So much for long-term projects at Manchester City

December 22, 2009

Manchester City’s chief executive Garry Cook has made an impassioned defence of the reasons for Mark Hughes’ sacking.

The feeling persists, however, that Hughes was harshly treated by the club.

Cook states that he and the club’s owners gave Hughes all the resources that he needed to achieve the target of 70 points for the season. The one resource Hughes did not get was time. Had just two of the almost freakish seven successive draws been turned into victories, City would have been in an extremely strong position in the race for a top-four spot.

Even as it stands, they are well-placed in sixth place with 29 points from 17 games, just six points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa with a game in hand. Cook’s statement that the trajectory of recent events gave no evidence to suggest City could reach 70 points is a curious basis on which to sack a manager.

Hughes was asked to put together a team that could threaten the established top four. City beat Chelsea and Arsenal, drew with Liverpool and lost to Manchester United to a goal deep in stoppage time. The only other league defeat was away to Tottenham Hotspur.

City have two very winnable looking games over Christmas. Had Hughes remained in his job and won those, it would have been very hard to justify sacking him, especially with a League Cup semi-final against Manchester United looming.

It all smacks of panic by owners who talked a good game about “long-term projects” but in reality got spooked when some of the league’s more humble clubs refused to roll over and surrender.

Hughes’ replacement Roberto Mancini spoke confidently about fourth place being his target, but not a necessity.

Mancini will get plenty of money to spend in January and next summer. He will also be set lofty targets by the club’s billionaire Arab owners.

A top-five finish this season would probably be seen as satisfactory but Mancini’s comfort zone will not last long. Next season the clock will be ticking.


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I can understand your comments and I agree in principal. However, since when was “hiring and firing” of a Premier League Manager based on logic?

It’s a continual merry-go-round of wanting instant success rather than having patience and confidence in a signing. Giving them time to achieve the goals agreed within reason.

So how long is long enough is more of a question? Obviously it’s down to the board room to decide.

To make an analogy to cooking what these clubs want is an instant meal like a “McDonalds” and not a Michelin Star chef developing a gourmet meal!

Posted by jonnyontheball | Report as abusive

Instant gratification has its repercusssions. In the end, it would be best to let teams simmer for a while for chemistry to develop. City’s case has been proven time and again to be unsuccessful (say – Galacticos in its previous incarnation). Too costly a mistake to make.

Posted by luisito | Report as abusive

Actually, I for one thought that Man City should have had a more experienced manager long time ago. But with the targets that Hughes had, i think he did a very good job. Mancini for one will command more respect from the ‘stars’ in the dressing room.

The Man City hotseat will definitely get hotter season after season. And without success, i see Man City also, having quite a few different managers.

That said, they just have to qualify for the Champions League this season or the next. Without which all the effort and money spent will be a waste.

Posted by indiangooner | Report as abusive

If man city thinks they can buy success with money well than they would have to sign someone like Jose, who is use to spending big and getting best of big egos at Manchester City….Roberto Mancini is a excellent manager but he will build for the future i guess…..

Posted by dummydam | Report as abusive

As you said the other day in yoiur analysis Martyn, Hughes does not come as a manager capable of bringing the best out of a dressing room full of big egos — for all his ability to exceed expectations with the likes of Blackburn. Hence the sacking – it came 18 weeks late and I think the owners were cutting their losses. But it remains to be seen whether Mancini is the right man for the job.

Posted by Magicwand | Report as abusive

Mancini is not a good choice if City wants to build success on money, they needed someone like Jose to be able to get the best out of big name players, or bring someone like martin Oniel who will build the team for the future…..Machester City are now considered a big club and Mancini although come across as a big name manager but he will struggle with the english game and media in my openion..

Posted by sammymad | Report as abusive

man city lost the race to the 4th position in the league and that was not down to the manager, they were just not good enough or in other words spurs were better this season…..its is not at all good News for the city fans and the owners as they will be playing Europea league which was harshly discarded by the the club….

Posted by sammymad | Report as abusive