacking of Hughes and do not believe he was the man to bring trophies to eastlands. That said, I do not think Mancini is either. If Mourinho, Hiddink or even David Moyes were given the job I would have more hope for the arab crusade for premiership titles. But nonetheless I do not really care that Hughes does not have a job, he is a limited manager with limited abilities and he has already hit the glass ceiling. So bye bye Hughes, not everyone is outraged that you have lost your job.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good manager but you can hardly say he spent his money well. He didn't really deploy the scouts or bag himself some bargains by offering larger pay packets instead he spent millions in transfers & wages.

    To think what could be acheived with 200 million it boggles the mind.

    Nonetheless it's a pity he's been released in this way especially after a win reminds me of the the Southgate scenario with a new manager already lined up no matter what the result.

    All I can say is Mancini is a winner but his Pedigree isn't even in the same ballpark as Ancelotti, Fergie, Capello etc. He won 3 Serie A titles using a team that was already established before hand and one which was gifted to him. If they had all that money for a decent manager I can think of a fair few who have more experience & a better record.

    How about Guus Hiddink? I doubt he would have renewed in Russia if a big money offer had come from Man City.

    Personally I can't wait to see if this gamble pays off.

  • Comment number 14.

    OK, but tell me please, whenever were club owners 'fair '? . I read this blog and thought with a few minor changes it could be about Chelsea's treatment of Avarim Grant, Spurs treatment of Jol etc etc ..

    Please do not look for rhymn or reason for why Footbsll club boards do what they do . Managers take the jobs knowing the risk and accept the nice payout they receive when they are sacked.In no other such high profile work does someone who has been sacked for failure in other like employment get welcomed back with open arms and a large budget to spend and a handsome paycheck every month as football managers.
    Do not cry for them ..its tough , but no one ever said it was fair..and the zero's on the severance cheque always helps take the sting out of being kicked out.

  • Comment number 15.

    As a United fan I feel for Sparky in all this. I heard Danny Mills make a good point on 5Live earlier when he said that in spite of only winning 3 times in 11 games only one of those was a defeat, and that only their second of the season.

    On the other hand with us, Arsenal and especially Liverpool dropping points all over the shop this season maybe the owners thought this might be too good a chance to miss or even risk not finishing in the CL places? In fact unless Mancini gets a near-flawless honeymoon period I can see the big winners in this being Villa and Spurs.

    On the bright side, thanks to City for the timing of all this; one of our most abject displays in recent years and they grab all the unwanted column inches from us. Cheers!

  • Comment number 16.

    Absolute madness at City. I saw Steve Bruce and Hughes play at Utd, they were both hard and uncompromising, similar as managers. But you get what you expect, players and now managers who give their all for whatever club they manage. To be thrown on the garbage heap (or to be screwed as Bruce was by Birmingham)and replaced by a Who's he? from Italy at this stage is at best poor, at worst stupid, judgement.
    Hint for Sir Alec, hire Hughes as no 2/3 and grind City into the mud

  • Comment number 17.

    I wasn't really worried about city challenging for the title with Hughes in charge. I thought he would go sooner rather than later and that they would to replace him with a manager of proven quality. So, i'm not surprised to see him go, but i don't think that Mancini will do much better. Probably better for the rest of us though....

  • Comment number 18.

    It's a strange one that I in some ways understand, but in others am mystified.

    Firstly, yes, results have not been good enough. Say what you will about requiring time for a team to gel (see below), Hughes has paid through the nose for some pretty average players, particularly in defence (Bridge, Lescott, Toure), and they've played... well, averagely.

    Second point against Hughes - he has no track record of success. If Fabio Capello had been brought in as City manager and requested more time, he would have got it. Hughes hasn't got the backup of a top-draw past record and his promises of future success have suffered for it.

    Now for his defence. Why sack him now? The results have been poor for a long time. Even with the team he had last season, you could argue Hughes underachieved. The only reason to have kept him this long would have been to give him time to meld a team from new talent, and 3 months of a season is not nearly long enough. The chairman should have looked to Chelsea and when they bought the league. Even the fickle Roman Abrahmovic gave Ranieri a season to prove himself after the cash injection before having him replaced with a more respected manager.

    That leads on to the other point. Mancini is a good, promising manager, but his track record isn't as stellar as it looks. Two of his titles with Inter came as a direct result of the match fixing scandal that saw AC docked points and Juventus relegated. The third wasn't hugely competitive either. In short, Italian football was a mess during his tenure and anything other than winning those titles would have been a real failure given Inter's superiority. If they wanted to replace Hughes with an imposing, respected figure, then why not tap up Mourinho, reportedly aching for a return to England football?

  • Comment number 19.

    Hughes did not deserve to get the sack, but perhaps bringing in a defensive minded Italian coach might not be such a bad thing for City whose attacking prowess is in stark contrast to their defensive frailty. Hughes did not want Dunne sold, and they're really missing him, while Villa are reaping the rewards with four clean sheets on the bounce in a season where not conceeding is so unfashionable that even Chelsea have tried hard to kick the habit.

  • Comment number 20.

    Lets face it, though, Hughes did "ok". He had some great results, but also a hell of a lot of draws when they should have won.

    I think that the owners had accepted it would take time to gel the team, and the expectation would be 5th in the league (close to 4th), plus good runs in all cup competitions.

    What it looks like, though, is that they won't get 5th. Why would you settle for an "ok" manager when you are spending £200m on players?

    Hughes had to do well... not amazing, and I think he's just been ok or quite well at best. Why stick with him? With Liverpool having an absolute shocker of a season, that 4th place is easier to get & with that in consideration, 4th should be their new target and it doesn't look like they will get that.

    As for the Manchini choice... only time will tell, but he will probably be a filler manager until they pay for a top one.

  • Comment number 21.

    This reaffirms my disappointment with how football is now run. Commitments made towards the manager are left unfulfilled, the sheer cheek to have his replacement in the stands speaks volumes.

