Hughes confirms Fulham exit

The Welshman, who is the bookies’ favourite to succeed Gerard

Houllier at Aston Villa, had been in charge of the west London

outfit for just one season. It is bound to lead to speculation that

Hughes will now take over the vacant manager’s job at Aston Villa

Park. However, the Welshman insists he has neither been approached

or approached any other club. Hughes said: “I hope the supporters

and all those connected with the club will understand I wish to

move on to further my experiences. “I would also like to take this

opportunity to clarify that neither myself nor my representative

have approached or have been approached by another club. “This

decision to leave Fulham has not been influenced by any outside

party.” The 47-year-old did well in his first season with Fulham,

guiding the club to an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League

and earning them a return to Europe via the Fair Play League. He

also built on a reputation initially forged at Blackburn and then

Manchester City, where many felt he was unlucky to lose his job. As

it was not thought Hughes was under any pressure from Mohamed Al

Fayed, it would appear a bold move to leave without having

something else lined up. He had been installed as favourite to

replace Houllier at Villa, although other names have come into the

frame. Nevertheless, Hughes’ CV would pick him out as a suitable

candidate for Villa, and a job would be regarded as a step up from

Fulham if that is where Hughes eventually ends up. He said: “I

would like to thank the chairman, directors, players and fans of

Fulham Football Club for their support over the last 12 months and

wish them every success in the future. “I believe my management

team and I have done a good job and the club has a strong

foundation from which they can go forward. “I have especially

enjoyed our excellent relationship with the chairman and chief

executive (Alastair Mackintosh). “I sincerely wish Fulham a

successful campaign in the Europa League next season and for their

continued progress on and off the field.” The Cottagers

acknowledged the development in a statement. It read: “Fulham

Football Club can confirm that Mark Hughes has provided notice,

under the terms of his contract, to leave the club at the end of

June. “After discussions with Mark the club has agreed to accept

this notice.”