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Rallying call

"We have a huge game now against Hamburg on Thursday in the UEFA Cup and it's very important to show the fans what we can do. We're hurting now, but we have to be positive and make a fresh start from today."
>>Nigel de Jong.

Whilst the feeling (in terms of turning the tie around) appeared to be positive following defeat in the first leg, the mood has changed somewhat following the Fulham defeat with much of the comment on forums and message boards fairly resigned to elimination from the UEFA Cup on Thursday.

Is there any hope of turning the tie around? It appears that the ownership are going to be in town for the game - with sections of the press trying to link the game to a 'last chance' for Hughes - and I don't doubt that an exit on Thursday will be quickly followed by unnamed quotes and comments from various 'sources'.

A quick look at odds around on UK Sports betting sites shows we are favourites to win the tie, but that we are not favoured to do enough to get the necessary scoreline to progress, and I'm not sure we will be appearing on too many soccer betting coupons this week.

Trying to take positives ahead of Thursday though, the fact we have to scoring it least two goals is perhaps the one thing in our favour. Having to score a minimum of two goals ensures we have to attack, there is no other option. Hamburg will also be wary, knowing that an early goal could unsettle them.

There will be a full house, I'm sure in good voice and backing the side (despite recent disappointments). The side will know that an early goal will be the best way of keeping the fans onside. With this in mind, I'd expect Hughes to feature an attacking side, featuring both Elano and Robinho as Hughes has no alternative but to go for broke.

It is potentially set up to be a landmark night on Thursday, and history shows that many managers have faced situations where they were on the brink before a game, or moment, turns their fortunes around.

Could Thursday be that one for Mark Hughes?