Friday, 23 October 2009

Hughes' authority

Mark Hughes has done an interview with Oliver Holt today, and he touches quite explicitly on one of the most interesting topics of the last few months: his authority within the club, particularly relating to the Brazilians.

The central point the interview makes, and one which I think is true, is that Hughes has more authority at the club now than he ever has done in the past. And this is because of his discomfiting the Brazilian clique, which was a clear insult to his position. The evidence is mountainous: Jô's unauthorised clubbing, Elano's public complaining over selection, Robinho's storming out of the Tenerife training camp, Jô and Elano's alleged accompanying of Tal Ben Haim in his complaint to Garry Cook about Hughes, and Robinho's flouting of the club dress code. And then, most importantly, their lack of application in training and their decision to pick and choose the games in which they tried. Yes, Elano and Robinho were exceptional in Autumn and again in Spring. But in winter they chose not to try, and that is a disgrace to the club.

This is a point that Hughes admits in the interview:

“Last year,” Hughes said, “there were occasions when I compromised my own standards and values and that didn’t sit comfortably with me so I knew it wouldn’t continue.

“Little details involving disciplinary indiscretions become big problems if you don’t address them but in the short term, I couldn’t do anything about it. It was the wrong time.

“The benefit of addressing those little details at that time would have caused problems. Instead of solving problems, they would have created bigger problems. That was why at times I let things go. Not to my comfort, I have to say."

I don't think he's ever been this honest about this issue. But that, I suppose, is a reflection of his strengthened position. Not only have Elano and Jô been moved on, but the introduction of Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tévez, Gareth Barry and so forth means that Robinho no longer has a monopoly on stardom. He is no longer an automatic pick, no longer the only story at City, no longer surrounded by allies and no longer a rival to Hughes. He may go to Barcelona in 2010, he may not. But he does not have the status he once did. Hughes is the master now:

“Managing a football club is about building a culture. I would suggest a lot of other managers don’t get involved in trying to build a mentality but I don’t think you can be successful without it.

“It is about trying to get a work ethic and a way of thinking that enables you to be successful as a group. If you have too many pulling in the wrong direction, you have to cut them off.

“My values won’t be compromised in the future because we are in a different place now.”

This transformation - from a dysfunctional club, with the Hughes faction at war with the Brazilians, capable of occassional beautiful football but weak under pressure, to one with grit and nous, that wins on the road and grinds out results, is the only story at Manchester City this year. And Hughes' victory over the Brazilians is a central part of this.

1 comment:

Steven McInerney said...

He might be a better manager than we think, this Mr Hughes fella ya know.