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Hughes takes charge at Fulham

Mark Hughes patrols the touchline during his time in charge at Eastlands. (Picture from Getty images)
Mark Hughes patrols the touchline during his time in charge at Eastlands. (Picture from Getty images)

Confirmed earlier this week of course that former manager Mark Hughes has taken the reigns at Fulham following Roy Hodgson's departure to Liverpool.

Upon his appointment Hughes commented (although he is scheduled for a full press-conference next Tuesday ) :

‘I am happy to have joined Fulham following much speculation regarding the appointment of a new Manager. I have discussed my aspirations with both the Chairman and Alistair Mackintosh and believe that we are aligned in our aims for what can realistically be achieved here.

‘I am joining on the back of two of the most successful seasons in the Club’s history, and that in itself brings with it the challenges of expectation and ambition. I am confident that with some additions to the squad, hard work and commitment, we can move this Club forward in the right direction.

‘I hope the Fulham fans will enjoy some special times during this season’s campaign and we will work hard to achieve that. I’m looking forward to working with the squad as soon as possible, and in making sure the on-pitch preparations are complete before the first competitive ball is kicked in August.

It is an appointment as I'm sure that when Hughes was dismissed from the club back in December 2009, he envisaged that he would have a shot at one of the 'big jobs' if it came available - perhaps ironic then that he replaces the man who was appointed as manager at Liverpool.

Unfortunately for Hughes he has likely found (as I wrote in the wake of his sacking) that a curtailed spell in charge at a club where he had made a big step up was (rightly or wrongly) his one and only shot. After a spell out of the game - where he was no doubt sounded out on more than one occasion - he has felt that Fulham presents the best opportunity for him.

Whilst not considered one of the elite roles, I think Hughes does find himself in a good situation at Fulham.

Hodgson left behind a club with a settled squad with a good set of resources that has posted successful back to back seasons culminating in a Europa League final appearance. Financially they are not known as one of the big spenders, but they are not saddled with big debts and given the nature and ambition Hughes possesses, he will undoubtedly have had commitments regarding available budget.

Naturally, the press have been quick to link Hughes with bids for the likes of Craig Bellamy and Roque Santa Cruz, and whilst these are very plausible given their history (particularly with Bellamy), City will have to take a hit both on transfer fee and wages to facilitate moves.

Perhaps Hughes may target the likes of Onouha, Richards and Ireland - all surely within Fulham's range, and the scouting network that snared Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta at relatively frugal cost may well again be deployed given he is taking his backroom team of Bowen, Niedzwiecki and Hitchcock with him.

At outset I'd imagine a top ten finish for Fulham would be satisfactory, but top eight or even a tilt at the Europa League places is not beyond them if Hughes doesn't encounter any early problems.

And it should make for an interesting encounter on Sky when City travel to Fulham on Sunday November 21st.