Friday, 30 July 2010

Hughes joins Fulham

Former City boss Mark Hughes was appointed Fulham manager last night.

It's pleasing news. I was very disappointed for Mark Hughes when he was sacked. Roberto Mancini has done better than I thought he would, and so my reaction looks fairly hysterical in retrospect. But I still think, seven months on, that Hughes was unfairly dismissed and that the club acted quite improperly towards him.

Looking back on it, his reign was only ever promising rather than successful. He will not go down as one of the great Manchester City managers, or even one of the better ones of modern times. But he brought us through some turbulence and gave us glimpses of the meaningful moments that define a successful club. And so I'm sympathetic to him, and pleased to see him back in management.

I think he'll do very well in Fulham. It is - and I don't mean this condescendingly - back in his comfort zone, or at least closer to it than ADUG-era Manchester City was. A traditional club, operating on a budget, with few pretensions of style but the ability to play discomfiting hosts in their Archibald Leitch stadium. He will, along with loyal lieutenants Eddie Niedzwicki, Mark Bowen and Kevin Hitchcock, have a smooth transition. They should be able to better last season's twelfth place finish.

They might do even better than that if they sign Craig Bellamy. That is the rumour in today's papers. I can just about see this one happening. I'm sure he's on his way out of City, but I do think we might be unenthusiastic about selling to rivals as direct as Spurs. A move to Fulham wouldn't have the Champions League football available at White Hart Lane, but you can never underestimate the personal bond between Bellamy and Hughes. It's the reason Bellamy was so good for us in 2009, and so problematic in 2010. Re-united with Hughes and Bowen he would be a serious asset for Fulham.

Stephen Ireland is also possible. His place in our 25 man squad is not certain. And while he will attract attention from most of the Premier League, I don't think becoming a squad player at a top six club would be good for him. He is clearly a player who needs the team built round him (in 4-2-3-1 or similar), and who needs the constant emotional support of a manager. I had thought Steve Bruce's Sunderland was the best such platform for him but Mark Hughes' Fulham - with the manager who brought the best from him - would be just as good if not better. He'd have to leave Alderley Edge though.

And then there's Roque Santa Cruz, who had his best game in blue at the Cottage last March. Technically he's in a different league from Bobby Zamora but he's so unreliable I can't see Mohammad al Fayed shelling out on him.

I'm very sympathetic to Fulham and always have been, and so having Hughes and some former MCFC players there will only make me even more so. I wish them the best of luck.


Ian said...

Good post though it does irritate me when you go into sky blue as i can't read it without a great deal of difficulty.

Colin Savage said...

Interesting to compare MH's record at Blackburn over 3 full seasons to RH's at Fulham over 2.

MH had a much better win ratio and points per game. (1.5 v 1.3). Think he'll do a good job at fulham and hopefully Hodgson will bomb at Liverpool.