    As a Newcastle fan I feel some jealously towards Man City having big pockets. But there is something to how this replacement has been executed that reminds me of recent decisions made by the owners of Newcastle.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yet again the media have got their man, shouldn't journalists be detectives? As a city season ticket holder of 28 years I feel that I might have some 'knowledge' about my club other than some of the jokers on this site! We are indeed 'sprinting before we can run' but hey you have xxx million and anything is possible. Hughes's tactics were abysmal and he didn't have a plan B. The defensive problem was consistent and not just a'gelling' process. Wenger should have a mask to go with his white stick! Toure has been Captain Deplorable not dependable!! I am sorry that hughes will be leaving but top teams do not consistently lose home leads, simple as that! Mancini, who know's? As a city fan anything is possible?

  • Comment number 23.

    That is how the cookie crumbled for Hghes.. 200 million is a lot of money. I am surprised that the owners of Cite put Hughes in charge of all that. They should have brought Sven back..

  • Comment number 24.

    As soon as we saw the takover everybody should have expected this. Whilst Mark Hughes has hardly done terribly does anybody here think he is a better manager than Ancelotti, Wenger, Ferguson or Benitez? Better than O'Neill or Redknapp? Not for me.
    They spent 200m on quality players that any manager could use. Every single player Hughes bought was a household name before they came to City; it's how I would do it if I was playing football manager on my pc.
    I think the owners look at Liverpool's poor start to the season and see that City have failed to capitalize and Spurs and Villa both look in better condition with more wily managment.

  • Comment number 25.

    Why was my post not displayed please?

  • Comment number 26.

    1. The assertions that Mancini
    1.1. "has no Premier League experience", and
    1.2. "is unproven in the Premier League"
    hold no water. The Special One also had no experience of the Premier League upon his appointment at Chelsea.

    2. About the "handshake incident",
    2.1. Wenger complained "to the fourth official that Hughes had left his technical area", and
    2.2. "At one point I was over on his side of the technical area and he seemed to be a bit aggrieved by that," added Hughes.

    Hughes was always out of his depth, living on borrowed time. Ask Avram Grant about being "harshly dealt with".

  • Comment number 27.

    It can all be summed up in one sentence: YOU NEED THE FOREIGNERS.

    Be it owners, players of managers.

    Despite the hype and preferential treatment they enjoy by the national media, this article being the perfect example, in general the Brits have proven time after time not to have the ability, intelligence, mental strength or know-how required for success.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a City fan I never warmed to Hughes, but not because he is an ex-red. Like most blues I just want to see us succeed and I don't care who we bring in to achieve that as long as they are dedicated to the club. However, 18 months of not being able to decide whether Hughes was the man for the job or not can't be a good sign!
    The main thing for me was the inconsistency, beating teams like Chelsea putting us on a real high, and then drawing to teams like Hull, who no disrespect, but we should ease past. It was times of regression like that which probably caused the board to loose patience.
    As much as I want to see us win something (the highlight of 19 years of being a City fan being a couple of Division 1 titles) I want us to do it with pride. The board have made us disliked and a laughing stock with some of their antics. Dismissal of Hughes appears poorly timed and erratic. Lots of calls for Cook out.
    Either way it all adds to the excitement of what has been the most openly contested Premiership I've certainly ever seen and at least that should silence those who accused us of 'killing the game' pre season.

  • Comment number 29.

    Mark Edwards (clearly not a city fan) you have some valid points, but do me a favour David Moyes as manager, ha ha, seriously Moe from The Simpsons ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaa

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh and Phil you were at the game, you forgot to say anything about your beloved Owen the lifter of Utd's and England's hopes, and his outstanding contribution of one free shot that went a good 20 yards wide.

    And of course about how United are going to really fancy their chances against Milan after being battered by the mighty Fulham and the footballing legend that is Bobby Zamora.

  • Comment number 31.

    A sad day for City. The situation of sacking premier league manager so frequently is like what happened in Italian league in 90's. Total madness.

  • Comment number 32.

    It has to be said that old sparky was harshly treated by city. i also think he was harshly treated by the more expensive players he acquired. Adebayor started with a bang, but has faded badly, Robinho clearly doesnt want to be there, and is looking ever more likely to become the new shevchenko. lescott was awesome for everton, he was calm and assured on the ball and decisive off it, he now looks as poor as you could imagine. Wayne bridge has also been another flop. Gareth Barry seems average at best, and not even missed by villa. The most unusual thing is that ALL of the mentioned players, except robinho have vast premiership experience. I can only think of three players who can hold their heads high, and they are given, de jong and bellamy.

  • Comment number 33.

    Am I the only one to actually be pleased with this news AND not be a Utd fan? For the record im a Gooner and I think Hughes has acted like a spolit brat and shown a complete lack of decency or humility in winning on several occasions (not just against Arsenal). Not sure how many people agree with me on this? Especially you Phil???

    He likes to think he is old school but could someone please tell him encroaching into the oppposition manager's technical area and waving his arms around in a deranged manner isn't big and certainly isn't clever!

    Some of the purchases he has made with the Arab millions smack of a man who couldn't believe his luck that he had so much to spend and tried to assemble some sort of dream team of mercenaries (tempted from their clubs by quadruple-your-money offers). Lescott and Toure still look like complete strangers after 6 months of playing together for pete's sake!

    Not sure about the appointment of Mancini, he has pedigree but I agree with an earlier poster (a city fan) who suggested that we might see this situation again next Christmas...let's wait and see

  • Comment number 34.

    If City wants instant success they should get Pep Guardiola - first season in charge and won the treble for Barcelona... Update: it's now quadruple, latest addition being the World Club Cup.

  • Comment number 35.

    Not that I expect Mancini to better than Hughes but:

    "Mancini unproven in the Premier League" is journalism at its finest.

