Hughes: City can push for title

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.”