As soon as the Abu Dhabi owners moved into Manchester City I feared for Mark Hughes.
It’s not that he isn’t a good manager. Patently, he is. But the money they were threatening to spend, as quickly as they did, I felt it had to work quickly or it wouldn’t work at all - for Hughes.
At first, the owners and the obnoxious Chief Executive Gary Cooke spoke only of their faith in the Welshman and their thoughts on the ‘long term’.
Their gross hypocrisy was exposed on Saturday evening.
Easily, the most telling comments from the City press release were these: “Prior to the current season beginning, with significant investment in players and infrastructure in place, the consensus between the Board and coaching staff (sic Hughes) was that appropriate agreed targets should be set for the 2009/2010 season.
“A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the agreed targets that were agreed and set.”
There was no mention of just two defeats all season one of which, at Old Trafford, was scarcely deserved.
So, since they didn’t tell us, let’s speculate on what these targets were.
The title? You are having a laugh.
The top four? City sit sixth, six points behind 4th place but with a game in hand.
A trophy? A Carling Cup semi final against Manchester United beckons in January.
The few City callers to 6-0-6 supporting Hughes dismissal — I’m amazed there were any — mentioned that his face ‘didn’t fit’.
No, I suppose it didn’t. Hughes is far too measured, too prepared to ‘build’, for owners that ‘want it’ today, not tomorrow.
Again, what hypocrisy from supporters whose club hasn’t won a trophy since 1976?
Or was it because he was such a great servant of their hated rivals United? It doesn’t seem to affect their adoration of Carlos Tevez.
Hughes has made mistakes. Of that, there’s no doubt. There were too many draws and why did he dispose of Richard Dunne and bring in the likes of Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure? Would you stake your career on that pair of central defenders?
And there’s, in my words, the joke that is Robinho. He’s the player that performs pitifully away from home and only occasionally AT home.
Is it only a week that I dismissed the Brazilian’s words about staying at Eastlands for five years, maybe 10? Is that the same player who stormed down the tunnel at White Hart Lane having been substituted?
I accept that with a net spend of £200+ million you expect results. How quickly? How reasonably? Are the owners sure that Roberto Mancini, with no track record in the Premier League, will deliver?
I don’t think so. Indeed, 12 months down the line, having spent loads in two transfer windows bringing in ‘his’ players, will the Italian be judged more of a success than Hughes? Will they sack him? Will they start again?
Mark, take a break: enjoy a Christmas without pressure. Console yourself with the pay-off. With your ability, there’ll be big clubs knocking on your door very soon.