    Look at Hiddink, Grant, Wenger, Benitez et al. They jumped straight into EPL with no EPL track record whatsoever.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hughes wasn't good enough. Too many draws, the recent (huge and embarrassing) loss to Spurs. mediocre league position while Spurs and Villa are competing and a lot of wasted money (Lescott, Bridge, Santa Cruz). Hughes was out of his depth. It's a smart move by the owners. Get rid of him now while they are still in a competitive position+ Mancini will be able to spend in January. It's harsh but perfectly understandable. The results weren't good enough- simple as that- and the recent loss to Spurs showed their perpetual inconsistency hadn't gone away. Hughes would have got fourth.

  • Comment number 37.

    >> Ask Avram Grant about being "harshly dealt with".

    I don't know about that. The plan all along was that he would serve as a caretaker manager until the end of the season, which he did. I don't think he was hard done by.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm sure the City Board would have wanted Mourinho, and I'm sure he would have wanted the job - but not yet. He's got a helluva lot more chance to win "stuff" with Inter in the next six months than he would have had taking on City now. Given a few hundred million and a couple of months before the season starts, yeah, he'll be there - and I'll hazard a guess that that's already been discussed, and unless Mancini does happen to perform a few miracles, he'll be out by the end of May '10 - what d'ya think?

  • Comment number 39.

    Can I ask, please Phil, if you still consider Manchester City to be the favourites to supplant one of the established top four this season?

    I predicted on a Villa fan forum prior to the seasons start that Mark Hughes would be sacked by Christmas and his team in midtable. Most posters thought it much more likely that O'Neill would be the one getting the sack and it be Villa in midtable at best.

    Mark Hughes has done himself no favours with his arrogant demeanour and the way he pursued Joleon Lescott and John Terry, announcing his desire to sign them in the newspapers. He can hardly complain that his former employers have also shown little class.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good luck to Mark Hughes, I don't want to sound like a brokwn record, but football has seemingly gotten madder and madder in recent years. Managers more and more frequently being sacked, very harshly by panicy club owners. As a Sheffield Wednesday fan I have seen this many times in the past few years. Manchester City will never be a 'big four' team, they simply don't have the class for it. They can't even sell out their stadium on a saturday!

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't think Hughes dismissal was undeserved, whilst he may have only lost 2 games, his record has not been great, nor was his achievements last season. what is undeserving, is getting a new manager behind someones back. i'm sure if Mancini was under pressure, he would not appreciate another manager ready for him to be booted so they could take over. i think some managers should have some respect for each other. on the Mnacini front, he is not a great manager, and to many extent overrated. I am an Inter fan and, despite the success, he never got the best out of the team and Seri A was very slanted in Inter's favour at that time.

    I think Man Cities problems will get worse now though, as the players I believe who have been performing under Hughes may not do so under Mancini, especially Bellamy. But time will tell whether this move will work out or not.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    With money success is more or less guaranteed however second rate the boss is (how many truly first class bosses are there out there? not many I'd say). I don't believe that even Manchester City can be an exception to this rule. We're talking about the richest club in the world. The owners will just keep hiring and firing until they strike gold. And so what?

  • Comment number 44.

    To the post above ^ are you suprised todays game didn't sell out? I wouldn't have gone myself had I not got a season ticket! Bar the Chelsea game, the past 10 or so matches can be collectively summed up as tedious and disappointing (and I'm used to that after a goaless half season under Pearce) The defence was showing no sign of improvement and the team had one two many disinterested pre-madonnas.

    I disagree with your statment regarding the top 4 aswell, have you not been paying attention to the PL this season? Despite all the draws we're still only a few points behind the others at the top, its anyones game.

    The thing you all seem to be forgetting with City is you can never predict what will happen, give us an easy way to do something and we can gurantee to make it harder for ourselves. So it will be interesting to see what happens throughout the rest of the season, although experience tells me it will probably end in heartache!

  • Comment number 45.

    Pathetic and incompetent management such as Hughes exhibited should never be awarded with any faint praise. Hughes is possibly the luckiest man ever to be awarded,without reason, a premiership job and has failed on any conceivable level aimed at him.A cocker spaniel could have managed wales and blackburn as well as Hughes. He should fiond his own level somewhere in the fourth division or Scottish premier league. hughes is and will remain the worst manager in the world.... after pardew, curbishley, davies, mccarthy,if anyone ever seeks to reemploy him may they have such low standards that only a dead person could qualify as an alternate.
    we should all delight that a clueless incompetent has gone and a qualified winner has been appointed. Please now go home Hughes - you are not welcome into any thing related to good flowing football ever again.,

  • Comment number 46.

    How Benitez remains in a job is beyond me. Hughes was constructing an exciting team with pace, flair and goals aplenty. Admittedly his defensive purchases let him down form wise and the sale of Richard Dunne has to be viewed as perhaps the clanger of the season in light of Toure and Lescotts chuckle brothers act.

    Still, the Arab owners can scarcely complain regards excitement, unpredictability and sheer volume of goals as 37 goals in their last 8 fixtures will atest.

    Also the lack of honour is staggering. Hughes was targeted a top 6 finish at the seasons start. You have to wonder if Liverpool weren't so abysmal this year whether Sparky might still be in a job.

    It is a true pity to see a Brit manager discarded without being given a real fair crack. City are my second team, but I genuinely can't see Mancini prospering where Hughes supposedly failed unless theres bucketloads more petropounds being thrown at it.

  • Comment number 47.

    kudos on a good one, cfw...felt i owe you that after alwyas pointing out the mistakes...

  • Comment number 48.

    I can see the owners loosing interest in the club, if they dont get instant success, and walking out. If they had any sense they would at least give Hughes a chance. Fine if the season ends poorly with a mid table finish then maybe they could look elsewhere.

    To be 11 points from the top and within easy reach of the top four at this point in the season is hardly disaterous. Its not like they are playing that badly.

    Crazy decision.

  • Comment number 49.

    I wish to point out that Mr Mancini does indeed have premier league experience- 5 games for Leicester City in 2001. Expect the likes of Dean Sturridge, Gerry Taggart and Junior Lewis to arrive to help out an old friend and guide the sky blues to the promised land :P

  • Comment number 50.

