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Stewart Coggin

City too Hasty

By December 20, 2009

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Mark Hughes had made mistakes, of that there is no doubt. But I felt to sack the Welshman just 18 months into his tenure was hasty.

Manchester City's owners had begun to get twitchy over the past few weeks, with the club's 1-1 home draw with Hull City on November 28 setting alarm bells ringing. Despite being just six points off the Champions League places in sixth position, a run of draws and last Wednesday's comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Tottenham proved unacceptable to the owners.

It was decided before City's 4-3 win over Sunderland on Saturday that Hughes would be sacked, and it was revealed before the match had finished that there would be a club announcement. Hughes deserved far better than that, and such conduct was not befitting of a club with aspirations of dominating Europe within a few years.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, said a few months ago that City's behaviour over Carlos Tevez (a city-centre billboard appeared after the club signed the former United player, saying "Carlos Tevez, welcome to Manchester" under a sky-blue graphic) was the result of a small club mentality and similar accusations could be levelled here.

A few years ago Tottenham decided to sack Martin Jol before a European match against Getafe and many in the game knew he was a dead man walking as he sat in the dugout. This was a something of a repeat scenario from the moment news of a club announcement came through.

The Welshman had spent millions in the transfer market, with the likes of Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott and Emmanuel Adebayor underperforming despite hefty transfer fees. Hughes seemed unable to get his defence working as a cohesive unit. Meanwhile, the club's star signing of 2008, Robinho, was clearly not being motivated by Hughes, but one may attribute that more to the player's attitude than poor management.

So his record was far from perfect, but did the owners seriously expect him to knit a team together with so many new ingredients in the space of four months? Obviously so.

But he had a long-term plan and I suggest that two defeats from the opening 17 matches is a good record (the fewest defeats in the Premier League). The owners set him the target of a sixth place finish and that was the position the club was in when he lost his job. They had proven difficult to beat and one sensed that the more the new players became familiar with eachother, the better the team would get.

Now former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini has been given the keys to the castle and it will be fascinating to see whether he can fulfil the owners' desires.

Photo Getty Images


December 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm
(1) Mike Doban says:

It may seem harsh, Stewart, but this is big boy football. Man U, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter, Juve etc. are all playing for the highest of stakes. World wide club marketing value alone has re-written the sport. This is the head dizzying world of professional sports today. I love the fact that the club managers maintain their personal class and dignity as they are ferried in and out of positions (the “Special One” excluded) while the club owners act and react like spoilt children. Still, it’s great fun to watch the dance, and I’m waiting for the Juventus and Liverpool anouncements to begin the new year. Happy holidays to all.

December 21, 2009 at 5:15 pm
(2) Stewart Coggin says:

Hi Mike. Yes, these people don’t mess around but if they repeatedly allow managers to spend millions in the summer and then sack them when it is not going exactly to plan (even though they were 6th, which was apparently the requirement), they won’t get anywhere. The sacking wasn’t surprising, but just a little premature I felt. Having said that, if they thought he wasn’t the right man, I guess it is wise not to let him spend millions again in January and then sack him.

You’re right on Ferrara. You can’t lose to the likes of Bari, Cagliari and Catania and expect not to have some searching questions asked of you. As for Benitez, I’m not sure they have the money to pay him off so he may be hanging around a bit longer! Have a good Christmas.

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