Tomorrow there will be a press conference to officially announce Mark Hughes as the new manager of Fulham. Hughes is the former manager of Manchester City. He was sacked by Manchester City on December 19,2009. He was replaced by current Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini.
I wanted to find out more about Hughes and his time as manager at Eastlands. So I asked someone that covers Manchester City on a regular basis to help me. Danny Pugsley of Bitter & Blue was nice enough to answer my questions regarding Mark Hughes.
Danny is writer and editor of Bitter & Blue. This is a website for fans of Manchester City. If you are fan of this club this is the place for you. Danny has also contributed to many websites and other publications including The Observer, Yorkshire Evening Post, the BBC,and more. He also was a contributor to the World Cup coverage on Sbnation.com.
Danny definitely is the right person to shed some light on the Mark Hughes era at Manchester City. I asked him a variety of questions regarding the former Manchester City manager. Below is my Q & A with Danny Pugsley of Bitter & Blue.
Q: What were the thoughts when Mark Hughes was hired as Manchester City manager?
Feelings were very mixed. Some felt that his record in charge of Wales and Blackburn made him a good choice and that stepping up to a bigger job was a natural progression for a promising, young manager. Others, however, felt that his ties with United were not favourable and that he was a manager of limited means who had merely done well in helping average sides overachieve.
History will probably show him as being somewhere in the middle.
Q: What were his strengths as a manager while in charge at Eastlands?
Undoubtedly the fact that he rid the club of a laissez fair attitude and an 'anything goes' mentality that appeared to have been fostered under Sven-Goran Eriksson (ironic he was reportedly Hughes's main rival). He set in place a far greater work ethic and team ethos. This did of course alienate certain players (generally the more creative, mercurial elements) and I wonder if this is something he may struggle with at Fulham.
Amongst the big sums he did spend, he also picked up the likes of Zabaleta and Kompany for relatively small sums - I'd expect this scouting ability to be a benefit.
Q: What were his weaknesses as a manager?
His single-mindedness meant that the likes of Elano or Robinho felt marginalised and that there was no room for negotiation with Hughes. There were reports of him not being a great 'man-manager' and I can certainly see this being the case.
Maybe he will have learnt from this and not be as forthright as he has been at times.
Q: What style of play did Manchester City play under Mark Hughes?
We certainly didn't see the uncompromising style of his Blackburn side yet it wasn't free flowing exhibition stuff either. He favours the 4-4-2, but with the injury to Tevez and suspension to Adebayor he didn't manage to get them on the field together too often at the start of last season, so for the most part operated with the 4-5-1 (with Bellamy and Wright-Phillips supplementing the lone front man).
The side was certainly tough to beat last season before his sacking, yet there were undoubtedly games where the side lacked concentration and it cost them (and Hughes) dear.
He has enough 'footballers' at Fulham though to encourage them to play and I wouldn't be concerned that we are about to see Blackburn mk II.
Q: Did Manchester City fans think his sacking was justified?
In terms of the decision, even those who were in the pro-Hughes camp understood the justification, yet the manner of the sacking left a sour taste as Hughes was effectively a lame duck manager for his final game as the club allowed rumour to spread that he was facing the sack.
The club I think felt that 4th spot was very much attainable (due to Liverpool's slump) which it did not expect at the outset of the season, and the way some results had gone, believed Hughes would not be able to attain 4th. Of course, Mancini was also unable to achieve this but the unanimous feeling is it was the right move.
Q: What should Fulham fans expect with Mark Hughes as their manager?
He is a very ambitious manager, someone very sure of his ability and knows what he wants to achieve. I'm sure he felt he would be able to land a 'bigger' job after his sacking, but this could well be a good fit for him as it is not a rebuilding project but something with a lot of pieces in place.
His expectation would be to have them challenging for the European positions.
Q: Do you think he is right manager for Fulham?
Without knowing who the alternatives were I would say yes. He is able to get results and who knows, he may have . Fulham appear to have a great spirit and mentality generated over the past couple of seasons, and if he is sensible he will not try and change that too much.
Q: Are you concerned that Hughes will try to go after some Manchester City players?
No, although logic suggests he will. Bellamy and Santa Cruz would be the most likely given their history, but most City fans wouldn't be too displeased to see either leave, as despite Bellamy's excellent form he has perhaps peaked and there are players to replace him, whilst Santa Cruz has been a bust.
I would be interested to see if he went for the likes of Ireland/Richards/Onouha - all would be a good fit and in range of Fulham's budget.
Q: Will Manchester City fans be looking forward to playing Fulham this season?
Fulham is always a great ground to visit - nice stadium, decent part of London and it will of course have some spice added to it now. I am interested in the reaction Hughes will get from City fans. He was probably the most divisive managerial figure there has been in recent times and I wonder how this will translate to the terraces in the two fixtures.
I want to thank again Danny Pugsley of Bitter & Blue for participating in this post about Mark Hughes. Please check out his site if you are interested in more information about Manchester City.