The Mark Hughes Dilemma

With no Premier League game this week due to the international break, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write a one-off article on the managerial prospects of Mark Hughes. The blog will primarily contain my opinion on Sparky and focus on the impact he has already had at the club, as well as describing what he can do in the future. Since this is only my opinion, any other views are extremely welcome, so feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

Hughes moved from Blackburn to City in the summer

Following the sacking of current Mexico manager Sven Goran Erikkson by former owner, and now exiled Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Mark Hughes, real name Leslie, was appointed Blues boss on 4th June 2008. His arrival was greeted with a plethora of views, and the City faithful seemed completely divided in their opinions. There were those who said that someone who had played for bitter enemies Manchester United should never be put in charge of City, whilst others declared that he was a fantastic coup, having achieved miracles with former club, Blackburn Rovers. Although I was in the latter group, I was still sceptical of his appointment and only time would tell if he was the correct choice.

Despite a promising first season, Sven was sacked

Within hours of his coming, Hughes declared that he wanted a radical overhaul of the staff at the club, stating that he wanted the best men for each job, thus bringing with him his trusted allies Mark Bowen, Kevin Hitchcock, and the man with a wonderful Scrabble name, Eddie Niedzwiecki. Immediately, Hughes set out to put his stamp on the side, and according to Irish midfielder Stephen Ireland, on the first day of training in pre-season, Hughes told the squad, ‘You may not like my methods, but I can guarantee you I will make you a better player.’ These thoughts seem to echo the belief of many, that whilst Hughes may not be a naturally amiable chap, he will bring the best out of players, a point clearly emphasised by the remarkable metamorphosis in Ireland, who has gone in half a season from outcast to key player.

Ireland has benefited from working with Hughes

Unless you have been living on a different planet for the past few months, you will know that City were taken over by members of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, thus meaning that City are now the richest club in the world. Withthis unforgiving title however, there come additional pressures, such as winning trophies. Withthe majority of modern-day owners willing to sack the manager immmediately if anything goes wrong, many fans felt Hughes was walking a managerial tight-rope, with the possibility of falling off at any time. However, fortunately for the fans, and for Hughes in particular, the owners have showed patience when results haven’t been great, by allowing Hughes to continue in his job without any interference. Long may this continue, and if it does, then surely the 33 year wait for a trophy will end soon.

Sheikh Mansour needs to support Hughes

The Blues could certainly learn a lesson or two from other clubs in the Premier League, most notably Man United, on how to deal with managers. With an all too common propensity for managers to be sacked without being given the chance to prove themselves, ala Paul Ince at Blackburn, any poor result would be pounced upon by the media, who hoped for yet another casualty. However, in City’s case, the owners have been as good as their word so far, and have refused any notion that Hughes may be sacked. A quick look at the top of the Premier League table would tell you everything you need to know about the necessity of stability at a club. Manchester United, for instance, are top of the table and have been there or thereabouts for well over a decade, ably managed by Sir Alex Ferguson. It is reported that the Scot was one game away from the sack when Mark Robins popped up with a last-minute goal to save the manager’s bacon. The rest, as they say, is history, with Ferguson remaining in charge and guiding United to countless trophies. Moving just one place down the ladder, we arrive at Liverpool. With their eccentric manager Rafael Benítez now one of the longest serving bosses in the Premier League, it again goes to show what patience can achieve. Numerous other teams follow this example, with Aston Villa, Everton and Arsenal being prime examples. Hopefully, chairman Khaldoon-Al-Mubarak can take heed of this and back Hughes, but only time will tell.

It pains me to say it, but United are an example to follow

One area where managers are heavily judged are their purchases, and in Hughes’s case, it’s a thumbs-up so far. I apologise now for the concatenation of players, but it’s important to overview Sparky’s signings and how they have adapted to life at City. Shay Given, Wayne Bridge, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy were bought in January to complement the summer signings of Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Glauber Berti, Tal Ben-Haim, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jo and Robinho. The vast majority of these purchases have been overwhelming successes, with the likes of Kompany, SWP and Zabaleta playing prominent roles this season. There has been the odd exception, with Berti and Ben-Haim both now deemed surplus to requirements. I don’t think there is anyone out there who can claim that Robinho was bought by Hughes, rather that he was the star name craved by the owners. Overall, this has been a good area for Hughes, and with more money to be spent in the summer, one can only hope that he continues to buy well.

