Shay Given had made 354 EPL starts on his arrival at City, Gareth Barry 353, Wayne Bridge 226, Kolo Touré 203, Craig Bellamy 185, Adebayor 86, Tévez 68 and Santa Cruz 53. Yes, Nigel de Jong was brought in from abroad but only after we failed to sign Scott Parker (195 EPL starts). This summer we have also pursued John Terry (261) and Joleon Lescott (109). So the pattern is clear, as is the recent focus on specifically top six EPL experience and on trophies won.
These priorities, and their impact on the team, are discussed by Hughes in a recent interview:
"When you look at the amount of games our new players have played in the Premier League, it is huge," he said.I think our ground out win at Ewood Park is already testimony to the success of this policy. Neither our soft centred 2008/09 side, nor Eriksson's 2007/08 team won at Ewood Park, nor at many other similar grounds. Of course, there's still thirty seven EPL games left but based on the evidence so far it looks like a sound plan.
"That was something we were lacking as a team last year and, at times, we were found wanting because of it.
"We didn't have the experience of seeing games out and banging out results.
"We have improved that right down the spine of the team, which is always important, with Kolo at the back, Gaz in the middle of the park and Ade up front. It gives us a good solid middle to the team."