On Saturday the patience of the Abu Dhabi owners of Manchester City ran out and Mark Hughes was sacked 75 minutes after the game, despite winning against Sunderland. In attendance of that game was Roberto Mancini, who was immediately named his replacement.
Most people don’t believe that Hughes was given enough time to turn City around. Former City manager Kevin Keegan was upset by Hughes’ sacking, saying “He wasn't appointed by these people (the owners) and that's the big problem, they want their own man in. When you read the statement (which announced Hughes's sacking), it's not that of a real football club, it's that of a business. Although it's very cold and clinical and business-like, for me, it's not enough time for this man to even stamp any sort of authority on this club."
I totally agree.
Manchester City, despite all their riches, are still a club in transition. Hughes inherited some players that he didn’t particularly want, remember the ofter disinterested Robinho was thrust upon him when the owners took over, and there were suggestions last season that there were players in the dressing room that were deliberately undermining him. Hughes’ critics say he was given the money to take City to a minimum of 4th place this season and spent big on the likes of Jo, Santa Cruz, Toure and Lescott, all of whom have underperformed but all of those players, Jo excepted, have been some of the best players in the Premier League over the last few seasons and would have suceeded given time.
In order for City to make the progression that the owners wanted, Hughes had to make wholesale changes to his squad. You can’t make that many changes and hope to see instant success. The players need to build an understanding of how each other plays and how to fit into the managers tactics to become an effective team and that takes time. Hughes also bought players with Premier League experience, which would have lessened the transition time that his team would have needed.
City have only lost twice in the league all season and one of those losses was in additional injury time against Man United, but had gone on a bad run of form, drawing 8 successive games and only winning 2 of the last 11, showing some alarming lapses indefence ion the process. However, City are in the Semi-Finals of the Carling Cup and one of those 2 league wins was against league leaders Chelsea.
Hughes and his coaching staff had recently begun to feel that Garry Cook, the club's chief executive, and Brian Marwood, the football administrator, wanted them dismissed. Indeed after the dismissal a group of players led by Shay Given, went into the boardroom to air to protest to Cook. However, City sources insisted that Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the appointed chairman of the club's owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was responsible for the decision.
"A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set," he said. "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."
If 6th place in the league, well poised for a run at a Champions League spot wasn’t hitting one of the owners targets then that would suggest that the owners expected success instantly, which is just not realistic. Maybe if by the end of the season City were underperforming then it would be time to look at firing Hughes.
Hughes has been given a boatload of money to spend and I don’t understand why the owners gave him so much money to spend without allowing him at least the rest of this season to see his signings settle in and his vision for the team come to fruition.
Mancini is a curious appointment. He had considerable success with Inter Milan but probably wasn’t the name City fans were looking for with rumours of Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho.
One possible theory into why the owners pulled the trigger on Hughes was that they were worried that Hughes wasnot the big-name manager to attract the world’s best players. The failed pursuit of Kaka in January sowed the seeds of doubt in their minds.
Some rumours are saying that Mancini was actually given the job at the start of this mointh but his appointment was deliberately delayed until City hit an easier run of fixtures so hwe could hit the ground running.
Mark Hughes did a magnificent job as manager of Wales and Blackburn Rovers. We’ll never know of he could have repeated that success at City. He’ll have no trouble getting another management job.
Roberto Mancini will be given he same funds as Mark Hughes and will be under the same pressures, maybe even more so. If City do not make the top 4 this season and are in a similar position this time next year, he may well be replaced himself because the owners are not prepared to wait to build success.