There is an interesting interview in today's Mail with Mark Hughes in which he reflects on his time to date at Fulham, touches on his playing career and, of most interest, his thoughts:
‘Look, we'd drawn a lot of games - too many - but we were a team still forming. I knew there wasn't much time to get it right, because I sensed they were looking for an excuse to change it. ‘The chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, turned up unannounced for a surprise visit and it was obvious they were going to sack me. Then we beat Arsenal 3-0 and Chelsea 2-1.
'It was only when we lost at Tottenham...well, they had been looking for that chance. I wasn't their man, I wasn't their appointment.'
At times, I had support. 'At times, I needed support and I didn't get it. And then there were times when support that was there was withdrawn ... especially towards the end.'
‘Eventually, I understood it was a feeling of relief that it was over. I wasn't enjoying it there at the end. I had no bitterness, no regrets, but I was relieved to be away.'
Looking it is apparent that Mancini was lined up for a while to replace Hughes, with just the timing (again, a topic much covered on here) of the dismissal being in question. Despite the wins against Arsenal and Chelsea (as Hughes says) they were merely looking for the result that meant they could pull the trigger; the manner of the defeat at Tottenham effectively ending Hughes's time.
Hughes also touches on an interesting point of quite how much change was needed at the club to transition them into a side (and club) that could be positioned to be genuine contenders in terms of Champions League qualification and trophies:
'At City, I didn't realise how much we had to do until we got there.
'I needed to engage people there and quickly and I probably didn't engage everyone quickly enough,' he recalls. 'If you don't take people with you, then they can start to work against you.'
There were plenty of players within the squad that Hughes butted heads with, but despite the additions Mancini had made, there are plenty of key elements that Mancini heavily relies on and were indicative of the changes Hughes wanted to implement: Zabaleta, Kompany, de Jong, Barry and Tevez.
It is of course an unknown what Hughes could have achieved at the club if he had been given time, yet considering I was one of the main Hughes-backers when the criticism began to gather pace, I have to admit that the strides the team has taken under Mancini would in all probability not been matched by Hughes.
That said, I'm sure history will remember the steps that Hughes took to put in place some of the building blocks that the future successes of the club will in part be built upon.