    Moyes for Scotland Hughes for Everton?
    Disgusting how can they sack a man who has done very little wrong,football is a funny game and God forbid I hope this is not the Demise of yet another great club.

  • Comment number 51.

    Mark Hughes for the vacant Scotland Job? C'mon. Who's with me on that one?

  • Comment number 52.

    just so you know, gratedbean the term is primadonna. pre madonna is Debbie Harry

  • Comment number 53.

    He-he! I said some time ago that he'd be gone Christmas, and I've never been more happy to be proven right.

    He clearly had no plan other than to spend in the hope that something would 'click' and save his a**e. The only thing that could make this situation even better now would be if Lescott is replaced at huge expense whilst he's injured and has to sit the rest of his time out at Eastlands as a benchwarmer.

    And as for these owners walking out, that's unlikely just now, but that would be great as well. Nobody else could afford this team of largely very talented individuals, but collective shambles, so they'd have to virtually give it away (they could afford to do that), but any new owners would have to get rid of all these misfits quickly to reduce the massive wage bill. City may think they have it good right now (and in many ways they have), but it is a fragile position. And for all I am glad to see the back of Hughes (if he'd have been manager of a team that had been plundered in the vulgar way he did with Everton over Lescott, then he'd have been protesting just as much as Everton did, but, hey, he was the one with the money, so that was okay, yeah?), if the owners just expect nothing short of winning everything in sight, then they will be forever disappointed and doing this kind of thing (allowing managers to spend randomly and then sacking them).

  • Comment number 54.

    RoqAdeTevinho, I think someone has to be aware of your existences before you can count them as a nemesis.

    If you just look at Mancini's record on paper (which, to be fair it sounds like Phil has done, as RM isn't particularly the focus of the article.) it's pretty good. Digging a little deeper in most cases does remove some of the sparkle.

    In his first club as manager he won the Copa Itallia, pretty good. However, in Italy it is less dominated by the major cups than the FA cup,so less of a surprise.There have been six winners in the past decade. Secondly in this season Fiorentina was in turmoil, and the season ended in relegation.

    Until Calliopoli hit the Italian scene, Mancini was a failure. With the money that Inter poured into the club, and the stars he had avaliable he only managed a Coppa Italia. His team was also pretty pour in Europe.

    Once the scandal broke, Inter were handed the first title by the administration. Juventus and A.C. Milan both had points taken away from them. It was right to punish the clubs, but it has taken away alot of the legitimacy of their first title win. After the scandal, Inter hoovered up a lot of the talent escaping from the other clubs, and spent extensively. This allowed them to romp to a second title, with only a near bankrupt Roma as challengers, with a crippled Totti. Their third title would have been seen as a success, if it wasn't for their awful performance in Europe.

    With Mancini's up and down record in football he is a risk for City, as others have mentioned on the thread. However, if I was a city fan what would worry me more is how little experience he will have in buying players. In Italy this is undertaken by the Director of Football, as the manager is more of a coach. It seems like the footballing staff has been mixed around a lot of the last few years.

    Is there anyone backstage who can help Mancini spend the millions wisely?

  • Comment number 55.

    Come back across Manchester Mark to where you are still loved and adored. Wash the filth and stench of the dark side away and return to the warm and comforting bosem of Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 56.

    I am sorry Phil but you cant have it both ways. Every time City draw at home, people like you write a blog quoting the millions spent and questioning how much more time the manager has got (now you are doing it to Benitez). And now that he is sacked, you jump to the other side and sympathise with him.

    I watched their game against Sunderland and they played like 11 strangers, especially in defence. That is not good enough.

    Having a pop at Mancini this early is also cheap. He is a fine coach and City could have done worser.

  • Comment number 57.

    Did Hughes actually sign all those players? Did he really want them? If so he is guilty of a gross waste of money and should be sacked.
    If not and he has no control over who comes and goes he should expect that those who do pull the strings to make the illogical decision to get rid of him before he has had a chance to do anything with this team.

  • Comment number 58.

    What's everybody complaining about? Haven't you realised by now that an Italian manager will trump an English one everytime?

  • Comment number 59.

    Liverpool .... You still want arab money ???

  • Comment number 60.

    A certain gentleman from the BBC wrote this on 21 Nov 2009:
    "Manchester City's ambition off the pitch knows no limits - so it would be ironic indeed if a lack of ambition on it was to pull the rug from under Mark Hughes and his brave new world."

    Care to speak to him Phil?

  • Comment number 61.

    It really is sad to see what a much loved game (after all it’s a sport) has come once it comes into contact with deranged people who will do anything to make another buck. These are the very people who have no love for the sport and due to such men the game has become a business.

    I am no prophet, but I feel the beginning of the end of the game has come if it continues to be run thanks to these greedy people. Remember Rome wasn’t build overnight nor died overnight.

    Now coming back to Man C, I think the Arabs and in for a rude and shocking surprise. Even if all parties concerned agreed on the specific goals and timelines, the owner who are suppose to be much more smarter should realize your investment doesn’t return overnight, if that’s the case all of us should hit the stock market! These are basics.

    FIFA has to take firm steps to stop money hungry people to enter football. You need rich investors BUT the local body (in this case FA) should be given more teeth to bite as:

    1. The investors should be interviewed by the local body as to the new investors game plan.
    2. The local body should have the right to reject a takeover based on these findings.
    3. Investors must put in writing the amount of money available to a manager for the next 4 transfer windows.

    There is an evident trail ……………

    Newcastle U - relegated the same season after management interfered with Managers decisions
    West Ham U - relegation is a very high possibility after management interfered with managers decisions last season
    Chelsea – Nothing has changed BUT imagine what Chelsea could have achieved had JM stayed
    Man C – to be seen

  • Comment number 62.

    Someone bought all these players, none of us know if it was Mark H or not but is this the squad that Mancini wants ?. He might want to go out and spend another 200m but there again none of us know if he took the job over on the basis that there would be little extra money available.
    I Suspect that he will repair the most glaring problem by tightening up the defence. Past history should teach us though that Bellamy, who has been arguably city's best purchase, doesn't cotton to disciplenarians very well and won't be a happy bunny.

