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Mark Hughes Leaves Blackburn, Goes to City

mark hughes Mark Hughes Leaves Blackburn, Goes to City Manchester City announced the arrival of Mark Hughes to the Eastlands today, where he signed a three-year contract to manage the team he hated playing against when he was at crosstown rivals United.

Hughes took Blackburn as far as he could during his four-year tenure at the club, finishing in the top half of the table in each of his last three seasons at Ewood Park. A year after making it through the Intertoto Cup into the first round of the UEFA Cup, where they were surprisingly knocked out by Greek side AE Larisa, Blackburn missed out on an Intertoto Cup place by three points this time around.

The former Welsh national team coach had a very small budget at Blackburn, a team with a small stadium in the shadow of bigger clubs like Manchester United and even Bolton to a lesser extent. The town of Blackburn itself isn’t a particularly affluent area, and Ewood Park was rarely sold out on game days.

All told, Hughes was at the helm for 188 matches at Blackburn and compiled a solid 82-47-59 record. He was never going to be able to take the club further than he did — competing for a UEFA Cup spot — because he didn’t have enough money available to go out and get the quality of players necessary to make a run at the “Big Four”.

For Hughes’ managerial career to progress, he made the right move to join Manchester City, a club with a much bigger stadium and an owner who has shown he’ll splash the cash. With just that in mind, though, there will also be more expectations to succeed and Hughes has never had to manage in the limelight with any real pressure. Shinawatra drove a more established, successful coach in Sven-Goran Eriksson out of town after just one season, so you know he’ll have no qualms about getting rid of Hughes if the team has a particularly poor season in ’08-’09.

That wealthy owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, is also very hands-on with the sporting side of the club and has shown that he likes to have a say in what’s going on with the team. Sure, he’s not directly picking the side that will come out of the tunnel, but he still has a lot of influence on what’s happening downstairs. I’m not sure that Hughes, given what I’ve seen in his demeanor and personality, will want to deal with that kind of interference from someone who knows very little about the game.

The Premiership coaching carousel is now underway as there’s obviously a vacancy at Blackburn. Hughes took his assistant, Mark Bowen, with him to Manchester so he’s not an option, and the rumor mill so far includes some of the usual suspects: Sam Allardyce, Steve McLaren (who is very close to tying up a deal with Dutch club FC Twente), former Blackburn player Mike Newell, and Slaven Bilic (who won’t be leaving the Croatian national team for Blackburn). I would think, however, that club chairman John Williams would make an effort to bring in someone who is coaching in the Premier League right now. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be someone who’s currently a manager, but someone who is very familiar with what’s going on in England’s top flight.

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7 Responses to Mark Hughes Leaves Blackburn, Goes to City

  1. Kartik says:

    Hughes will be sorry.

    Sven made the right move going to Mexico BTW. If he can get by Honduras and perhaps Canada in the first round of the WC qualifying they’ll be a lock for the WC.

    Mexico has struggled lately despite having lots of young talent. Honduras is the top team in region currently, with Costa Rica and Panama close behind. Right now Mexico is playing the fourth best futbol on the region which is insulting for a nation with so much talent and so many top players. Sven will whip them into shape.

  2. wanderer_abroad says:

    Agree with Kartik that Hughes will be sorry. He’s likely to have a rough season with Shinawatra grinding his teeth behind him all season. What happens in the next month or so is crucial to how Hughes will fare at Man City, as it is the players that he brings in that will probably decide his fate. Boring flops just aren’t an option for an owner who obviously craves success and aesthetics.

  3. eplnfl says:

    I have to join in and say bad move by Hughes. Unless he is given enough cash to buy 11 new world class players, he will not finish better than 6th and that won’t due for City next year.

    Lets hope whatever happens at City will not keep Hughes from his proper place as a upper echelon manager.

    BTW: Sven will be a big hit for Mexico and he knows how to defeat the US, both at altitude and sea level. I guess we can talk about Mexico in another posting.

  4. Lonnie says:

    I also agree with Kartik’s outlook. Glad Sven took his money and then moved on to the Mexico job. Good for him. He’s a quality manager and I think he’ll do a decent job with Mexico.

    City are aiming too high too soon. They need to stabilize being a Top 6 club and play some UEFA Cup before trying to topple the big boys. Just throwing money at a club can only take it so far, you need to have patience and build a stable core of management and players to move forward over the course of a few seasons. Like Hughes did with Blackburn. Too bad he won’t get any time in the new job. If he makes it to Christmas I’ll be amazed…and I give it a year tops and he’ll be sacked.

  5. Lonnie says:

    BTW, I’ll happily eat my words if I am wrong. I like Hughes and hope he can succeed. I just don’t expect it with this owner.

  6. Michael says:

    I think the risk/reward factor is interesting here. Shinawatra has the money and will finance Hughes and spend it to bring in the players Hughes wants (I could see them spending more money this summer than Hughes spent in 4 years at Blackburn), but as we’re all saying, if Hughes doesn’t succeed this year, he’ll be out the door at the end of the season just like Sven.

    Is City really going to finish ahead of Portsmouth, Villa, Everton, and Tottenham next season? It seems doubtful to me, at least with this current group of players, so Hughes has some work to do.

  7. Kartik says:

    I watched Mexico last night and they were a disgrace. They knew a new manager was coming in and didn’t exert any effort in the match. So Sven does have his work cut out for him.

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