BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
« Previous | Main | Next »

Hughes must prove staying power

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 19:14 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

Mark Hughes was the victim of Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook's infamous "trajectory of results" when he was shown the door at Eastlands and replaced within a matter of minutes by Roberto Mancini.

Hughes nursed an acute sense of injustice, shared by many observers inside and outside City, and public humiliation when he took charge of the 4-3 win against Sunderland in December 2009 with the word already out that his time was up as soon as the final whistle sounded.

The 47-year-old is walking away from Fulham with that same trajectory on an upward curve after a season in which he heard demands for his dismissal at Craven Cottage before a strong conclusion rebuilt his reputation and earned a place in the Europa League via the Fair Play standings.

Hughes, in a statement met with heavy cynicism, insisted his decision to activate a break clause in his two-year contract had not been prompted by the intervention of "an outside party" after Gerard Houllier left Aston Villa on health grounds only 24 hours earlier.

It may well be, though, that the bitterness Hughes felt at the manner in which he was sacked at City hardened his belief that it is every man for himself in Premier League management and if a faster train is about to pull up at the platform, he will jump aboard.

The dust has not yet settled on Villa's decision to part company with Houllier, or indeed where Hughes' next destination might be, but it is clear the Welshman believes he is on the way to bigger and better things.

In his eventful time at Eastlands, during which the Abu Dhabi riches rolled up at the door, Cook also claimed Hughes had been hit by what he described as "bowling ball syndrome" - namely when you opened a cupboard one of these painful objects landed on your head.

This was not literally true of course. Cook meant that Hughes had occasionally been underminded by events that were unexpected and beyond his control. Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed must have felt like he had been hit by a 16-ton weight when it became clear his manager was leaving on Thursday.

Mark Hughes

Hughes has managed Wales, Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham

Hughes may well be, in his own words, "a young ambitious manager" but he is now getting a reputation as a nomadic one. He is leaving Fulham after spells in charge of Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and now a new home. Whether this is Villa Park remains to be seen, with sources in the Midlands insisting owner Randy Lerner wants to explore the possibility of landing sacked former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti before committing himself to any move for Hughes.

It is tough on Fulham, who stood by Hughes amid the early turmoil and who lost Roy Hodgson to Liverpool this time last year. Chief executive Alistair Mackintosh, who worked with Hughes at City, runs a tight ship but there is no doubt Hughes' departure will come as a destabilising blow.

And it takes quite a leap of the imagination to believe Hughes has burned his boats so comprehensively at Craven Cottage without being certain another post would present itself in the very near future.

Hughes and his trusted team of right-hand man Mark Bowen, Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Niedzwiecki have proved to be an effective and tight-knit unit. They have are adept at organising a team and uniting a dressing room - which may prove a key element if they do take over at Villa after the public disharmony of the Houllier era.

Villa is also a team in danger of seeing important elements breaking up, with England pair Ashley Young and Stewart Downing hinting strongly they may see their future elsewhere. This will be a top priority on the agenda of their new manager and a crucial early test.

It will need a powerful character, a criteria Hughes fulfils perfectly but credentials also high on Ancelotti's CV after a coaching career managing high-profile personalities on the pitch and in the boardroom.

Lerner will make his choice carefully after being caught out by O'Neill's departure just days before the start of last season and the turbulence of Houllier's tenure that was eventually ended after he suffered heart problems. Hughes has to serve a month's notice under the terms of his contract and Lerner is certain to use that time to explore every option before alighting on his final choice.

Hughes is also under pressure once he takes his next post. He needs to demonstrate he can put down roots and show he can establish a management model and stick with it for the long-term.

His fate at Manchester City was out of his hands but he willingly walked away from Blackburn and Fulham - wherever he goes he has to show his capability to fashion a vision that he will stick with over a number of years.

He must ensure the trajectory of results heads skywards and keep it there.

You can follow me at and join me on Facebook.


Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Once again Fulham have been left high & dry. Regardless of whether you liked him or not, yet another manager has shown a huge disrespect to the club.

  • Comment number 2.

    Mark Hughes is a great manager and I'm sure he'll have great success wherever he goes, be it Villa (most likely) or wherever else.

  • Comment number 3.

    The problem for any manager is that they are the football experts. The Chairman (ie Mr Money) needs to put his trust in the manager. As I have said before football is about building a team. Man U have had a good season without their star player really shining for most of the time. Chelsea and Man City have the stars, but aren't quite teams yet. Sparky needs to stay and build a team if he wants to be considered a great manager. At Villa he has a nucleus of a team, but it is work in progress. He needs to get more variation in attack and needs to get a disciplined defence. Is he up to the job?

    As a Villa supporter I would rather have a year of progress than a year of complete change.

  • Comment number 4.

    no loyalty by players or managers only by fans.Give them a job and this is what they do

  • Comment number 5.

    Ancelotti or Hughes ...........mmmmmmm

    after a few seconds of thought...

    mark Hughes every time, he might be younger with less experience and still have to prove himself over the long distance
    but he knows english football inside out and i believe will prove to have the passion and steadying effect Villa need atm

  • Comment number 6.

    Would like Hughes at Villa - will inject a bit of passion. Sign him up fast!

  • Comment number 7.

    Why the smoke-screen though? He had a clause in his contract anyway. Just be honest, for once.

    I don't agree that he is a great manager, he's a competent one, if a little naive, however, why would Villa want someone, that is not likely to stick around for the long term.

