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Splits in the camp?

The Brazilian midfielder Elano is, in particular, considered lazy and a negative influence. Micah Richards, who has made little headway for the last season and a half, is considered a poor trainer, too interested in the time in the weights room which has contributed to his ballooning muscle bulk. Michael Johnson is at the club each day to do the rehabilitation work on his abdominal injury but is lacking the conviction to recuperate.

A rather explosive piece from Ian Herbert, and the first real glimpse behind the scenes during the Mark Hughes regime.

There are plenty of concerns within it, both from the perspective of the approach from certain players and also from Hughes himself. Perhaps one is as a result of the other though?

Not a huge surprise to see the names of Elano and Johnson linked with butting heads with Hughes, but what was particularly interesting to read was the mention of both Richards and Dunne in terms of their approach to training and 'match preparation' - something that could explain the pairs continuing loss of form this season.

Where there is a degree of sympathy I think for Hughes is that this season is very much a transition one, to an extent that we have not seen at the club before. Hughes is clearly trying to assemble his own side, and the signings of Kompany, Wright-Phillips and Zabaleta have proved succesful (I won't count the signing of Robinho as one of Hughes's).

Also, Hughes is trying to change the culture from the previous regime which he has been on record as saying was too easy-going, and given the performance over the second half of last season there is some validity to this.

What is apparant though is that Hughes clearly has a set way of operating and expects everyone to fall in line. If they don't, then they are moved on and this could lead to some surprise departures.

Whereas this approach has served well in the past for him, where he has got the best (and more) out of players he is now operating at a different level, with bigger name players (and the egos that accompany them) and maybe he does have to show a degree of flexibility.

It is easy though to solely attach blame to Hughes, with his hard line approach rubbing certain factions up the wrong way, but given the sense that the club could be on to something big over the next few years, why would a player jeopardize the opportunity to be part of that?

And if they are doing, do we need them at the club?