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.
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