    I understand his ambition and wanting to better yourself but Hughes is bouncing around like grasshopper. Agree with Phil's notion, that he needs to settle, build a team and show success over the longer term. At least until United offer him a job anyway....

  • Comment number 8.

    I always saw sparky as more of a transitional manager anyway. I don’t think many Fulham fans saw him in it for the long haul, well I certainly didnt. After Hodgson I think we just needed someone to steady the ship, make sure we didnt get relegated, and if you think about it Hughes has probably exceeded expectation. I don’t really hold that much ill-will towards him, I don’t like him personally, but its not like this was a shocking piece of news, and I don’t think he can be blamed too much. Plus I genuinely believe he really enjoyed his time by the river, and will always look back on it fondly. Furthermore we can’t really accuse him of showing no passion, after all he got sent to the stands against Wolves away, and on numerous occasions upset other managers (Pulis comes to mind). He did care.

    As for who I want to see come in. I want to see Lee Clark. His record with Huddersfield is great, 3 seasons, finished 8th, 6th and 3rd. Progression every year. He has history with the club, being our club captain in 04/05, he has premier league coaching experience with Newcastle, and mainly (for me anyway) he is a promising young English manager, the likes of which are becoming evermore rare in the Premier League. With our squad, I don’t see too many issues with the threat of relegation next season, so any inexperience Clark may show hopefully would not be too detrimental to our club. Also if we take a punt on Clark we can tie him down for the long term, and let him build the team himself, take us out of the Hodgson era and move us on.

    It would be a definite risk, and a safe pair of hands like Martin Jol may seem more attractive. I am just looking at successful managers and clubs, they achieve success by staying with the same manager for multiple season. I think its time for Fulham to step up and take a risk, and hopefully enjoy more success with a long term manager at our helm. Lee Clark, I’m looking at you.

    Phil you literally dont mention Fulham at all, about what we are going to do. Once again, small Fulham gets forgotten. Has an English team ever reached a european final with so little interest as we did. I'm just saying.

  • Comment number 9.

    Not at all surprised. Always got the impression that Hughes thought the Fulham job was beneath him.

  • Comment number 10.


    You may want to think more than a few seconds.

    Hughes is tactically naive and doesn't show any signs of learning from it. The draw specialist because of his defensive incapabilities.

  • Comment number 11.

    so you are now a "nomadic" manager after one unjust dismissal and leaving another job a year later? My gosh I guess you think someone who has 2 drinks is an Alcoholic then Phil!

  • Comment number 12.

    Nice one Hughes. You've already shown us you don't have what it takes at a bigger club. Would love to laugh in your face when it all goes wrong at Villa. Very poor show of loyalty.

  • Comment number 13.

    Laughingdevil - He left the Welsh job and the Blackburn post, prior to leaving Fulham, all of his own accord, and in the space of 6 years.

    Nomadic? Maybe not, but at the same time, you wouldn't label him a settler either.

  • Comment number 14.

    Phil, I hardly say 5 years at Wales, 4 years at Blackburn and being unfairly removed as City boss makes him a nomad manager. Mark Hughes has performed well at all the places he has managed with 3 top 10's at Blackburn and almost getting Wales qualified for Euro 2004, he was never given enough time at City and was always going to use Fulham as a way to get back on to the managing ladder on to bigger and better things.

    Chairmans are all to quick to fire managers nowadays and so good luck to Hughes for taking the initiative with his managerial career.

  • Comment number 15.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 16.

    Pleased to see that there haven't been too many cries of Judas and the usual nonsense. He's given Fulham a decent enough season and feels he can progress his career elsewhere.

    Couldn't agree more with #7 though: If - as seems apparent - he knows where he's going, then why not just say so? It would be nice to have a change from all this spin.

  • Comment number 17.

    With respect Phil, unless you know exactly why he has left you cannot say,

    "it will be time for a manager who is starting to acquire a nomadic reputation to put down roots and prove he can build a long-term model as a manager".

    He was fired by Man City, he didn't walk away.

    Had he been fired by Fulham what would you have printed?

    Hughes is doing the rounds, I suspect all at Old Trafford are pleased that he is.
    I have long thought Hughes will be the manager to replace Sir Alex.


  • Comment number 18.

    Ancelotti or Hughes - Two very different managers but either could do a good job at Villa and so I would not be too disappointed with either. However, one has to question Hughes' actions. Another nail in the coffin for the last remaining threads of loyalty in football.

    May I also remind you Phil that you lambasted me in no uncertain terms on here at the start of last season for expressing my concerns over Gerard Houllier's health saying I would not want to subject someone with such a condition to the stresses of Premiership management.

    One year later, have you now grasped what I meant?

  • Comment number 19.

    His last words to the management were "It's me or the Michael Jackson Statue" .....

  • Comment number 20.

    #13 see #14, he was in both jobs longer than the average PL manager is.

    I wouldn't say he's Mr longevitiy, but he's hardly nomadic either.

    Just another piece of journalistic hyperbowl from one of its biggerst proponents.

  • Comment number 21.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 22.

    I do think you're being a bit rash with this blog post. Mark's hardly a manager who hops from job-to-job at the drop of a hat. I also think it's unfair to judge him for leaving - the fact he had that clause in his contract means that Fulham and everyone there were aware of the fact Mark would probably leave come the seasons end. I do think it's wrong of Mark to say he left for no reason, when we all know he's probably going to Villa, a bit of honesty there would probably have been a bit more tactful and respectful.

