It’s a real shame what those chumps at the top of Manchester City did to Mark Hughes. A real shame.
For a while it seemed like the owners of the club had enough brains to give Hughes at least the season to prove his worth, but I think it’s painfully obvious now they were just waiting for an excuse to replace him with a fancy continental manager.
A sixth-placed finish, they said, was the target and apparently after the defeat to Tottenham last week, City’s owners felt it was no longer attainable. Guess where City are sitting right now in the Premier League table? SIXTH. So either they have a problem associating numbers with league positions (they were pretty frivolous in the summer when throwing their millions around) or they were simply waiting for a run of results bad enough that they could sack Hughes, never mind that even Chelsea and United are having bad runs this season.
Another target was to get 70 points by the end of the season, and though they only have 29 now, the season isn’t even halfway through, and Hughes has had to play without his best player in Robinho. Can you imagine the amount of draws Robinho would have turned into wins for Hughes? Roque Santa Cruz too would undoubtedly have had a say in those games if he were fit.
Still, the best statistic in Hughes’ favour is his loss record – his team have only lost TWICE this season, the best record in the league! And one of those losses was the 4-3 thriller against United, which even this United fan would admit was somewhat harsh.
Common sense would dictate that with so many new players coming in, the team would need some time to gel on the field. To have the fewest number of defeats in the EPL, sitting in sixth place with a game in hand, and with an enviable record against Big Four teams (beating Chelsea and Arsenal, and drawing with Liverpool at Anfield – though even beating Liverpool these days doesn’t say much) during a period of major transition is to me, an incredible feat.
And the funny thing is, having drawn enough to fill-up the ceiling of the sistine chapel, Hughes’ City team have actually shown more consistency than any of their rivals! It’s been a wickedly unpredictable season where even mighty Chelsea have lost three times before January, but City have continued to avoid defeat.
Ianyway, Hughes would probably have the last laugh, as the only way Roberto Mancini can win an EPL title would be if it was handed to him after a match-fixing scandal rules out the other top two teams, or City somehow lure Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Steven Gerrard and John Terry with their billions.
Mancini was a top class player, but his managerial class is still yet to be confirmed. The owners at City must have been blinded by his glittery CV of Serie A titles with Inter Milan, not knowing that the first was given to them after Juventus were stripped of it following the Calciopoli scandal; while the following two were won under circumstances akin to Liverpool winning the title while Chelsea and Man United were missing from the EPL.
He had shown promise as a manager at smaller clubs, no offence, like Fiorentina and Lazio, but at Inter, even for all his success, he could not get along well with his rich owner Massimo Moratti and that led to him being replaced by a more attractive prospect in Jose Mourinho.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like Hughes’ story so far?
So don’t be surprised if Roberto Mancini gets the boot too, when City’s owners finally realise that they’re merely getting the Italian version of Mark Hughes.
Mancini’s new charges are already resentful at the disgraceful way in which Hughes was dismissed, and that for me, marks Roberto Mancini as the next dead man walking.