Kompany has been one of City’s best players this season 

For me, Hughes is the right man to lead City forward in the future, having shown a good eye for signings and starting to assemble the players he wants. The owners need to give him their full backing, and if they do, then there is no reason why City can’t challenge for a Champions League place next season.

7 Responses to “The Mark Hughes Dilemma”

  1. Blue Moon Says:

    Personally, i think that he’s one of the, if not the, best manager in the premier league. A good signing if i ever saw one. He has brought in some great players, as you said, adding to the ever-growing list of great signings. (Roque Santa-Cruz next? he says hopefully). With any luck, if we don’t get anywhere this season, the peope with the deep pockets in the east will give him a chance, unlike Thaksin.

  2. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    Thanks Ricky,

    Don’t think he’s the best manager in the Prmier League, but he has the potential to become one of the best.

    Hope we don;t get Santa Cruz, as Bojinov looks the part, and we should be able to attract better than RSC.

  3. Ched Evans IS MY HERO :) Bellamy you’re not bad either ;) Says:

    Steven, i’m dissapointed you have put this up so quickly after I did mine to be honest.

    I completely disagree with Ricky, prehaps he was taking some controlled substance whilst writing that. Best in the Prem? Lets be honest…not by a long shot…

    - Ferguson
    - Wenger
    - Benitez
    - Moyes
    - O’Niell

    Nice article, I think you have hyped it up a bit too much and Santa Cruz is far better than Bojinov in my opinion? Why attract the likes of Messi when we can get a proven Premier League goalscorer such as Roque? I’m bound to be biased as I met him, but it’s just logic?

  4. I*T*P*L Says:

    Nice article Steven, I never knew his real name was Leslie. There’s something a bit strange about Ireland in that photo. Whenever I see him I half expect him to start glowing and return to his home planet. Your last sentence of the first paragraph doesn’t quite make sense, just a tweak needed. Once again however, I’d much prefer it if you’d just let this article be what it is, an article, rather than a selection of paragraphs under different headings. I think anyone reading this will be clever enough to figure out what each paragraph is about without the prompt from you.

    I’m quoting you from your first ever blog post here, ”I’m a big fan of Mark Hughes. He has all the attributes to be a truly world-class manager, and I feel he is capable, with all the money available to him, of turning us into a team that will challenge for the title in the next couple of years.”

    You seem to still feel this way, but it is the opposite of my view. I see Hughes as a solid manager to an average side into a reasonably good one, but never one that is going to win much, he’s just lacking that managerial ‘’spark” in my opinion. If you hope to challenge for titles, I can think of a good few managers who I feel would be better suited to the job than Hughes, without being out of your reach.

    As for the best managers in the league, I’d put Benitez, Hiddink, Ferguson, Wenger, Moyes, O’Neill, Redknapp and Bruce higher than Hughes. Let’s face it, with the players you’ve got Hughes has hardly excelled to get you into a mid-table position with an outside chance of Europa League qualification.

    Also, I feel you are being arrogant and hypocritical in your statement that you hope you don’t get Santa Cruz. He’s a proven top-class goalscorer in the Premier League who six weeks ago you were all very excited at the prospect of signing. Contrast to Bojinov who, despite a couple of good matches, is unproven and very injury prone. I know which I’d rather have. Santa Cruz is a player that any team should be happy to have in their squad (in your case as their main striker), and it’s not as if the money’s a problem for you, so why not sign him if you can?

    This is only my opinion, any other views are extremely welcome, so feel free to leave your comments at the bottom of the page.

  5. Ched Evans IS MY HERO :) Bellamy you’re not bad either ;) Says:

    I am in agreement with VJ

  6. Plattsy Says:

    I agree that Hughes should be given a chance, but I’m also very undecided as to his abilities at city as yet. When he was at blackburn I hated him, but respected that he did well with what he had. Now he has everything he could possibly need finance-wise, and his record is not all that impressive, winning roughly as many as he loses with city.
    Give him another season, but if things don’t radically improve i.e. we start looking like a decent team away from home, lets not be too stuffy about changing manager - almost everyone does it these days.

  7. Steven Goran Erikkson Says:

    Thanks for all the comments,

    I agree with you to an extent VJ, but although you doubt him, I feel we need to give him more time. He wants to get the players that he feels will improve the team ,and I’m for allowing him that opportunity.

    Santa Cruz is an interesting case. I would not be gutted if we got him, but I just feel there are better players out there.

    P.S: I would rank Hughes ahead of Bruce.

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