    I'd love for Al Fayed to appoint Martin O'Neill as manager, I for one have missed him in the Premier League and Fulham have European football next season and a decent enough side so they're an appealing prospect you have to say. Mind you, I wonder if Big Sam regrets hitching his wagon to West Ham so early with this Fulham job having come open?

    I wish Mark Hughes luck, he was terribly unlucky at Manchester City, and I truly thought he would succeed Sir Alex when he retires, I don't think that any more but he could definitely stake a claim by doing well at Villa.

    The managerial merry-go-round continues, and it'll be interesting to see who Fulham do appoint eventually.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think he went as Fulham are not going to give him money and would they really just let him leave if someone came in no they wouldn't so he left. He is a good manager and Villa would be the right club as he can stabilise them and himself.

  • Comment number 24.

    "It may well be, though, that the bitterness Hughes felt at the manner in which he was sacked at City hardened his belief that it is every man for himself in Premier League management and if a faster train is about to pull up at the platform, he will jump aboard".

    So once again City get the blame for something that has nothing to do with the club at all. How is it that when Hughes walked out on Blackburn to City & he was proclaimed as the best young British Manager for years, yet when he walks out on Fulham after 12 months he's not doing it because he wants a bigger & better club/job (in his opinion not mine) but probably because he's still traumatised at being sacked by City? You really couldn't make it up could you? Actually you did, well done BBC.

  • Comment number 25.

    He should have to compensate them if you ask me.

  • Comment number 26.

    # 8 A Moussa Have

    Very good post, I hope you get your wishes and that they work out.

    # 15 Mr Chelsea

    You are right to some extent but the club backed him when the boo boys were on his back and seemed happy to continue with him into new season.

  • Comment number 27.

    Agree with everything by @A Moussa Have

    8th place - mainly without Zamora - and whilst maintaining the excellent disciplinary record, is a hell of an achievement so no hard feelings towards Hughes on my part.

    Would have been nice to have seen a bit more about Fulham in the article. Tempted to support the call for Lee Clark but it would be a hell of a risk.

    Martin Jol likely to be the fans favourite but if Ancelotti is settled in West London and doesn't want to move far....?

  • Comment number 28.

    Good riddance. Although he did a fair job he never seemed to fit. He might have made the right noises, but somehow it was always a little bit strained and unconvincing.

    I'm not convinced that him and his cronies don't have another move lined up, be it Villa or even Chelsea. To be honest I don't care - he's history at FFC now. Hughes might have acted within the terms of his contract, but I'm sure he still feels he's too good for 'little' Fulham.

    I just hope that our next appointment genuinely wants to build something at our great club and will see it through and show some loyalty for a change.

  • Comment number 29.

    To Cleef1....I'll happily take your word on what you said about Houllier's health but I think it is an insult to him to suggest he was a sick man when he took on the job. He has a heart condition but he was given a clean bill of health when he took the job. To suggest he was ill before he took the job is also wrong.

    On Hughes, I just think he really needs to make his next job count. Sure he was unlucky at Man City but he walked away from Blackburn willingly and has done the same to Fulham. Needs to stay somewhere for a length of time and achieve something.

    If he fails in his next job, would another big club be happy to take a risk on him? I'm not so sure.

  • Comment number 30.

    Fair play to hughes for leaving. Why wait to be sacked by Fayed if things don't go right next year?? the Clubs don't show any loyalty, The players don't so why then should the managers?

    Why is Hughes being lambasted for trying to better his career (and thats not a dig at Fulham)?

    Think he would do well at Villa and would be the kind of Manager that would be able to keep Young and Downing at Villa for at least another season.

    Although i hope Young comes to Liverpool. Not so keen on Downing. Never really rated him. but thats just my opinion.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's a good job the supporters are loyal, where would we be if they were not.
    That question is addressed to the rather hard-faced 'he feels he can progress elsewhere' brigade.

  • Comment number 32.

    Disappointed Hughes has decided to resign, after getting us into Europe I thought he would fancy a good crack at that especially with bobby being fully fit also I thought he may have seen where he could get us, clearly he doesnt feel the same, but I'm struggling to see that Villa will be a great move for him....

    Sure in the past they have been a great club but it is not a huge step above us, I just feel if he could have given us one more season we may have been able to get to the latter stages of the Europa again and improve on our Premier League place, this would have put him on the map more so and greatly enhanced his reputation.

    As For where we go next.....I just we make an appointment as soon as possible, albeit the right one, we are back in a few weeks and a nice quick positive appointment like O'Neill or Martinez would be promising.

  • Comment number 33.

    # 30 Liverpaul85

    A bit harsh that. Would you revise your opinion if say Kenny went to Barca to replace Pep going to Chelsea? Purely hypothetical of course.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hughes is going to Villa to gain experience of a club with ambition and could win an odd domestic cup at. He wants more experience to try and put him in line with Fergies retirement. Unfortunately for him, I think Jose is a cert when Fergie leaves (and Jose's won the lot in Spain with Real - giving them their 10th European title)

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 33 cashforhonours

    I get what your saying there but to be honest, I would wish him well and say thanks for saving us last year!

    I would be disappointed of course. but at the same time i understand this is football and after having torres leave us this year i have kind of changed my opinion on football as a whole.

    There is no Loyalty from most clubs nowadays so why should players or managers show loyalty?? Its a business at the end of the day! Got to look after number 1 in this world, cause no one else will look after you!

