No, this has nothing to do with Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Instead, it’s a true story about Manchester City manager Mark Hughes and how he’s creating his own factory under the gray skies of Lancashire.
You have to respect a manager who is willing to add discipline to a football club. The perfect example of this is Mark Hughes, who ran a tight ship at Blackburn, and who is now tightening the screws at Manchester City.
Instead of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s relaxed atmosphere, Hughes is already focusing the club and its players on improving its attitude and mental focus. Yesterday, for example, Hughes discussed how he has changed the rules at Manchester City’s training complex named Carrington. Under Eriksson’s reign, football agents were allowed to roam the training facilities.
But now Hughes has enacted a policy where entrance to Carrington is by appointment only and carefully screened.
“There’s no longer an open door to everybody,” said Hughes. “Agents and every Tom, Dick and Harry were allowed into the building, and that’s not the case now. Certain structures have to be adhered to, or you end up with anarchy.”
Hughes has also banned mobile phones and iPods.
‘The training ground is very much a working area now. I’m not really one for putting down strict guidelines. But what the players have to understand is that there are certain boundaries which shouldn’t be stepped over.
“It’s not revolutionary making the training ground our place of work. Maybe that wasn’t the case before. Too many people had access to the building, the inner sanctum. It’s where we try to hone our skills. It’s a football factory.
“Most people aren’t allowed to go to see their mates when they’re working in a factory, so why should they be allowed to come to our factory? The players can see the benefit. It’s helping us create the atmosphere that we need.”
This is exactly what Manchester City needs. While Eriksson did incredibly well last season by turning the team around, they lost their form for the second half of the season. Some of it was due to injuries, yes, but a fitter team with more determination may have been able to save Eriksson from losing his job.
Now, Manchester City looks like a team reborn with new signings Jo (soon to be on Olympics duty) and former Bolton and Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim. With Richard Dunne committed to City, the club can also look forward to another season with bright players including Elano, Vedrun Corluka, Micah Richards, Martin Petrov, Nedum Onuoha, Michael Johnson and Benjani.
After the disappointment of losing out on Ronaldinho, don’t be surprised if City brings in a few more talented players in the August transfer window. Already, there’s a new swagger about Manchester City with Mark Hughes at the helm. Let’s see if that translates into an even better season during the next 10 months.
Manchester City fans will be able to see how well the football factory is doing this evening when City plays EB/Streymur from the Faroe Islands at Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. The match is at Barnsley because City’s pitch is being relaid thanks to a recent Bon Jovi concert.
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