  • Comment number 63.

    If you look realistically at City's squad right now, we might finish in the top 4, but we'll never win the Premiership or in Europe; once we're in the Champion's League, we'll be able to attract the kind of players who will put us over the top. But would Hughes be able to handle them? His track record with Elano and Robinho says that he couldn't. The Board might have let him continue through the season, except for the "crisis" that was about to hit. With Toure heading off to Africa, Lescott was injured, and Hughes was going to ask for even more money in January to get defensive reinforcements. The owners weren't going to let that happen, so he had to go now.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes, Phil, City's paymasters did expect City to be challenging for the title. That's why they pumped in so much money. Ironically, the 4-3 win against Sunderland explained why Hughes had to go.
    I said a couple of weeks ago that Hughes did not have the ability to steer City into the top 4. I don't know if Mancini will be the answer, but he is the type of manager with a title winning record who could get City there.
    Hughes is a good manager, but despite the media hype is very thin on actual achievement. He spent too long messing about with Wales and does not have titles or cups to support his case to be retained.
    Far from helping Hughes, the open nature of this year's campaign has reinforced the need to cash in on the frailties of the established top four.
    City could and should have been at Chelsea's heels pushing for the title and Hughes has paid the price. The fact that an equally faltering Liverpool have not sacked Benitez shows they have given up any ambition of retaining their top four status. City can't afford to do that.

  • Comment number 65.

    Phil, weren't you one of the many 'journalists' who continually questioned the amount of time Hughes had left at City? So to write this article about the unfairness of the dismissal seems folly..
    Also- whilst I agree that on paper Mancini has a good record, his situation in Italy should be looked at closely. Even to this day Juventus fans claim two of those Scudettos as their's. The fact that his only 'true' Scudetto triumph came on the last day against a bankrupt Roma team should tell you exactly how far down Serie A has fallen.
    Sorry, it looks to me like simply appointing someone that appears good from first glance and commands a hefty salary (he earned 11 million a season at Inter). Will it work? I doubt it. Mancini has not had the pressure he has now, and even then he could not handle it. But best of luck to him.

  • Comment number 66.

    Tell me Mr Chief sports writer about your professional football career and that of a manager. You constantly make out you know more than than the very people who played and manage the game. Your defence of Hughes is laughable when compared to your one man witch hunt of Joe Royle when he was at Everton. Hughes has had eighteen months and 150 million to turn City into top four contenders and he hasn't achieved that. Royle kept Everton up in 95 against the odds, won the FA cup, 6th in his one full season and was 6th in the league before an injury crisis on a par with what Moyes is suffering now yet you literally was baying for his blood, what has Hughes achieved?

  • Comment number 67.

    This is a laughable and arrogant decision. A real statement of intent. It speaks of an intent to have no class. When you have gained your wealth because it sits in the ground beneath you this kind of behaviour should come as no surprise. Garry Cook is a disgrace to our great game. Whilst Benitez gets away with utter incompetence at Anfield Hughes suffers for the arrogance and pride of people who do not understand the game.

    I will say one thing against Hughes: his whinging about referees has dealt a blow to his reputation. This is a shame as he is such a good manager and he should not have to resort to this kind of thing. But, then again, I guess it sets him up as a 'top four' manager.

  • Comment number 68.

    Lescott was the one that really told me Hughes didn't have it .. assuming he did have total control !! Hiddink was the man .. but I think Abramovich is keeping him for Chelsea at some point in the future when the Russia involvement comes to a natural end. Mourinho ... well .. possibly .. but Jose wants Man U .. but I hope they go for Capello !
    Mancini .... a huge gamble to me, and I have no faith in the owners capability for knowing what they need .. ... ... and Liverpool ... they need to get rid of Rafa but will be too greedy to pay him out of his contract ........ It's Chelsea with a clear run for the title this year unless the Glaziers open their purses! ........ Arsenal will fade again because they will not spend when they need to .. Wenger could finally get fed up and head for some sunshine ... Or !! ????

  • Comment number 69.

    Phil- considering that the moderators seem to be a bunch of blind tortoises that live in an alternate dimension, could the BBC at least enable the auto refresh functionality on your blog? It becomes quite tedious to manually refresh so often without any update..

  • Comment number 70.

    The basic problem was that Hughes was not able to build a recognizable and effective system of play after 18 months, which is not a short time. His tactics and man management were questionable. If you ask me they were a failure in general. If you watched our games you would know that Given was by far our best player this season and that we have more points than we deserve at the moment.

    It was the right move, but the wrong way of doing it. The resolution should have been more transparent but if we want to go places this was necessary I am afraid. In Mancini we have proven tactician and man manager and he has the required potential to fix the flaws of Hughes reign. Definitely better CV than Hughes and from that point of view better chances to make it in the top 4. He does not have a premier league experience, but neither did Mourinho when he took over in Chelsea. Or Ramos if you want to look it from a glass half-empty perspective.

    Manicini won 3 titles with Inter (the most successful manager in the history of Inter) and 4 Italian cups with 3 different teams and has been a success in Lazio and Fiorentina. Good enough for me to get the best job in the world at the moment. Hopefully he will be able to keep it longer than Hughes and improve us, something Highes was not very successful at.

  • Comment number 71.

    Let's face it - Mark Hughes' time as Man City manager has been numbered from the moment the new owners took over, unfortunately he is not enough of a big name to go with the big bank balance of the club. I know Wenger was not a big-name when he took over Arsenal but things are different now, success has to be instant.
    Nothing less than 100% win record would have Hughes in a job but the ridiculous signings of Lescott (£22m?, David Moyes must have been wetting himself) & Toure just gave the owners an excuse to drop him.
    I suspect Mancini was not their first choice, hopefully he does not turn out to be a bad one.

  • Comment number 72.

    At the end of the day what do the Arabs know and understand about English football?

  • Comment number 73.