  • Comment number 36.

    "Hughes is also under pressure once he takes his next post. He needs to demonstrate he can put down roots and show he can establish a management model and stick with it for the long-term."

    I think that statement is a bit unfair: nearly five years with Wales and four with Blackburn. Hughes left Blackburn for Man City, a much more challenging prospect than Blackburn, and as you say, it wasn't his fault he got the sack. Also, not so sure he was that involved with the Robinho signing, my take is that he was as surprised as the rest of us -- don't forget that Robinho thought he was signing-up for the other Manchester club.

  • Comment number 37.

    # 34 curiouser & curiouser...

  • Comment number 38.


    Sorry, but he is NOT fly-by-night. That's the first job he's left voluntarily after less than 4 years.

    And I agree with #17-Fergie's obvious successor.

  • Comment number 39.

    Here is a list of all the trophies Mark Hughes has won as a manager:

    Even Roy Hodgson has done better than that.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 39 Magic Hatter

    that actually made me LOL. awesome!

  • Comment number 41.

    "no loyalty by players or managers only by fans."
    Fans show loyalty to the club, but little to the players and managers. The length of time on someone's contract quickly switches from what they owe the club/the fans, to what the club can use as a bargaining tool.

  • Comment number 42.

    # 35 Liverpaul85

    Ah come on mate, and I will see you on the Stretford End next season or whatever it is they call that piece of real estate these days.

  • Comment number 43.


    What a stupid description. 5 years with Wales, 4 with Blackburn, unjustly sacked by Man City's new owners, it's hardly a tale of walkouts and resignations is it? The Fulham role will be the first that he genuinely walked away from without really making his own mark. It's a far more solid history than over 50% of top flight managers that's for sure.

    He left Wales at the right time for both parties, he had really taken them as far as he could have done so and everyone knew that the team were entering a transitional phase at best.

    He left Blackburn for a bigger club with bigger ambitions, again ho much farther do you honestly think he or anyone else could have taken a team like Blackburn? 3 top 10 finishes is the best they could ever hope for as things stood (and still stand).

    In both cases he did the best job it was possible to do, very few managers when offered a genuinely better opportunity would stick with a dead end.

    Or are you telling us that you would have happily kept writing for the local rags when offered a job at a national news organisation? Oops wait I guess you can't say that can you. Hypocrite.

  • Comment number 44.

    4.At 21:54 2nd Jun 2011, poachergeoff wrote:
    no loyalty by players or managers only by fans.Give them a job and this is what they do

    You are joking. The fans wanted him gone not too long ago. Loyalty from the fans...? Yah right.

    Good luck Mark. The Fulham fans showed their "loyalty" earlier this season without giving you any time to make a difference. You're better off without supporters like that.

  • Comment number 45.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 46.

    Despite the fact that Mark Hughes was rather condescending towards David Moyes and Everton regarding the Joleon Lescott transfer saga, how can anybody criticise a manager for showing ambition and taking control of their own career?

    As already stated above, leaving Fulham after one season is not enough to label him a nomad. If Fulham had have been relegated Al Fayed would have shown him the door.

    Loyalty is very rare in professional football, outside of the world of the fan. Half of your clubs' directors wouldn't give you the time of day, even if you were the most die-hard season ticket holder.

  • Comment number 47.

    Everyone must remember who Hughes played for and who is about to retire from a managerial position. Could he be positioning himself for such a move??? He is after all a successful manager who never missed a training session in his career.

  • Comment number 48.

    It's poor show from Mark Hughes.

    He has messed around with players careers, in a revolution that lasted less than a year. Quite disappointed in him and I'm sure the players are too.

  • Comment number 49.

    SPARKY was very unlucky at City I thought. But I like his commitment as I did as a player. Good luck where ever you are.

    I think our chief writer has an intern. Apart from the first line "Manchester" is a word Phil uses a lot! The rest is clearly the thoughts of some fresh minded student or graduate. I enjoyed them, which in themselves mean the are not Phils thoughts.

  • Comment number 50.

    Not related to this article, but does anyone know another football forum like 606? I was on JA606 but it has closed down.

  • Comment number 51.

    I really don't understand why this has been made into a big issue?!

    Sparky has done a decent job everywhere he's been but with the state of football at the moment, why would he be expected to stay at Fulham?

    The fans there have shown as much loyalty to him as most of the Liverpool fans did to Hodgson (me included)

    Hughes is trying to up his reputation and unfortunately, despite having all the makings of a good club, Fulham can't do that for him. I think he will go to a top 7 side soon and then enhance his reputation. Maybe he will be the next barca manager when Pep takes the United job??

  • Comment number 52.

    Apparently, Villa say that don't want him?

    Think some of the comments here are a bit harsh..suspect there's more to it than meets the eye - was Hughes ever really settled in London.

    And some fair points made about loyalty - if it had been up to Fulham fans Hughes would have gone after the loss to West Ham.

    O' Neill might be interesting but he's another who's never worked in London before.

    Think we may have dodged a bullet with Big Sam already signed up to West Ham

  • Comment number 53.

    Forgive me if someone has already mentioned it but does nobody on here think that he may end up at Chelsea?
    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 54.

    Quite obvious really Hughes left because Ancelotti will take the job at Fulham. He likes London, he is a cosmopolitan Italian and he will be managing in Europe...its a no brainer really. Hughes left he saw the writing on the wall

  • Comment number 55.

