Blameless Hughes pays the price at Man City

By Online Editorial

mark hughes sacking manchester city

For a team that ended last season 22 points off a Champions League position, that Manchester City are now only six points short of fourth place — with almost half the season gone — must surely represent significant progression.

And with a Carling Cup semi-final against rivals Manchester United being all that stands between the club and their first cup final appearance since 1981, you’d be forgiven for thinking that things were looking rather rosy.

However, those now in control at Eastlands have absolutely no idea where the club was just a few years ago – to them, it existed only at the point that they began to inject their petro-dollars. Believing money was all that was needed to satisfy their fanciful dreams, there was always an air of inevitability about the dismissal of Mark Hughes.

But perversely, it is perhaps a sense of loyalty to a manager they did not appoint that has left the executives in this current situation. Hughes should never have started the season in charge and was always living on borrowed time. With no pedigree in dealing with big-name players he was allowed to lavish himself with a blank chequebook, outlaying the best part of £200m in the last 18 months.

Yet, the problem for the Welshman was that he was only able to attract the ‘best of the rest’ – those players unwanted by the traditional ‘big’ clubs of Europe. Hence, he was allowed to take Robinho from Real Madrid, Carlos Tevez from Manchester United and Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal.

With each possessing an ego to match their price tag, leaving a surfeit of selfish players in his squad, Hughes was facing a constant battle to build a team. But to an ‘investment group’ from Abu Dhabi, merely outspending your rivals should be all it takes to reverse decades of footballing history.

But with results now being deemed from above as, “clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set”, jobless Roberto Mancini has been chosen to steer the sky blue juggernaut forward.

As manager of Inter until 2008, Mancini’s record of three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies appears impressive. Yet, following the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, Inter were handed the first Scudetto by default and the subsequent punishment meted out to AC Milan and Juventus meant the Nerazzurri were effectively unchallenged for the next two seasons. Limited success in the Champions League, however, left Mancini frustrated and ultimately out of a job.

Other than a month spent on loan at Leicester City in 2001, the former Lazio and Sampdoria forward has no experience of the Premier League though his close friend Sven Goran Eriksson will no doubt be on hand to advise him on a job that was his own just two years ago.

Working under the overbearing Inter President Massimo Moratti will have set Mancini up nicely for the experience of being a ‘yes man’ for his superiors at City, though one has to wonder how many of Hughes’ misfits he will want to replace.

The revolving doors at Eastlands will undoubtedly be busy again throughout January but whoever makes the decisions over who comes and goes, there’s nothing to suggest the end result will be any different at the end of May.

The appointment of Mancini seems another ill thought out attempt at icing the cake before it’s baked. With typical sartorial elegance, the Italian cuts a fine figure on the sidelines but yet again it seems that the City ownership have opted for style over substance.

As a club in need of trophies, not trophy signatures, Manchester City’s present trend leaves them in danger of picking up Newcastle United’s former mantle as the Premier League’s court jesters.

And while their future trials and tribulations may provide entertainment for the masses, for the long-suffering City fans, the dazzle of the bling may not be enough to blind them forever.

Reproduced with permission from © The Sporting Exchange Limited


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