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.