Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes taking aim at Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini and Mark Hughes both tried to play down their meeting at Craven Cottage tomorrow, after the acrimonious replacement of the latter by the former as Manchester City manager last December.

But a disagreement emerged over the manner of Hughes' dismissal: the Welshman said that he has never and would never speak to a club over filling a managerial role that was already occupied, while Mancini said that the replacing of managers “is the life” of football managers, and that “if the manager doesn't accept this, he isn't doing his job.”

Hughes was sacked half way through last season. The club justified Hughes' dismissal as being because the “trajectory of recent results” was beneath expectations.

City were eighth after a defeat to Spurs, Champions League football was the target and City were not on course for it. There was criticism of the decision from some quarters but Mancini did not express any misgivings over how he came to the job.

“No, I have no regrets,” he said. “This is our life, this is a manager's life. Today you can stay here, tomorrow you can be at another club. When one manager doesn't work at a club, there is another manager.

“The world is full of football managers. It's not my problem. If the manager doesn't accept this, he isn't doing his job. This is the life.”

Hughes, unsurprisingly, thinks differently of the events of last December.

“It doesn't sit comfortably with me, I don't think I've ever done it, it is a little bit of disrespect for their position. Clubs certainly come to you and ask 'are you interested', but from my point of view I always say 'I wasn't aware there was a vacancy.'“

But thirteen games into this season, Mancini's City are doing no better than they were at this stage last year: with 22 points, and with a worse goal difference.

“We are in fourth position, two points behind United,” Mancini said. “I think we have improved a lot as a team.

“We don't concede a lot of goals.”

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