    City have plenty of form even before it became Middle Eastlands. I haven't been to a match since the disgraceful sacking of Stuart Pearce who did a lot with not very much. It was sickening to see how much money they then found for, successively if not successfully, S G Eriksson and Mark Hughes. Always the Theatre of Comedy but now with a darker tinge.

  • Comment number 74.

    Taken from Wiki

    "In September, United suffered a humiliating 5–1 away defeat against fierce rivals Manchester City. Following this and an early season run of six defeats and two draws in eight games, a banner declaring "Three years of excuses and it's still crap. Ta ra Fergie." was displayed at Old Trafford, and many journalists and supporters called for Ferguson to be sacked. Ferguson later described December 1989 as "the darkest period [he had] ever suffered in the game."

    Maybe Mark Hughes was never going to be good. Maybe he is a genius. Either way, we will not know. What an absolutely ludicrous way to look at football. Becoming a good manager is like learning to be a good parent. It is hard, takes time, and most of all, consistency. They had the money. They have bought the initial players, and set about their task. It is so obvious these Abu Dhabi guys just want the silverware, but they have no clue how to go about doing it. Mancini may be the greatest ever. He may. But look at what the greatest ever premier league manager had to endure to do that. And that is the whole point. What they want takes time, and like spoilt kids, they don't understand the mature steady decisions, but prefer the knee jerk reactions to things they know nothing about. Noisy neighbours is just about right. We are back to square one. They don't know the meaning of the word DELEGATION and think they can micro manage this dream. But they can dream on. Nobody has ever taken over a club and not had to endure 10 dismal results to get to the top.At the very least. I feel sorry for Mark, and sorry for the Abu Dhabi guys, as they just look incredibly pathetic in this. But I feel sorry for Man City. Oh so near, and yet oh so far. They have the money, now just sit back and be patient. But no. The Man City carnival has turned into a freak show. At least Brian Kidd is there. He was an AWESOME city player. Invincible with Stuart. Maybe our best ever. He looks like Maradona without the cocaine. It's Oasis next hit, "You say MANCITY, and I say MANCINI, let's call the whole thing off".

    A very frustrated lifelong City man.

  • Comment number 75.

    Mixed feelings about this. I think Mark Hughes is a decent manager and a decent person. He knew he was on his way out as manager but showed class and dignity in making his exit.

    It was almost a mission impossible to get the results and position the Arabs, who know nothing about football, demanded in such a short space of time. He accepted this though I guess knowingly. He had to assemble a top 4 team in a few months in the summer and obviously could not buy a lot of the players on his wish list cos they were not available or didn't want to sign for City. He had to make compromises. Looking at the squad he has left it isn't balanced.He bought too many forwards and not enough defenders.Kolo Toure is prone to errors and Lescott too and they don't really have a midfield enforcer. They have Robinho who is a bit of a party act and who needs to go. In the January transfer window they need to buy a couple of central defenders

    Mancini may be a success but has he really got a proven track record ? A gamble. Why they didn't go for Jose or Gus I don't know.

    I for one don't like foreigners, who know nothing about football along with most Chief Executives they appoint, owning English football clubs. The only notable exception is the Villa owner and to a certain extent Abramovich who at least is passionate about football.

  • Comment number 76.

    If the Abu Dhabi United group want an instant return on their cash, why not dump citeh, and buy united?
    We've got a lovely full trophy cabinet :)

  • Comment number 77.

    #70- Mancini is not the most successfull Inter manager in history. Have you forgotten the days of La Grande Inter under the great Herrera and Trappatoni? He is the most successfull Inter manager in 30 years yes. But there were mitigating circumstances, considering they were awarded two titles off the pitch. A good coach yes, but certainly not a first choice. Why else was he unemployed and unapproached for 18 months despite still earning his Inter salary? He is unloved as a coach in his own country, and that says alot.
    But don't see this as me slagging him off- not at all. I just think that if City wanted to replace Hughes with a proven manager, they could have done a hell of a lot better than Mancini.

  • Comment number 78.

    As an older Mancunian, I remember with great joy the wonderful days when Albert Alexander was chairman and Joe Mercer was manager. What great times in the 1960s when City and United would go toe to toe on equal terms.

    That marvellous culture, which was relished by all Mancunians red and blue, is probably gone forever.

    How can outsiders have true affection for these historic and traditional British institutions.

    MCFC is now just a rich man's toy and occasionally he will throw his toys out of his pram.

  • Comment number 79.

    TO STENDEC...yes I did criticise Hughes and Manchester City for their performance at Liverpool because it was poor and negative. I also praised them in beating Arsenal twice and especially after beating Chelsea. At no point did I suggest Hughes should be in danger of losing his job and this decision, in my opinion, is ridiculously premature.

    This is a question asked seriously, not as any judgement on Roberto Mancini's potential in case I am accused of "having a go" at him. Are City's fans convinced his pairing with Brian Kidd will do any better than Hughes?

    And to The_Dark_Blue_King...all a bit technical for me but I will ask about it.

  • Comment number 80.

    Frankly, I am astonished at the shoddy way Mark Hughes has been treated by the club hierarchy. He has been publicly humiliated - he does not deserve that.
    I am quite certain that, had he been given time, he would have shorn the dressing room of undesirables and built an impressive team. He remains an impressive manager.
    Some have questioned his signings, but managers will always be disappointed by some of their buys...i'm thinking Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson over at Utd, and Benitez is habitually disappointed.
    Richard Dunne is having a whale of a time at Villa, but do we remember how leaky the defence was with him and Richards paired together? Dunne is simply enjoying a new lease of life..and good luck to him.
    Hughes did try to get Terry...and if he succeeded he might still have his job.
    So now we have Mancini. I am unmoved by this. Good luck to him, after all I want City to challenge, I just think that he won't be in the job long either.
    Congratulations Mansoor, you've continued the City tradition of us being a laughing stock!

  • Comment number 81.

