Hughes: City can push for title

Fulham boss Mark Hughes has tipped old club Manchester City to be title contenders if they learn to be more attack-minded on home soil.

Amid claims of negativity against his successor Roberto Mancini, Hughes saw his Fulham side ripped apart by City on Sunday afternoon.

The Blues cruised into a 3-0 half-time lead before eventually registering a 4-1 success that leaves them just three points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

"If they have belief and there’s forward-thinking, and maybe they can be more attack-minded – as they were today – on more occasions, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be contenders," said Hughes.

"They were excellent.

"We were complicit in that with the time we let them have. But they’ve got as good a chance as anybody."

Hughes shook hands with Mancini after the final whistle, suggesting there is no lingering resentment at how the Italian negotiated with City whilst he was still in a job last December.

However, the Welshman was probably far more frustrated at his own side’s failings.

City were ahead after just five minutes thanks to Carlos Tevez, one of five members of the visiting starting line-up Hughes was responsible for taking to Eastlands.

The visitors then dominated possession before Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure struck in a three-minute spell just before the break.

Tevez added another, to take his season’s tally to 10, in the second-half and though Fulham pulled one back through a Zoltan Gera shot that struck Clint Dempsey, it was purely academic.

"Last week I was a stupid manager who was six points behind. Now, I am the ‘best manager’ because I am only three points off the top of the league," shrugged Mancini.

"This is not important. We must continue to work and improve every game, every day. Only that way can we win.

"But if we have a big problem and a big crisis and we are only three points behind United and Chelsea, then we are doing well.

"But, in our minds, we must only think about working."

As the stellar signing of Hughes’ era, Tevez chose the perfect moment to show he is behind Mancini with a man of the match display.

He is now top scorer in the Premier League and clearly a major weapon in City’s drive for top spot.

"It is difficult to mention only one player today," said Mancini.

"All the players played very well.

"Carlos is a striker who scored two goals, but he scored twice because he worked this week and, the last two weeks before Birmingham, he wasn’t training.

"He was injured and had a problem. But all the players today were fantastic."

It was not a great way for Fulham owner Mohamed al-Fayed to introduce Diego Maradona to the Cottage, with Hughes acknowledging his side were the architects of their own downfall.

"On a professional level I don’t like being beaten in that manner by anybody," he reflected.

"We just allowed good players too much time and space, and we can’t afford that.

"We spoke about it at length before the game but couldn’t execute it. The game was over at half-time."