    @ #13 Burlow_74: "He left the Welsh job and the Blackburn post, prior to leaving Fulham, all of his own accord, and in the space of 6 years. "

    Hogwash. Hughes was at Wales for *5 whole years* and left to help Blackburn - who he had played for - battle relegation. He left Blackburn after nearly 4 years because he was given a wonderful opportunity to manage an emerging financial giant. One unjustified and premature sacking later, he took on a job with a borderline club who have a history of losing managers (and players) to bigger clubs... and eventually left them.

    Nomad? Hardly. Ambitious? Probably. He did play for Barcelona, Bayern, Man U and Chelsea; which is more than can be said for most British "stars" nowadays.

    Your arbitrary "4 jobs in 6 years" idea would make managers as loyal as Big Sam Allardyce (8 years at Bolton) or Alex McLeish (Hibs, 5 yrs Rangers, Scotland, and 4 years Birmingham so far) look like nomadic wanderers, if you apply it right.

    Don't believe everything you read from a journalist in search of sensation.

  • Comment number 56.

    What's with all the revisionist blah on Hughes? Few thought he was up to the high expectations at City when he started anyway. Though he didn't do a "bad" job, the team did not look like it was improving but rather surviving. More importantly unless a high quality player was a reject from his team or just unhappy with his lot, Hughes was unlikely to attract any great international talent. He's nobody outside of the UK and the PTB at City were kind to keep him on for as long as they did.

    You can smell the Ferguson envy on him from the other side of the planet. In my opinion there are better British managers. Nothing wrong with having aspirations but Hughes needs to settle himself somewhere. Since he took the helm at Fulham he's done a good job with Hodgson's team, but as another poster suggested he has always given the impression that it was beneath him. Perhaps he's afraid a good stay at club will expose him for the mediocre manager he is.

  • Comment number 57.

    Mark Hughes did an awful job at City, he was fairly sacked because he has impotent tactically, he bought mid class player for top dollar, he was obsessed with getting players City didn’t need (Rocky, Lescot, etc...) and was very disrespectful to clubs didn’t want to sell (Everton, Blackburn, etc...).

    Incase you haven’t noticed, since he left we won the FA cup and finished joined 2nd in the league.

    Besides, we now saw what Hughes does when a club and a chairman stand by him regardless of his "trajectory of results”

    Phil McNulty seems to incorporate more of his personal feelings and agenda into this blog, which is totally the opposite of what journalism stands for. I have no idea why the BBC doesn’t do what City did with Hughes. The flaws are so clear even the blind can see.

  • Comment number 58.

    Adebayor £25 million
    Santa Cruz £17.5 million
    Bridge £10 million
    Wright-Phillips £8.5million
    Lescott £22-£24 million


  • Comment number 59.

    Spot on Phil; the owners and (often enough) the fans show no hesitation in ridding themselves of management so why should the manager hesitate. Feel for Fulham though, all the years Ive been following the EPL they've been one of the most consistent and challenging middle tier teams to play against, bags of respect for them and their fans.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hughes has shown Fulham unbelievable disrespect. I think he has shot himself in the foot though. He can't talk to anyone till the end of June and he's hoping for the Spurs job, not Villa, and I can't see Redknapp leaving this summer, next summer when England come calling maybe. Hughes thinks the grass is greener, but I've got feeling he is going to find there isn't any.

  • Comment number 61.

    So how about a game of musical chairs? MON to Fulham and Sparky to Villa?

    The issue for Villa is to have a manager and a promise of spending which will keep Young and perhaps Downing. (Milner and Barry's stars falling could be a warning to them). Sparky might fit the bill, but he has taken a high risk strategy. What we don't know is whether there were funds at Fulham to build the team. I think we are in an era where there will be a hunt for Barca type players and that will be expensive (and probably a waste of money). Football could be at a bit of a turning point.

  • Comment number 62.

    A bit unfair, and quick to label Hughes as "transitional", don't you think Phil?

    It is a bit strange if, as claimed, no talks have been held with any other clubs. I feel there is possibly a lot more to this story, beneath the surface, which may come out later - or possibly we will never know until another Fulham manager comes and goes.

    If Hughes feels he has better options ahead, then one can hardly blame him for openig the door to them. It is not as if clubs are loyal to managers, are they? We have seen time and again that contracts are only there to be broken, so maybe Hughes should be praised for doing it the "right" way, at a time when the club has every opportunity to appoint a successor who can lead the club from the start.

  • Comment number 63.

    Disappointing behaviour from Hughes - any sympathy I had for him after the City sacking has vanished.

    Let's hope Fulham find a decent replacement - one who also understands the meaning of loyalty - and carry on punching above their weight.

  • Comment number 64.

    A bit unfair, and quick to label Hughes as "transitional", don't you think Phil?

    It is a bit strange if, as claimed, no talks have been held with any other clubs. I feel there is possibly a lot more to this story, beneath the surface, which may come out later - or possibly we will never know until another Fulham manager comes and goes.

    If Hughes feels he has better options ahead, then one can hardly blame him for openig the door to them. It is not as if clubs are loyal to managers, are they? We have seen time and again that contracts are only there to be broken, so maybe Hughes should be praised for doing it the "right" way, at a time when the club has every opportunity to appoint a successor who can lead the club from the start.

  • Comment number 65.