    Well, what do you expect from the owners. They live in a world of almost unlimited money, they believe everything can be bought. That approach may work when buying racehorses or throwing money at administraors to put on big events in Dubai, but it does not work in a football club. Team games are exactly what they are called..... TEAM games. As an Evertonian, we have seen how a huge team spirit has overcome other weaknesses.... this is whey Vila are now pushing hard.... people not money..... having lived and worked in Kuwait, then this does not surprise me... instant success... no forward planning!

  • Comment number 82.

    I am amazed, city fans (I am one), managers, pundits all have very short memories.

    1) City for 30 years have sacked managers at the strangest times Book, Bond, Ried too name a few and it did not need a foriegn owner to buy our club to start this process.

    2) Hughes was the manager who handled the departure off our captain, player of the year, long servant to the club with such professionalism - what goes around comes around! Look at the boy now player of the season at Villa and where are they with a lot less talented squad - top 4 due to solid defence!

    3) City fans where astounished when we removed Sven for a small club manager Hughes can't remember anyone jumping for joy, now we are going for a manager who has won every honour and he is bringing in a good micx of backroom staff and we still complain.

    Mark Hughes is a good manager and has proved that with Wales and Blackburn however he was never the right man for city with our without money he never understood our way and only worked with people he has known for a long time.

    I am pleased to see him go.

  • Comment number 83.

    Phil, I have to disagree with you on this one. I don’t understand how you can call this “harsh treatment”

    I think that people such as yourself, Alan Hansen, and the rest of the football editing/commentating community, are driven by an emotional agenda to see a young British manager succeed, especially if the person in discussion is as humbled, calm and collective as Hughes.

    The owner and chief executive of City are driven purely by a business mind and their success in many other project across the globe is sufficient evidence to make me believe that my club is in safe hands, and that the people in charge will do only right by the club.

    I don’t want to go through the enormous list of why Hughes deserved the sack, but I will refer to your earlier blog following the Liverpool game. Moreover you can have a look at all three Sunderland goals yesterday, in fact have a look at each goal we have conceded this season and you will see further evidence to why Hughes deserved to go. He simply does not possess the tactic-abilities of a top four manager.

    The owners are showing guts by choosing a proven manager with no premier league experience, in any business environment you have to take risk to be ahead, if you only apply why is tried and proven you can never be ahead. Hughes had an open cheque, and rather than going for world class players, he lacked the guts, and made safe purchases to acquire the rejects of Chelsea.

    So here you have it, unlimited funds, a season and half, full support, public backing, lacks guts and tactics abilities. Still think it is harsh?? I don’t think so

  • Comment number 84.

    It is just as important who your Chairman is as your manager. As a Villa fan I think we are lucky to have Lerner.

    Hughes should have been given two seasons at least and the board ( it doesn't matter how money they've spent) talk of broken promises and agreements, it's laughable. It takes at least a season, two realistically to recruit all of the players that you need. If anything they've just made the City job less desirable.

    Hughes will get a job where he can build the team in the more traditional way I'm sure, patiently over time.

    If they'd have replaced Hughes with Mourinho then I can understand it but Mancini? Why even bother? They might as well have given Hughes to the end of the season then if they're not happy get Mourinho, Hughes might have got some Silverware by then anyhow.

    More money than sense.

  • Comment number 85.

    #78 touches on something interesting although I'd see it differently. It's not to do with 'outsiders' (unfortunately I think he means 'foreigners') but something more intangible that I think great teams have - some kind of soul. Great pieces of engineering have it. Great bands have it. And great clubs have it. At the moment Man City isn't a great club and doesn't have it.

    Just because they've moved stadium isn't the reason - Arsenal have soul, and they are in a brand-new stadium. Just because they've bought in all the talent isn't the reason - Blackburn had soul when they had Shearer and Sutton. And just because they haven't had success isn't the reason - Newcastle, for all of their faults, have soul.

    I can't put my finger on it but Man City is a club missing something. Speaking as a neutral, it's a club I don't care if I miss on MOTD. Their result is one I'm not bothered about. I'd say Fulham have more soul.

    Ho hum. Just a personal opinion. But if somebody said to you 'let's go and watch Everton or Man City - your choice', you know that your heart would say Everton, because...they got soul.

  • Comment number 86.

    I am not surprised that Hughes has been shown the door. If you or I worked for any employer, trusted with the resources he has been given, and produced the results he has, we would not last to see the end of year review, sorry! Unless that company is a bank, then we could live to get a stinking end of year review and a big bonus to go with it..

  • Comment number 87.

    I have no sympathy for him. When he was appointed he looked like the cat that got the cream and had a cocky attitude about him; he wandered about like a millionaire's kid in a toy shop, lobbing money at players to get them to come to Eastlands. He spent a bundle of money and didn't deliver what his sugar daddy wanted, hence he got the boot. He must have known how high the stakes were and how unreasonable the expectation would be; if he didn't then he's quite simply an idiot. Why all the wailing and outpouring of grief? The soppy and sentimental babbling on here for the bloke has reached fever pitch; get a grip!

    It's not like he's had a torrid time - He had the chance (and the money) to buy the right players, and he didn't make the best of it. Some were good buys, some not. That's where his inexperience at top 4 level showed. He's earned plenty of money for himself out of the gig too. He'll easily be able to walk into another manager's shoes and has gained some experience so will be unlikely to make the same mistake again, although as an ex footballer I wouldn't rule it out.

    Mancini won't last long there - His appointment shows just how ridiculously out of touch Man City's owners are. They thought that if they poured money into the club they'd have a trophy cabinet full to bursting with silverware by the end of the season. Now they're finding that it's not that simple. Expect them to sell off their plaything in the next few years....

  • Comment number 88.

    The old Shankly saying that 'chairmen shouldn't run football clubs they should just sign the cheques' is true in this case.
    Mancini is now going to be under huge pressure to deliver, not just from the owner but also from the fans.

  • Comment number 89.

    I think its a complete disgrace. Despite drawing a lot of games, they have only lost 2 league games under hughes so far. He was honest in everything he done. I feel players of the likes of Robinho let him down, he had no respet for Hughes, even though Hughes always stuck up for him about the Barcelona speculation. If City dont want Hughes, I'll gladly take hime as Liverpool manager, and SACK Benitez.

