The Sweeper: Hughes’ Blues as Mancini takes Man City

Mark Hughes

Big Story
With an air of grim predictability, Mark Hughes was released from Manchester City FC yesterday, forced to watch over his former team’s scrappy 4-3 victory over Sunderland in full knowledge (or not) the game would be his last.  To replace him: former Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini on a three-and-a-half year deal (do these deals really mean anything anymore?).

Yet outside of the various op-eds slaying the blame at Hughes’ player management (one wonders how much say he really had in any of City’s more infamous transfer acquisitions), the most interesting aspect of this story is the cacophony of outrage from other Premier League managers, past and present.

Harry Redknapp: “It’s different now. You’ve got multi-millionaire owners who all want to be No1, and the more that come into the game, they’re not going to understand that they can’t all win.”  Kevin Keegan: “When you read the statement (which announced Hughes’s sacking), it’s not that of a real football club, it’s that of a business.”

There is a sense that it’s still dawning on everyone that the Premier League is, in fact, a very large, aggressive international business; many are clearly clinging to comfy, old notions of managers being given the time to lay the foundation to build a successful club, like Sir Alex Ferguson was able to in the late eighties with Manchester United.  Similar to the appalled gasps (many from aggrieved supporters of the other three Top Four sides) at Wolves’ manager Mick McCarthy’s decision last week to put out a reserve side against Manchester United to keep his first team fit for the more winnable tie today against Burnley, the canned outrage rings a bit hollow in a league where the same four increasingly debt-leveraged teams finish top every year, almost without fail, while newly-promoted sides face much higher odds of relegation in their first season.

Sheik Mansour is a smart enough business person to know there is nothing about the current Premier League that suggests the league hierarchy will be any different from years’ past, despite losses for Manchester United and Liverpool yesterday.  Cracking that crowd involves big money, big players, and big managers—of the latter group Hughes certainly did not belong—with time being of the essence as each year without Champions League money is transfer fees and player wages down the drain.  The only “shock” about yesterday is that the decision to can Hughes wasn’t made sooner.

Worldwide Stories

  • Speaking of clinging to the past, British PR advisor, Max Clifford, says there are two high-profile Premier League footballers who he advised not to come out as gay for fear of football’s homophobic culture: “”It’s a very sad state of affairs. But it’s a fact that homophobia in football is as strong now as it was 10 years ago.”
  • Harry Redknapp will be charged in January by the HM Revenue and Customs office for tax-related issues related to his time at Portsmouth FC.
  • Fake Sigi gives his two cents on the strange noises coming out of Seattle Sounders regarding the Collective Bargaining agreement.
  • The Daily Mail says England’s 2018 World Cup bid is on the verge of total, absolute collapse, with FA chairman Lord Triesman on the verge of stepping down as main bid organizer.

Richard Whittall writes A More Splendid Life.

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