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Fingers Crossed that Hughes Signs On

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22:  Mark Hughes, manager of Fulham before the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage on May 22, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 22: Mark Hughes, manager of Fulham before the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage on May 22, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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It seems strange that a young man with a playing record of such success, triumph and sensation can ply a twelve year trade in management and still not advertise a single trophy to defend his brazen credentials.

Throughout five years at the helm of the Welsh National team, four years at Blackburn Rovers and a short stint with the richest team in world football, Manchester City, Mark Hughes has failed to lift a single trophy; not a Carling Cup, not an F.A Cup and certainly not a Premier League title. 

His experience in the field of football management is narrow at best and the prosperities that the Welshman has enjoyed in those twelve years have been small and always insignificant compared to the dizzying heights that peers around him seem to achieve. 

Despite a tender age and a relative naivety, though, he's one of a conveyor belt of coaches that have attained knowledge from a fountain of pure wisdom that most would pay to the high heavens to gain.

Sir Alex Ferguson, like any astute manager of his day, had the subliminal talents to rub off on all around him, which is why the Premier League is becoming ever more laden with managers that have risen from the Ferguson talent pool; those who have learnt his ways and understood his methods. Steve Bruce, despite fluctuating loyalties, was fresh off of the production line a few years ago and it wasn't long before he was being hailed as England's possible next saviour.

Things haven't gone quite as well for Bruce of late, though, but in Mark Hughes there is a man who not only reflects the palpably resplendent talents of Sir Alex Ferguson, but manages to incorporate those attributes to a youthful, passionate and understanding personality. This makes for a coach that is aware of the depths in the beautiful game and he can expose his intelligence with an unrivalled ruthlessness.

This rather gratifying CV, however, didn't seem to quite cut the grade for Mohammed Al Fayed last Summer. Martin Jol was first choice after Roy Hodgson departed, with his fanciful style of play and eye for a superstar. The Dutchman, though, set about embarrassing Al Fayed and the club that he so passionately owns, and, after toying with the prospect for far too long, pulled out.

The rejection, supposedly, left Fulham with 'second best'. It was as though we had been forced into a corner and Mark Hughes, probably a little red faced and slightly bitter at the time, was offered the job. He duly accepted and a rocky partnership came into fruition.

That his appointment was met with mere mumblings of support was no surprise, then. Fulham fans were pleased, but not astounded at the choice in manager and their opinions were reflected in what was a jagged, inconsistent and demoralising start to the season. Murphy, Hangeland and the like would never say so, but the team wasn't gelling as expected under the new regime and Craven Cottage was filled with the atmosphere of old; negativity and pessimism. 

A shameful 3-1 home defeat in late December left Mark Hughes' men in the relegation zone and it appeared, even to the most merry of fans, that the hard work of the Hodgson era had been undone in a modest five months filled with few signings, few victories and little ambition.

Mexican left back Carlos Salcido already looked a deficient specimen, defunct of any comprehension of the pace and physicality that is so widely reported in the Premier League. John Pantsil was no longer the man he was and even the assured days of old in Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes seemed to be dissipating.

'We're going to be an end-of-season-team', consistently claimed the manager, but few took his words without seasoning them with salt.

Perhaps we all should have listened though, as the results began to flood in. A double salvo from Chris Baird at the Brittania Stadium kick started what was a stupendous turn in form. By the time forty points had been reached, even travelling Fulham fans had a reason to be jubilant and expectant as they boarded their respective coaches, as Hughes undermined the tactical negativity that Hodgson had installed on Fulham's away days, and produced positive displays at both Sunderland and Birmingham.

Given the spout of good form, Hughes began to emerge from his shell, too. His temperament may have sometimes been sticky but his commitment to the cause was ever present; no more evident than at Molyneux where a water bottle received a bout of rough justice.

And, this passion is a new thing to us Fulham fans. Roy Hodgson rarely showed it and to claim that Lawrie Sanchez had any good intentions would deem you clinically insane. Mark Hughes, despite a lack of genuine support for the club, shows such devotion, affection and intensity for our humble club that you'd think Fulham FC were his spouse. 

All of this makes you think, predecessors aside, that there is no better manager to lead this club into Europe. The team is finally his own and he's aware of its extremities.

So please, Mr Hughes, put us out of our misery and sign a new contract.