  • Comment number 90.

    Let's have the facts straight, Lescott is injured just as he was beginning to look our most solid defender, you should watch the odd game and learn a bit.

    We scored twice at Anfield, not many sides do, what was stodgy about that?

    Roque santa Cruz has yet to convince? He came carrying an injury and but for Craig Bellamy gave a man of the match performance yesterday scoring twice - yet you tell us you watch City regularly. Maybe the highlights on MOD and get your views from Hansen and lawrenson

    City are on the rise and nothing will stoip us now - get used to it

  • Comment number 91.

    I am reliably informed that the decision to get rid of Hughes was made after the Man City vs Arsenal Carling Cup tie.

    This decision was NOT solely based on results.The behaviour and etiquette of Hughes during and after that game was a major factor.

    The Man City board want their club to be a global brand and could not be proud of a manager who acted like a hooligan on the touch line and created a media storm over a handshake.

    In my opinion the decision is similar to the Mourinio sacking by Abramovic, the board were after a positive image and were not happy with the managers personality.

  • Comment number 92.

    He deserved to go, you dont spend £200m and get those kind of results. If you wish to know who was treated harshly then look no further than Avram Grant; pushed utd in the title race to the last game, and lost the champs league virtually final on one slip by Terry, and still gets sacked. Did he spend even $1m since taking over? No. Now thats what i call rough treatment. But why was it not made much of an issue and why did we not see an outpouring of sympathy for him on these boards? Perhaps because he's a foreign coach.
    Lay off Robinho, he's quality. How did you expect him to shine when he has been out injured al this time. Robinho is one of those players who will go to South Africa actually believing he will bring back home a winner's medal. Now show me any player from these shores who believes the same. Stop this anti-foreign crusade, we can see through it all.The foreign players/managers dont get the credit for having improved the game here, instead they're blamed all the time. As for hughes it was good he goes, bigger names have been sacked having spent less(mourinho, scholari,errikson, etc). By the same token if Madrid dont win anything this season then their manager has to and will go, those are the laws of football; spend and deliver, simple.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Hughes has every right to question how this decision has been arrived at so suddenly".
    This must be a definition of suddenly that I haven't encountered before.
    I've been expecting this for weeks if not months.
    With the players he has and Liverpool's failure, Man C. should have been firmly placed in the top four. If at least a couple of the matches against Wigan, Burnley, Hull and Bolton had been won Hughes would probably have kept his job. If all those games had been won, as it would not be unreasonable to expect, Man C. would be equal on points with Man U. and with a game in hand.
    I think his removal is long overdue.

  • Comment number 94.

    Mancini has a great domestic league/cup record as a manager and that is what attracted the City ownership to him. I think Mancini has far more experience coaching top sides and he will certainly do a great job at City.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hughes was a grey man with a grey personality and a grey team.

  • Comment number 96.

    It's all right saying Hughes was sacked prematurely and he was treated harshly, but the bigger picture is ignored once again. As another contributor has alluded to, many of the inconsistencies and uncertainties of Manchester City's performances under Hughes were highlighted yesterday, although that match judged by itself should not be a barometer. My thinking is that the board had seen enough to decide that in the long term, their ambitions would not be best served by retaining the services of the manager they had appointed. On the evidence of the season so far, I find it hard to disagree.

    Mark Hughes has proved himself a fine manager of teams with more limited talent and getting them to punch above their weight and that is a talent well worth appreciating. I doubt he will be waiting long to find work again. It needs a different kind of animal to be able to man manage multi-million-pound-worth players and the egos to go with it, particularly of those who think they're better players than they actually are (i.e. Robinho), and I for one don't think that is amongst Hughes' strong points. There have been many teams who raise their game against the big boys as City have done, and then show a seemingly 'can't be bothered' attitude when against the so-called 'lesser lights'. For Man City, read Arsenal and Chelsea at one end, and Burnley at home Spurs at the other end (not that I wish to downgrade Spurs as a team, but after the win against Chelsea, you'd have thought City would put a bit more effort in than they did). Middlesbrough had a similar penchant for those fluctuating attitudes and look where they are now.....

  • Comment number 97.

    Some Liverpool fans here criticising the sacking of Hughes. You stick with Rafael Benitez. Give him another 200 million pounds, sit back, relax and enjoy, before criticising others.
    At some point during the season, Cite are going to click. There is no way a group of players of that qulity will continue performing like they are doing. With better management, they should finish above Spurs, even Villa. They could finish top 4 with Mancini having done nothing. Just Hughes leaving might spark life into them - Like Liverpool did the season they won the CL..

  • Comment number 98.

    Man City have acted with a lack of morals and class in the way they have conducted themselves in the transfer market and generally-see Lescott transfer for more details. Mark Hughes, essentially a decent man, quickly bought into this way of operating and began to show the classless traits of his billionaire paymasters. Sympathy? Not much,I'm afraid, he gets a big payoff and Christmas off for one. If you live by the sword you die by the sword.
    I predict most of his buys will be replaced by Mancini's wishlist in January, proving what a joke Man City are and how ridiculous the Sky 4, money dominated premiership is.

  • Comment number 99.

    Mancini oozes style and class.
    Hughes looks and acts like a playground bully/hooligan.

    Do not underplay how critical the image and branding of the club was to making this decision.

  • Comment number 100.

    I'm deeply upset at the sacking of Hughes at this stage in the season. Although he has made some poor purchases, City have made huge progress in his tenure. Reaching a major semi-final, challenging for the top 4 and beating Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as only two defeats all season, how could he have done more without winning the title? It is apparent that the owners set targets at the beginning of the season which were simply unachievable. When will it be learnt the money can't buy a team, only players.

    I think the owners need to look at the likes of Aston Villa. Randy Learner has given Martin O'Neill time and investment and are the likely contenders to break the top 4. This is an example of the time it takes to gel a team and bring success.

    I suppose we should expect another £200m or so bounded about on player with overinflated price tags.


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