Comment As You Like But The Manager Knows Best: Manchester City
Earlier this month, I wrote a very small piece expressing my guilt as I had begun to doubt Mark Hughes' ability to be effective as Man City's manager.
I didn't like doubting him, in fact, I was saddened by the apparent lack of vision, man management, and tactical ability that was on show at the club.
Results weren't good and players seemed to not want to play for him.
It was a low point for me and I was worried for the club that I love.
More recently, as player purchases have been made and the Kaka deal shed light on what was happening behind the scenes, I became convinced that Hughes' show be given time.
Even if doubts still remained, it seems that City runs a tight ship and their plan—known as 'the project'—must have real substance to them, even if they are not in the public domain.
Now a week or so later, I am fully behind the manager and am fully convinced that he IS the man for the job.
I am most definitely not a knee-jerk reaction fan.
I don't believe a word of what the papers write, so I don't get vexed or frustrated because of them as many do.
So what has changed?
Quite simply, I was at the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday night and watched City beat Newcastle United.
What I saw was the first real glimpse of what Hughes is aiming to deliver. The team was more in his image than before and I liked what I saw.
There is no doubt that further investment is needed and will be made and that the money is going to be spent well.
In the matter of a single transfer window (January never being the best opportunity to invest), he has made a massive improvement in the shape, balance, and quality of the starting eleven.
De Jong looks very able and adds steel where it was lacking—so we can forget about the nightmare that is Hamaan.
Bridge is exactly the player we needed—ignoring his error on Wednesday.
Bellamy was a revelation on Wednesday and proved why money has frequently been spent on him.
Zabeltea, another Hughes purchase, proved his quality and versatility as well and was deservedly given the man of the match award.
The imminent purchase of Shay Given is bang on the money (sorry for the bad pun considering the £5m bid).
Kolo Toure is more of a stop-gap purchase but a wise one.
A further centre half this season would have quieted a few nerves but if we have to wait until the summer, then so be it.
Add a fit and healthy Bojinov (Cough cough) Petrov and Michael Johnson and there are options all through the squad.
The commentators in the press and on the TV are having to look for stories and seem not to have clue one.
The traditional media cannot appreciate the way in which City is now run—quietly and effectively.
They seem to think that the club craves attention at every step but they don't.
They feel that their inaccurate stories won't be challenged but they will.
They feel that a press conference means that Hughes and the club will simply roll over and spill the beans but they won't.
I am heartened by the fact that the owner and the chairman seem to understand the game more than all of the press, commentators, and analysts put together.
Too often, there is a self-fulfilling prophecy about press reporting as chairmen feel the pressure that builds up in the media and sack managers, rather than stick by them.
Again City is doing things their own way, and try as they might, the papers are unable to build up that head of steam.
City ain't biting.
In a couple of hours, City plays against Stoke, and if they win, the newspapers will be full of stories about Hughes being the right man for the job.
For once they will be right.
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