It takes a very brave man to risk his managerial credibility being diminished and take on the lead role at Manchester City, and Mark Hughes has proved he has the heart of a lion by agreeing to work with ruthless owner Thaksin Shinawatra.
Just days after Sven Goran Eriksson’s controversial sacking, Hughes takes the manager’s position with strict orders from Shinawatra to fulfil his ambitions of challenging the top four for the lucrative and glamorous Champions League places. At the very least a top-six finish is expected, and this is a mountainous challenge in itself with the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton to fiercely compete against.
Hughes has toweringly high ambitions of his own though, and his move to City will allow his visions to be matched with a high transfer budget being handed to him.
This will be on top of the already imminent arrival of Brazilian striker Jo, who is expected to cost around £18m, and possibly even his compatriot Ronaldinho, who may require slightly more millions.
These signings, as well as plenty more quality new additions, will give Hughes great belief that he can turn this mid-table certainty into a Uefa Cup flyer. And he won’t have to wait long to get his first taste of Europe with City, as the club have in fact qualified for next season’s competition via the fair play system, which will give him the immediate opportunity to bring a type of success that the club is not used to even dreaming of.
A lot of football experts will still rate Hughes’ chances of success as minimal, as only one season of underachievement is likely to spell the end of the former United striker’s Manchester mission. His boss is one of the toughest men to please in world football today, but Hughes will not be shy to the violent pressure that comes with such a job.
After all, he will surely manage in a much hotter pressure cooker on the other side of Manchester one day.