Man City fires manager Hughes, hires Mancini

Manchester City fired manager Mark Hughes on Saturday and

immediately hired former Inter Milan Roberto Mancini in an effort

to turn an expensively assembled squad into title challengers.

While Hughes had lost just two matches this season after

spending around $330 million on new players inside a year, the

club’s wealthy owner was dissatisfied with a string of draws that

had left City sixth in the Premier League standings.

Hughes did manage to mastermind a 4-3 victory over Sunderland

on Saturday before the official announcement, but his fate had

already been sealed by a 3-0 loss at Tottenham on Wednesday.

“A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly

not in line with the targets that were agreed and set,” chairman

Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in a statement less than two hours after

the final whistle. “(Owner) Sheikh Mansour and the board felt that

there was no evidence that the situation would fundamentally

change.”

Hughes had been in charge since June last year and had the

backing of the vast wealth of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, who

bought the club in September 2008.

To produce City’s first major title since 1976 and break into

the top four of the league, Hughes was given more than 200 million

pounds ($328 million; ?226 million), which he spent on top talent

including Robinho, Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor,

Kolo Toure, Roque Santa Cruz and Joleon Lescott.

“Prior to the current season beginning, with significant

investment in players and infrastructure in place, the consensus

between the board and coaching staff was that appropriate agreed

targets should be set,” said Al Mubarak, who had previously stated

publicly that a top-six finish would have sufficed this season.

“The targets were agreed as a result of the player acquisition

strategy of the club being radically accelerated in the summer as a

result of very favorable conditions for any buying club.

“It was also based on the fact that the infrastructure of the

club had been overhauled completely at great cost in order to

create the best possible environment for the team.”

Now City is following the latest trend in English football of

turning to an Italian to revive its fortunes. The 45-year-old

Mancini will be looking to emulate Fabio Capello, whose England

side breezed through qualification to the 2010 World Cup, and Carlo

Ancelotti, who has returned Chelsea to the top of the league.

Mancini, whose only experience in England was a four-game

spell as a Leicester player in 2001, had been out of work since

leaving Inter in 2008 after steering the Italian club to its third

consecutive Serie A title. He will be assisted by Brian Kidd, the

former City and Man United player who had been serving under Hughes

in a technical development role.

“Roberto is a hugely experienced manager with a proven track

record of winning trophies and championships,” Al Mubarak said.

“His experience and track record speak for themselves.

“What is absolutely clear is that Roberto believes in

Manchester City’s potential to achieve at the highest level and

importantly in his own ability to make this happen.”

Hughes, who was powerful center forward with Man United,

Barcelona and Chelsea, progressed rapidly as a manager.

After playing 72 matches for Wales before his international

retirement in 1999, he took Wales close to reaching its first major

tournament since 1958.

He left in 2004 to move into club management at Blackburn,

transforming it from relegation candidates into a side that twice

qualified for the UEFA Cup through top-six finishes.

Hughes was hired by City in June 2008 after Sven-Goran

Eriksson was fired.

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said he believed City had not

given his former Man United teammate long enough to achieve

success.

“It is quite unbelievable,” he said. “You spend about seven

years studying to get your various UEFA badges, so you can apply

for a pro-licence. In the end you just think, what is the point?

You have to be given time. It is as simple as that.”