    Absolutelt mental. I can only guess someone has seriously annoyed him. If not then he's either deluded or lying about other offers. Fulham has a great team, there are bigger clubs in need of more players to achieve their goals. Fulham need only backup their current squad to counteract any losses or injuries. Even if he does go to Villa he'll have a harder job there meeting their targets with that squad.

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry .... see my post has come up twice - browser was showing it as not loading.

  • Comment number 67.

    No-one resigns and leaves their job without good cause or reason. Although highly paid, those in football still need to be seen in the public eye and successful.

    There is no doubt something has caused Hughes to "throw the towel in" at Fulham and I have no doubt all will be revealed before too long.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good blog Phil.

    I'm a huge Villa supporter, and I do not believe Hughes to be the man to take the club forward. His derogatory remarks about Man City being the big club when taking Lescott from Everton did not sit well with me. Everton are a fine football club, and if I'm not mistaken the 5th most successful english club (one step ahead of us).

    Hughes was poorly treated by Man City, but I feel he has not covered himself in glory when he left Blackburn, and now Fulham. I for one would love to have David Moyes at Villa, or Owen Coyle. Both know how to play the game in the proper way, and show class out of the dug-out too.

    Slightly off subject, I am disappointed Houllier has left the club, he was doing well for us by changing the training philosophy, and I felt youth would be good in his hands. True results weren't great, but could we have kept him as a Director Of Football?

  • Comment number 69.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 70.

    Loyalty is very overrated. People only stay somewhere until they get a better offer from somewhere else. People stay a long time in one job either becuase nobody else wants them or they are very comfortable where they are.

    Fulham took a gamble last season when they only signed up Hughes for a year. That suggests the appointment always had a short term feel to it.

    Sure Hughes needs to make his next job count, but then again so do the majority of managers. As this is the first job Hughes has walked out on after only a short stay its going a bit far to call him nomadic.

  • Comment number 71.

    Stuart mcfc@31.
    A man citeh fan talks about loyalty!
    How many managers have your club sacked these last 25yrs?
    How many chairmen have your fans rounded on and hounded out of the club?
    It was only in August after a couple of pre season friendly defeats and again in November that the web sites were inundated with posts from you berties demanding Mancini be sacked.
    And you were'nt exactly heartbroke when Hughes was stabbed in the back before a league game at the council squat. And while you fluked a cup win with Mancini..who knows..Sparky may well have bettered that with a title.
    Oh well..should Hughes'y join Villa..he will finally be a manager of a big club.
    All the best Mark lad.

  • Comment number 72.

    As a Fulham fan I'm pretty devastated. At the end of the season only a few weeks ago, he was saying how he'd enjoyed his first season in charge, and had all the hallmarks of a manager ready to kick on and enjoying his stay at a club that wasn't demanding ridiculous things from him. Felt for him when he was ejected from City, and thought he'd be great with us. Can't understand this.

    I get the feeling some members of the press (not you Phil nessecerily) and fans are viewing this as Hughes using us as a stepping stone to bigger things. What I don't understand, however, is where this bigger thing is. If it's Aston Villa...with the greatest respect to Villa fans, it would be a sideways step. Say what you like about the club, but I'd say Fulham and Villa are level at the moment, and Fulham have European football next season - albeit the one no-one seems to want to win, the Europa League. Unless something reveals itself in the coming weeks, then I can't help but think Hughes has believed his own press and jumped, thinking a really top-level club will come his way. His closing statement is pretty arrogant, too - yeah, be a young ambitious manager, but what was wrong with us? He'd have time (okay yes there was pressure on him, not from me I have to say, but he settled in), relatively low expectations (unlike at Chelsea where he'd have to win everything in his first season to avoid the sack), and a good solid team to work with.

    I do wish him well for the future, but I can't help but feel Fulham have been undermined once again. The Martin Jol farce last season was another example. Shame Roy's been tied down to a contract at WBA, from a personal standpoint I'd absolutely love to have him back.

    As for replacements...not Ancelotti. I don't know...I can't help but think he wouldn't fit. It would be a reverse Hodgson scenario - whereas Roy was out of his depth dealing with big superstar players at Liverpool, Ancelotti would be a glamorous big-name manager dealing with a squad that isn't full of superstars. I don't know if that would cause problems. I'd like to see us give a chance to a young English manager - I can't vouch for Lee Clark, but I've heard very good things about him, but I'd absolutely love to get in Chris Hughton. Absolutely deserves another chance in the PL (guess we can't call it the EPL anymore eh?), a young manager who worked well under the lunatic ownership at Newcastle, and I'm sure he'd love working in his native London once again. I can't help but think he'd be an IDEAL fit for us.

    PS Let me make clear again, I mean no beef with Villa fans. I just can't understand what more Villa have to offer over Fulham at this current time, except perhaps a marginally better squad in some areas.

  • Comment number 73.

    I would never choose Hughes over Moyes or Ancelotti. Moyes proved that he can built a team year by year even with limited resources and Ancelotti is one of the greatest coaches of these days. but the latter would be too big for a club with relatively limited budget like Villa.

    the question is: why would Moyes change for the same (or a bit more resources but not enough to get into the first 4) and why would Ancelotti come to a club with less possibilities than any of his former ones??

    all-in all: compared to these two Hughes is just a promise who might think of himself far too much. agree with Phil: first he should prove himself like Moyes did at Everton or Ancelotti - THEN he can dream of a better job. the issue is: Fulham would have been the perfect place for him to prove...

