Birmingham must spend wisely, says Hughes
Mark Hughes has welcomed Alex McLeish to the 'big-money club' by warning the Birmingham boss to spend wisely.
Manchester City boss Hughes is aiming to improve on a run of just one win in five Barclays Premier League matches when he takes his mega-bucks outfit to St. Andrews on Sunday.
There he will confront a team newly taken over, and with a manager being promised vast sums to spend in the next transfer window.
That is all old hat for Hughes, who has gone through something similar at Eastlands this season as City have engaged in a spend, spend, spend policy to cut the gap between themselves and the big four.
Now it is Birmingham's turn, and Hughes said: "My advice to anyone in Alex's position, is to spend the money wisely.
"We have tried to do that, to increase the quality of the squad that we have and get the right players in here. We have tried to improve the standard and the depth of the squad.
"It depends on how much finance the new owners will make available for McLeish.
"When Sheikh Mansour took over here, everyone thought that there was an endless amount of money, which is not quite the case. We are working to a budget, maybe a little bit bigger than most, but we are working to a budget."
Hughes has some sympathy for McLeish, who is now in an unusual position for any manager more used to tighter financial controls.
He said: "It's not easy. There are a lot of things that will happen when takeovers go through.
"At times, you just want to be fully informed. If you are, and you are part of the process, then you're very much in tune with what's going on - and that is reassuring.
"That was the case when Sheikh Mansour took over. I was kept fully informed. I knew exactly what the long-term plan was, and as a consequence it was easier than it could have been.
"It is about communication, making sure that you are involved at every level and have an understanding of what the plan is.
"If you have that, then there's no reason why they cannot go quite smoothly."
But he added: "You must spend wisely. That's key to it. Irrespective of what budget you have, it is how you use that finance that is the key factor.
"If you spend well, which we feel here that we have done, then you can improve your squad and you can improve the level of performance that you produce on a consistent basis.
"With any money that comes into the club, or any perceived change in the levels of finance that you have, then there is a lot more interest.
"I would expect their profile will be raised if they do go into the market with some vigour."
Hughes expects to have Kolo Toure, Wayne Bridge and Martin Petrov back on Sunday, the trio having sat out the midweek Carling Cup victory over Scunthorpe with minor injuries.
Craig Bellamy and Emmanuel Adebayor were also rested in midweek and should return to a squad that has been boosted by the return of Michael Johnson and the excellent form shown by Roque Santa Cruz on his full debut in the cup tie.
Hughes is aware that his side must address their recent form, but he is confident they are heading in the right direction.
He said: "Is our glass half-full or half-empty? I would say half-full. We are the only side that's only been beaten once in the Premier League. That is something to look back on.
"People are looking at the goals we've conceded in recent games and questioning our defensive capability.
"But if you look overall, there is only Chelsea who have conceded fewer than us in the top six and Chelsea are the only team with more clean sheets than us.
"If you look through all the stats, then maybe in terms of defending, we are not as bad as we are being painted.
"But we are not going to avoid addressing certain issues in terms of elements of our defending. That would be wrong. Every goal is a consequence of a lapse in concentration or technique.
"You can look at any goal you concede and see a problem with it. It's about making sure those problems do not become consistent problems."