City will win their maiden Premier League crown if they can beat Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United fail to win at Sunderland by a landslide margin at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
Hughes spent 18 months at City before the 48-year-old was replaced by the former Internazionale boss, and despite the frosty relationship between the pair, the QPR manager admits Mancini has done a remarkable job in getting his side’s title bid back on track.
“At one point City lost the title and it went away from them,” said Hughes.
“Obviously everyone assumed United were going to canter away with it and pick up their 20th title.
“But City have kept going and waited for their opportunity and grabbed it.
“That’s great testament to the players and the management because having been ahead for so long and losing it, they could have very easily capitulated.
“But they didn’t and that comes from the manager.”
Hughes was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side which narrowly missed out on the league title in 1992, with Leeds United preventing the Red Devils from winning their first top-flight crown since 1967.
But the Old Trafford outfit bounced back from their initial disappointment to win the inaugural Premier League title, and Ferguson’s side have gone on to claim England’s top prize a further 11 times.
Hughes hopes QPR can cause an upset at Eastlands and deny City first place – but the former United striker believes Mancini’s side will still be one of the favourites to win the title next season even if the Londoners claim a major scalp on Sunday.
“They must react in the right way after a huge disappointment [should City miss out on the title] as obviously we had to when we lost to Leeds United and then actually came back stronger,” added Hughes.
“If they do lose it this time, you’d have to say that they’ll try and address any weaknesses that they have and come back stronger next year.
“Everyone accepts that they’re going to be around at the top for a long, long time.”
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