  • Comment number 74.

    Hughes for Chelsea anuone? because no hi profile managers are not coming. It will be either Hughes or Abrahimovich :)

    And Phil stop making idiotic comments.. Hughes spend 4 years and 5 years in 2 Jobs, NOMADIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Got sacked in one job and FUlham was never the job for him.. So use your brain and facts before commenting,

    If he is Nomadic waht Maurinho is then?

  • Comment number 75.

    It shows what state our football is in when people think that staying with a club, or national team, for a whole 4 or 5 years is considered to be a sign of stability.

  • Comment number 76.

    Hughes was fired from Man City simply because he couldn't manage the crop of Big Name players that suddenly appeared. I think both he and his management team knew he was completely out of his depth when the money arrived. Man Utd be warned when your time comes for a new Manager.

    Clubs on a limited budget like Blackburn and Fulham, as well as Man City prior to the Arab invasion, suit Hughes: expectations are lower, so mid-table mediocrity and the odd cup run is considered a relative success. If Villa do go for him, then I can't see him make any real progress beyond the mid-table side that we are.

  • Comment number 77.

    74. Love_of_football
    It’s not idiotic to call Hughes nomadic when he’s made it clear three times now that he’s happy to drop everything at a moment’s notice and walk away from a set-up that’s built around him. If Fulham was never the job for him, why did he take it? I loved Hughes as a player and rate him as a manager (and was furious at Man City’s treatment of him) but treating a Premiership club as such an obvious convenience is disrespectful.

    And if you’re asking what Mourinho is, the answer is he’s the guy who leaves teams after taking them to the pinnacle of achievement. Left Porto and Inter as CL winners, and left Chelsea (not of his choice) with a full trophy cabinet for the first time in their history. Phil is spot on. Hughes needs to think about how the world is seeing him today and demonstrate some loyalty, even if he’s bitter than Man City showed him none.

  • Comment number 78.

    There are several jobs available he could apply for but I think either Chelsea or Bayern would be his preferred options as he was a successful player at both clubs and both are in the Champions League and have mnoney to spend. Villa never struck me as where he would end up. I think Moyes or Ancelotti will take over there and Jol at Fulham. Lee Clark would be interesting but I think he will be cautious given what happened when Paul Ince stepped up from League 1 to the Premier League

  • Comment number 79.

    Don't really see Hughes as nomadic, just a professional in a short term game, and he did stick around at other clbs as has been mentioned. Plenty of managers and fans even, will say that a manager/head coach shelf life is probably no more than 3 years, and some are lucky to get that. Like many, when he joined Fulham I felt like it was only a 12 month gig with a further 12 month option. He's done his job and exercised his option as much as Fulham could have, and indeed it didn't look like Fulham exactly strained a muscle to secure him for longer. His moving on doesn't really come as a surprise, and maybe all parties were aware of how things stood.

    Always see Villa as perennial under achievers and a bit of a graveyard of ambitions. Many managers have gone there and tried and failed to deliver on the potential of the club. Hughes would be taking a big gamble to go there to realise 'ambitions'. For me it would be more interesting to see him at a big club in Germany where he has many admirers, and competing on the european stage.

    As a coach Hughes is passionate, pragmatic, disciplined, organised and determined. Maybe lacking a bit of flair, but he knows what he wants and sets his team accordingly. Whether he can manage 'superstars' at a 'big' club is the bit missing off his CV, but he's obviously looking for an opportunity to do so.

  • Comment number 80.

    Phil McNulty is wrong - there is no need for Mark Hughes to show his staying power. Just like you, me and particularly in the football world he has ambition. He wants to manage one of the big clubs, Man U, Chelsea, maybe Arsenal eventually. He needs to get a club to the Champions League, otherwise he won't get the big clubs. Its a simple as that. Chances of Fulham reaching the Champions League are minimal.
    Also regarding Carlo Ancelotti, no chance that he would go to Aston Villa. A multi champions league winner as a player and as a manager, AC Milan, Juventus and Chelsea in his CV. Come on be realistic. He has already made it. Only the best would do for Ancelotti, other than his home town club. He doesn't need to re-build a club like Villa. This would be like you, Phil, having to go back to what you were doing 10 years ago.

  • Comment number 81.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not the same Mark Hughes that loads of Fulham fans were calling to have sacked around the new year ?

    Or is it a different one.

  • Comment number 82.

    Quite shocked at hearing this, but as already pointed out - he had a clause in his contract! Why would Fulham put this is the contract in the first place if they didn't want this kind of scenario to come about.

    A couple of people talking about Moyes for Villa. Really wouldn't want to see that. As a Man United fan, I still hold very slim hopes of David Moyes taking over from Ferguson but I can't see that happening in this day and age (despite being an obvious choice).

    Fulham need to sort out their manager soon because their season could be a very long one with the Europa Place earnt in the Fair Play rankings. They are a club that can be easily sucked into relegation and I wouldn't want to see that because I really like them a lot.

  • Comment number 83.

    "a criteria Hughes fulfils perfectly"
    A criteria? What's the plural of criteria, then? Criterias?
    What's a criterion? Is it half of "a criteria"?
    I'm old enough to remember when "BBC English" set the standard.

  • Comment number 84.

    "Hughes had been hit by what he described as "bowling ball syndrome" - namely when you opened a cupboard one of these painful objects landed on your head.

    This was not literally true of course."

