22/12/2009

Mixed emotions about Hughes leaving

The decision to axe Mark Hughes seems to have split supporters. He'd long had his critics, mainly sensationalist plums, but even those who have supported him must admit to our lingering doubts. I have to say that i don't think he was given long enough, not since the heavy backing in the summer anyhow. The performances have been dire for a while, though, and the decision to make a change perhaps proves that the ambitions of the board were different from those stated pre-season.

In my opinion our current position is almost acceptable, but the football really hasn't been. Sixth place and four points off the top four with a game in hand wouldn't have had me reaching for the panic button, but it's fair to say that we've gone backwards this season and few are performing to levels they ought to in order to justify their pricetags.

It's hard to bear any ill will towards the board, they're bankrolling the club to a degree we'd have never thought possible, and they've been quite honourable in standing by Hughes when most people had him as a dead man walking from the day of the takeover. They've backed him heavily in the transfer market and can quite rightly expect us to be playing better than we are currently, but i'm a touch disappointed by the nature and timing of the managerial change.

Most annoying was the fact that Hughes was threw aside in such a charmless fashion a week before Christmas. It's a cut-throat business, sure, and everyone who earns very handsome salaries within the game in whatever role knows that. Managers shit on clubs and in turn they are done over, but we could have conducted ourselves a hell of a lot better than we did, and given his hard work i really think he deserved more.

We have to be honest and admit that Hughes was never going to be the man for the job. In the eyes of some his links with our fiercest rivals were always a stumbling block. I think those opinions are pretty small-minded, but over the last six months of his reign i think Mark did a great job in making himself one of us, and his 'building from the bottom' methods were the right way to go about things.

What he lacked was tactical acumen, and although that's an easy slant levelled at most managers who don't win for a few games, i don't think Hughes brought much to the table in regards to making the side play. We defended like mugs for most of his eighteen months, and even at home have become far too heavily reliant on the counter attack. This season we've seen our best player suffocated in a side of new boys. It wasn't working.

For many hardened Blues goings-on away from the first team also proved a subject of concern. We all accept that an Academy is there to help the seniors, and that given our new-found wealth we'd be less reliant on it than before, but 'fixing' something that absolutely wasn't broke, whether you believe the rumours of Jim Cassell being forced out or not, left a sour taste in the mouths of many.

For me, i'm not disappointed in the fact that Hughes had to go at some point, we all knew he wasn't the man to lead us to where we ultimately wanted to be, but besides Saturday's unfolding drama, as discussed above, it's just a stupid decision that should have either been made last summer or next. You don't give a manager you're not sure about over £100m, likewise you don't judge one an imbecile at the first sign of wobbles.

I honestly think we've come out of this looking like real fuckwits, and the events have completely overshadowed the most important thing from now on, the arrival of the new manager, Roberto Mancini. It's a huge coup for the club, as much as the press try and pretend it isn't. This is a guy who has managed an elite club to repeated silverware. We should be embracing his appointment, but the dismissal of the man he replaced have made it something of a sideshow.

What must be said, and it's a point a couple of fellow bloggers have touched on already, is the press reaction since Saturday has been way over the top. The unease at the timing and nature of the decision is fair enough, in my opinion, as are the opinions on Garry Cook, who i do like but who tends to not do himself any favours. What is below the belt are those having digs at the new owners, and more so the new chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Since day one Khaldoon has gone out of his way to be the perfect chairman. He's kept quiet where most don't, given only selected interviews to trusted sources, backed the manager 100%, and instructed his staff to do the very best they can for us supporters. One decision and the press are throwing stuff around like wildfire, branding the owners reactionary, clueless, cowardly and inept, which couldn't be further from the truth.

As a fan of the club i'll support whoever is in charge and out on the pitch. I don't agree that Mark Hughes should have been sacked but it's happened, and the new man has my 100% unwavering support. The board have taken a decision they feel is in the best interests of the club and i'll trust their judgement. My only wish, and it's not a criticism of the owners, more Cook and Marwood; when tough decisions must be made, let's go about things in the correct manner, we are, as they put it, a 'multi-million pound business' after all.

