Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hughes sacking

The official statement from the club which confirmed Saturday's worst kept secret:

“Prior to the current season beginning, with significant investment in players and infrastructure in place, the consensus between the Board and coaching staff was that appropriate agreed targets should be set for the 2009/2010 season.

“The targets were agreed as a result of the player acquisition strategy of the club being radically accelerated in the summer as a result of very favourable conditions for any buying club. It was also based on the fact that the infrastructure of the club had been overhauled completely at great cost in order to create the best possible environment for the team.

“A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set. Sheikh Mansour and the Board felt that there was no evidence that the situation would fundamentally change. This is a particularly difficult announcement given the personal investment over the past 15 months on all sides and we would like to put on record our respect for and thanks to Mark Hughes and we wish him the best in his future career.”

Whatever your opinion of Mark Hughes and whether he was the right man for the job - and I would put myself firmly in the pro-Hughes camp - it cannot be argued that there was no justification for his sacking given the frustrations of the past couple of months. It is a huge surprise though given that Hughes was backed when steering the club through the growing pains of last season and then handed such sums in the summer.

However, the two key issues central to this are the timing and manner of the decision to sack him. As Jack over at TLDORC pointed out, the decision was not made in order to secure the services of Mourinho or Hiddinck - Mancini has been out of work for sometime and no clubs seemingly on the horizon for him.

Much has been made of the target of sixth place that Hughes was set at the outset of the season (something Hughes was at pains to state he was on course to achieve), but this was when a Champions League position was thought too much of a leap for 2009/10. Given Liverpool's poor start to the season, this is no longer the case. There is a very real opportunity for the club to achieve fourth position this season, and whilst the victory over Sunderland puts us back in touch with the top four, my thoughts are that the club are going all-out to achieve Champions League qualification this season - and this for me is why the decision has been made to sack Hughes.

What they have likely assessed is that although the season so far has been satisfactory, it hasn't been good enough given the chance to take fourth place. Far too many opportunities have been missed over the eleven games that the club statement references, opportunities that could cost us fourth spot. They clearly felt that Mancini is someone who can come in and achieve this.

Whilst I don't agree with the decision - and it goes against the owners previous rhetoric of long term planning being a decision with the short term very much in mind - it has been made and I can see why it has been made.

What many have found distasteful though is the way in which the club went about it. Mancini has obviously been lined up prior to the sacking (with some reports suggesting as early as the beginning of December), and whilst that is not uncommon in football when changing managers, the fact that the club have been accused of leaking the news to the press on the morning of the Sunderland game does not sit well and reflects badly. This then led to the situation where the speculation snowballed throughout the day.

Regardless of the merits of sacking him, he deserved better than the ending he received.

vote it up!


Unknown said...

Hughes was tactically inept. He has been used to mangaging blacburn and wales, no flair players but hoofing the ball up route one to the strikers and relying on a decent defence. We have loads of flair players and a crap defence, yet he still played in the same way. i'm pleased he has been sacked and find it difficult to shed a tear for him as he will pick up 4,5 million for the last 18 months of his contract. However, Mancini was the WRONG choice - a shoot from the hip reaction by our owners. Mournho would have been a much better choice.

thomas said...

mancini was very succesful, he took over a side who were 11th in seria and won the league and domestic cups, his only failing was champions cup, which mourinho hasnt won. He's a young man! would you turn your nose up at guardiola? And he hasnt been out of work for his own enjoyment, He's been under a contractual dispute with inter, so they still owned his contract!

Bryan Kidd is a man of real ability as a number 2! Plus ivan caminarti is one of the best coaches going!

Hughes failed to rectify any of the problems that troubled up for 18 months. Rhetoric from hughes about being the 'best coaches' wasnt backed up by the teams condition of shape. The defence was a disgrace!

Marwood and cook did their job, they got the nod to sack hughes and found a suitable replacement in good time, so we weren't left in limbo! The owners were always going to replace hughes for a better candidate!

Unknown said...

Thomas - is mancini really a better candidate? with all the financial power available, seems to me that employing a long out-of-work manager is change for change sake - we could have got anyone we wanted.

Anonymous said...

As a long standing Man City fan I was pleased when Mark Hughes got the job, but his signings have been bad for the club. Instead of signing strong players to challenge Robinho and bring on Ireland and the other youngsters he paid lots of money for weak also-rans. We got Bridge, Barry and Bellamy instead of Beckham or Ballack.

Mancini would do well to clear the decks in January and start again.

"Blue from the age of 8" thats forty years and counting.

siuma gent said...

good blog

Frank P said...

Should never have got rid of him.

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