Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Hughes regrets Fulham resignation

Mark Hughes resigned as Fulham manager in 2011

Mark Hughes has admitted he made a mistake in leaving Fulham as he prepares to return to the west London club with Stoke this weekend.

Hughes resigned as Fulham manager in the summer of 2011, citing a desire to further his career.

At the time he was heavily linked with the vacancy at Aston Villa but it was QPR where he was eventually to work next, and it proved to be a dismal experience.

The Welshman was sacked last November after just 10 chaotic months at Loftus Road with his team bottom of the Premier League.

He is now hoping to revive his career at Stoke but revealed regret over his Fulham exit as he prepared for his first return to Craven Cottage.

The 49-year-old said: "I left under something of a cloud.

"At the time I made the decision to leave because, given what I knew and what I thought was going to happen in the future, I couldn't commit to a new contract.

"I made the decision to leave but, with hindsight, it was probably the wrong decision.

"When I was there I had a few doubts over what kind of investment would be made available to strengthen the team.

"I interpreted that as maybe that the club didn't want to keep on progressing.

"Obviously, almost immediately after I left they started investing in good players and spending some money, so I probably got that wrong."

Hughes spent a promising year at Fulham, guiding the team to an impressive eighth spot in the Premier League in 2010-11.

He is proud of that achievement but is now focusing on his task with Stoke, where he has made an encouraging start since being appointed in the summer.

The past fortnight has brought setbacks, however, with defeats to Arsenal and Norwich, and Hughes wants to get back to winning ways at his old club.

He said: "I had a great time at Fulham, there are some fantastic people there.

"We had a great year. We were eighth in the Premier League when I left, their second-highest position ever in the Premier League.

"At the time I made a decision I thought was correct but in hindsight it probably wasn't.

"I think most Fulham fans will feel I did well in a short amount of time.

"I don't think I have got anything to prove there. I am looking to go back there with my team now, which is Stoke, and do well.

"We need to get back on track."

Hughes is disappointed that his successor at Fulham, Martin Jol, has come under fire in recent weeks.

Fulham have made an indifferent start to the season, collecting just four points from six games, but Hughes says it is too early to write off the Dutchman.

He said: "I think it is really crazy at this early stage of the season.

"It is ridiculous that a quality manager like Martin Jol is coming under pressure.

"He has got great experience and has worked at a high level throughout his career.

"He has the ability and knowledge to get through a perceived period of uncertainty."

Hughes has earned plaudits for some of his early work at Stoke, notably his desire to develop a more fluid passing style and change the perception of the team as physical and direct.

The reign of former manager Tony Pulis continues to cast a shadow, however, with reports this week of a bust-up between players at the training ground.

It was claimed that captain Ryan Shawcross told off striker Kenywne Jones for publicly criticising the former boss and an argument involving several players ensued.

Hughes said: "That was a fabrication. It never actually happened.

"I don't know why the guy who wrote the story seemed to want to go down that route.

"Whether or not he has got an agenda and is trying to be mischievous, I have no idea. It certainly didn't happen."

Stoke owner Peter Coates has since asked players to stop speaking publicly about Pulis.

Hughes said: "Mr Coates has mentioned that it is unhelpful to keep bringing Tony up and I fully agree with that.

"But there was never any bust-up. It was a total fabrication."

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