7 comments:

  1. Had to go before the transfer window

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  2. A good summation of the situation. Hughes wasn't the owners choice and had 18 months longer than most thought he'd get.

    The media response is the usual rubbish we now expect - they are the ones who have had him sacked once a fortnight for the last 18 months and now they have their story they are milking it.

    In all honestly I don't know too much about Mancini the coach. He is surely well connect in the game though and will offer something different at a time the team is playing poorly.

    Hughes came and went. That's football and I personally have already moved on.

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  3. You're disappointed. I'm relieved. My patience with him ran out when he brought on a defensive midfielder with ten minutes to go, against a Hamburg side that was there for the taking. I've heard this reason and that reason put forward for why they finally sacked him. For me it was staring us in the face - he never learnt from his mistakes. And while I bear him no ill will, I don't believe he's ever going to.

    As for the timing - it was the last possible moment for someone to come in, assess what was wrong, have a chance to buy a couple of players in the January window, and maybe turn the season round. Any later, it would have been totally unfair on the new manager (and he's the one who needs the backing now the decision's been made), and wouldn't have done Mark Hughes any favours either - how would he have felt if they'd refused any further funds in January?

    If the reports are to be believed, Mancini's one of the very few attack-minded managers in Italy, which should qualify him to get our attack working together with our midfield, and to sort out our bloody defense!

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  4. Well said.

    My worry is that this is a signal that the careful, "bottom up" approach to building is being pushed aside and instead the club will once again go chasing the big names in the transfer market (i.e. the Kaka mess) rather than going after the meat and potato types that are really needed.

    Inter always knew how to defend under Mancini. Hopefully City can learn. There is already more than enough glamour players wearing sky blue, we need to attract some grit.

    I wish Sparky well. He showed me more than enough to rub that red right off him...

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  5. Ollie Withington23 December 2009 03:30

    Very good points mate. I feel the same way. Mark Hughes won me over as a professional and a class act. I had some issue with tactics in games but that's what it's all about. There was always a bunch who were loud and obnoxious who were never going to take to him.
    That is history now. Let's all get behind Mr. Mancini, after all....we are CITY!

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  6. I have to say this is one of the more thoughtful and objective pieces I've read anywhere. While we do need to come to terms with what has transpired and get back to football itself that doesn't mean we should sweep the more unsavory aspects under the rug and pretend they never happened or that we've done nothing wrong. Its important we ask tough questions of ourselves and some of the executives to insure that these kind of things don't happen again. I think you've been very thorough with your assessment of what transpired. As the excellent ESPN City correspondent Wallace Poulter summarized it, "right decision, wrong time, wrong manner."

    I don't think its an unfair criticism of the owners that they need to ask some really difficult questions of some of their executives. The decision to allow Garry Cook anywhere near the press conference unveiling Mancini was a serious lapse in judgment. Given what transpired on Saturday anyone with the slightest hint of common sense could see that the media smelled not only blood but a conspiracy. Cook's presence was the equivalent of pouring gasoline on the fire and one would think a multi-million pound business would be media savvy enough to know better. I unfortunately do not share your opinion of Cook and I think he has become not only a liability to himself but the club as well. It may sound harsh but Cook should be offered a handsome severance package and then be asked to quietly tender his resignation. Someone needs to step up and take responsibility and given what has transpired Cook has no one to blame but himself.

    in the meantime, I like yourself will give Mancini and the squad 100% support. As for our executives the watchwords will be cautious but optimistic. Forza Mancini, Forza City!

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  7. Another well written, balanced article.

    Your views on Mark Hughes and the timing/handing are spot on.

    As a few have pointed out, we've a lot to thank him for...and the way he went about trying to address the job and handled himself as City manager are just two. Craig Bellamy is a third...and I really hope he takes the emotion out of any thoughts he has on following MH out of the door, as he's been a revelation for us.

    Have to say the one point we do differ on is the view on Garry Cook. I lean towards PJ Demers on this. We've had our share of embarrassing club figures but this guy really is doing his best to top the lot..and shred any last vestage of class we might have.

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