    Thanks for this Phil. I might have struggled to figure out that Mark Hughes has not literally been hit by a bowling ball falling from a cupboard. Please don't patronise and assume your readers are all Jamie Redknapp and can't follow a simple analogy.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have to agree, If someone offered me, you or the next man a better job with better money we'd all take it like a shot... so why should he be any different!

  • Comment number 86.

    I've always rated Mark Hughes as a player and a manager. He gave 100% in his playing career and, as far as I can see, has also given the same in his managerial career.

    If Sparky joins Villa then Villa have been given a tool to move on. If my team needed a new manager I would gladly accept.

  • Comment number 87.

    @83 and @84 - Do you have nothing better to do? pointless, grumpy, pathetic post's! Let's talk about the matter in hand... If you want to discuss the English language etc... go else where!

  • Comment number 88.

    #85 - because in general all rationality and reason flies out of the window the minute something involves football and fans struggle to apply the same rules of normal life into football as they are projecting their hoes and aspirations on to their team and it seems that it hurts more when something goes wrong

  • Comment number 89.

    Hughes will probably be making th biggest mistake of his managerial career to date if he doesnt get the Villa job? He was out after City showed him the exit without knowing when he will get back into the game until L'pool took on Roy. Big Sam has had to go to relegated west Ham to rebuild his career, Roy Keane well we can se his challenges. Hughes if not carefull will create a negative reputation for himself leaving club owners limited opions but to stay away. See what happened to MaClaren, won the title in dutch league who gave him a chance, skipped to Germany and failed woefully, now he is wondering where his next job will come from? Hughes is not in the top class of young managers such as Jose and coaches of Porto & Braga, or even Mancini. He is average and should have stayed at Fulham to earn a reputation

  • Comment number 90.

    Phil McNulty is wrong, again.
    Man City, rightly or wrongly, sacked him.
    Show me a successful manager of Wales since the '50s. Hughes took them closer to a major tournament finals than any.
    So that leaves 2 clubs he has walked out on. Wow, really nomadic that.
    Perhaps he couldn't get along with Fayed at Fulham.

  • Comment number 91.

    Has he won anything as a manager?

    Didn't he bleat on when fired by City?...yet he sees no problem in walking away from Fulham.

    I think his plan is the Villa job, then a play for the Man Utd job.....delusions of grandeur in the extreme!!

  • Comment number 92.

    @88 - Indeed but it's ridiculous! He's a good manager and will get another job somewhere! If not there's always JSA :)

  • Comment number 93.

    Being a Spurs fan I can kinda see both sides of the story, when Harry joined us we were in a desperate state and welcomed his arrival, however living on the south coast, many of my friends are Pompey supporters who still in jest bring up the Judas comment.

    I’m sure I’ll be upset when Harry eventually leaves the Lane for wherever but I will remember him for getting our team out of the “pit” and back into Europe, so for that I can’t really have any complaints as long as our next manager is at least as good as ‘Arry!

    As for Fulham, I’ve always liked them as much as you can supporting someone else and feel that the lure of the Europe will ultimately lead to them getting a manager of some pedigree, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finishing in the top quarter of the League next season but with a stuttering European campaign.

    However with regards to Sparky, whilst I can fully understand his decision to leave, I can’t help but think that other clubs may have some hesitancy to employee his services with his CV of one sacking and the rest his own decision, whist having nothing to show for it. After all football aside, would a company employ someone who’s been around a bit but has nothing to show for it?

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 94.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 95.

    77 - DJ

    Maurinho was able to win so much because of the Money he had and the stature of clubs he took charge of
    what you wanted to do Hughes at Blackburn? Win champions League with them? with no money?
    And do you suppose that he would stay there forever and grind out top 10 fin for rest of his life, because clearly there were no money to improve upon?

    Someone mentioned in the blog earlier... its like getting a better job with high package and also challanging Job. If he or anyone gets a better job should move on. World does not move on sentiments dear.

  • Comment number 96.

    I don't object to Hughes leaving us for a 'bigger club' but I do object to being lied to like a six year old. The way in which he claimed that that there had been 'no contact with any third parties' is frankly pathetic and insulting.

  • Comment number 97.


    dont forget we were 3 weeks before the season started no manager in place

    Just perhaps we were in not position to refuse this offer ! and had to agree just so that we could set ourself for the season ahead

    looks like the battle starts all over again , we are clearly a stepping stone club for Managers , Will Martin Jol , Martin Oneil be any differant than Hughes , On the other hand they are experienced an will attract a better class of player ,

    or do we take the gamble on Clarky , personally i will knock on WBA'S door and ask the question

  • Comment number 98.

    @96 has there been? bit of an assumption there!

  • Comment number 99.

    Hughes Premier League Managerial record to date starting 2004/5:
    15th, 6th, 10th, 7th, 10th, 6th (at time of MCFC sacking), 8th. No trophies.

    Why would any of the really big clubs anywhere in Europe or a club targeting Champions League qualification covet a Manager with those statistics?

  • Comment number 100.


    Hughes Premier League Managerial record to date starting 2004/5:
    15th, 6th, 10th, 7th, 10th, 6th (at time of MCFC sacking), 8th. No trophies.

    Why would any of the really big clubs anywhere in Europe or a club targeting Champions League qualification covet a Manager with those statistics?

    Kinda what I was trying to say in my last paragraph but didn't have the stats!

    Good call.


Page 1 of 4

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.