Thursday, September 04, 2008

Money won't buy patience for Mark Hughes at City - could he eventually replace Fergie?

Sections of the media are suggesting that Mark Hughes has already been undermined by recent events at Manchester City concerning transfers and that was before the ABU Dhabi United Group arrived on the scene. The story goes that City tried to offload Corluka and Ireland behind the former Blackburn manager's back.

Hughes quickly regained control of the situation following meetings with the club's senior management team. However, Corluka was subsequently sold on this week, which was quite a turnaround given that we have been led to believe that the Welshman didn't want to lose the Croatian defender. The suspicion is that Hughes wasn't in control of transfers; clearly he wasn't fully aware of what was going on behind the scenes.

Football has changed over the last few years with "directors of football" being brought in to oversee transfers at several Premier League clubs, but rather than help it has caused conflict at Newcastle and West Ham. How long will it be before Kevin Keegan joins Alan Curbishley in the ranks of the unemployed managers? It's being reported that Denis Wise, former Chelsea star and director of football at Newcastle is at the heart of Keegan's gripes with the Magpies.

So it comes are no surprise to learn that sections of the media are already claiming that Hughes is manager of City in name alone. The front man of the ABU Dhabi group Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim has wasted no time in making bold statements about who HE wants to see playing for City, if Hughes thought it bad before the events of this week, clearly it is going to get a whole lot more complicated, with Al-Fahim talking like the club's de facto manager about his plans for new players.

Hughes is in a no win situation, if he argues his corner on transfers, the chances are the Arabs will do exactly what Newcastle United, West Ham and Tottenham have done, that is they will bring in people above the manager. When that happens, as we have already seen, it rarely works and it can quickly end in tears.

City may well be the richest club in the world, but if they are going to be successful they will need stability on and off the pitch. A classic example of how not to do it is Real Madrid, they dismissed Vincente del Bosque who was one of the club's most successful manager's in recent times, but a succession of replacements failed and no amount of stars could put things right on the pitch.

Having spoken to City fans, they believe that Hughes will be given no longer than 12 months to make a big impact. If he fails, as I think he will, he will be in prime position to take the United job where hopefully he will carry on the great work done by Ferguson.

Taking the City job is an important part of Mark Hughes managerial apprenticeship, he is about to learn some tough lessons, but they will serve him well when the United position comes up.

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