Mark Hughes: A Victim of Tyranny and Ridiculous Expectations
Mark Hughes became the latest victim of the outlandish expectations placed on football managers because of the exorbitant amounts of money involved in the global game.
It is a giant machine that feeds off the dreams and expectations of billions and then dines lavishly on gratuitous amounts of the world's currency.
According to the ownership group that took over at Manchester City, they were ready to steer clear of the somewhat tempestuous waters of a revolving-door manager policy, and give Mark Hughes a decent crack at turning the team into realistic challengers in the English and European game.
They have however today delivered the news that Hughes is old news at Man City, and a brave new regime under the leadership of Roberto Mancini will now take the helm of the stuttering "big boys" of world football.
Mancini is definitely in, with the chance to now do a "Mourinho" and take the club to heights it would never have dreamed. As was the case with Ranieri, the platform was being laid by a manager who was still perfecting the chemistry of his ideal lineups.
Hughes had already this season overseen two defeats of Arsenal, a defeat of league leaders Chelsea, and a game stolen at the death at old adversaries Manchester United. His side had looked in excellent form in the early weeks, with Emmanuel Adebayor on fire and things were looking extremely promising.
The second defeat of Arsenal involved beating them in the quarter finals of the League Cup, taking City to another showdown with the old enemy from Old Trafford. City having not won a trophy since 1976; coincidentally the one they won was indeed the League Cup.
What a nod at the heroes of the past it would have been for Hughes and the team to have lifted the trophy that had caused so much joy for the club all those years ago.
Disappointingly for Hughes, he is now out of a job and will have to watch as his team wins the League Cup without him. Sixth place in the league is also a strong position, considering the equality that has been seen over the fixtures so far.
The run of draws had proved that the chemistry was still not there from the core players, and that serious work was needed to shore up the confidence of the defensive unit.
If this required the acquisition of a new defender, then Hughes would have been about to do it. Hughes was able to work wonders at Blackburn on a comparatively dental floss-like budget to Man City's, in transforming them from stragglers to European competitors.
Big things were expected of him in taking over Manchester City from Sven Goran-Eriksson in 2008.
Over the course of his time in charge, he has in fact performed reasonably soundly, considering the task he had laid out before him.
To transform one of the most unpredictable teams in the English Premier League into some mode of consistency would have been no easy task.
As is the case with revolving-door management policies, Goran-Eriksson was responsible for reigniting the team to a certain extent before—in what was a shock to many—he was sacked and replaced by Hughes.
This actually would have immediately warned Hughes of the fragility of the arrangement he was entering in taking over a club with large expectations.
The biggest transformation was to follow for City, as a club and to Hughes' job description, when the ridiculously cashed-up Abu Dhabi Group took ownership of the Manchester side. Suddenly they were the richest club on earth, and had the rest of the world at their mercy with wads of cash during a financial drought.
Hughes had made what seemed like sound additions to the team, as he tinkered with selections and combinations over his first season in charge. There were promising moments during this season, including a 3-0 win over Arsenal on opening day.
Overall though they were let down by poor away form, something that dogs many of the teams who find themselves stuck in the limbo state of mid-table mediocrity.
The new season opened with a series of promising results, and it looked as though the plan was working, as they won games with Adebayor in wonderful form—scoring a cracker on opening day, and then again managing to beat Arsenal well when the Gunners came north.
The draws are apparently what led to Hughes being told his services were no longer required, with the 3-0 reverse to in-form Spurs being the final straw.
Once again a manager is given a time frame that is beyond even the best that have graced the game. One of the most telling examples of time invested in success is not far from where Hughes has fallen and somewhere he can still enjoy a welcome if he is ever around.
Sir Alex Ferguson took charge of Manchester United in 1986, and finally delivered a trophy in winning the 89-90 FA Cup. With Hughes taking his team to the semi of the League Cup already, he was even possibly about to go one better than his old mentor, in winning a trophy within two years of his taking control of a Manchester side.
Instead he is now gone, and Roberto Mancini has the opportunity delivered to him on a platter to take the team to the next level.
One is of the mind he will have to deliver fairly promptly on the desire for success that his new employers have, or he will as well be sent packing. He seems to be in with a decent shot, with the groundwork Hughes has laid and the team he has assembled.
Mancini will owe a nod to Hughes if he takes this team to the next level, as the Welshman has turned the club around and transformed them into genuine challengers with good wins against some of the top sides and some lovely attacking football played in parts of the season so far.
Perhaps it will be the League Cup that is lifted first. With United in obvious strife, City have a great chance to knock out their most bitter enemies and go on to the first trophy since '76. Hopefully Hughes will allow himself a wry smile when he hears it, despite the probable anger he will also feel.
One thing about Hughes: He is a champion, and has been for all of his life, with medals at several different clubs including the European winners cup with both Manchester United and Chelsea.
He will inevitably bounce back and it will no doubt be interesting to see where he ends up.
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