MH: City spell toughened me up
Hughes was fired by City 11 months ago when he failed to deliver the points quota demanded by the new owners following the takeover at Eastlands by Sheikh Mansour. On Sunday Hughes pitches his Fulham team against his old side at Craven Cottage admitting that his first brush with failure in football had been a sobering experience. Hughes said: "It was the first time I had been out of work ever, so it was difficult to take. "Initially there was a sense of relief that I was out of the madness for a little while, then you close the door on it and move on. "You review your performance and say 'Could you have done any better?' and under the circumstances I don't think I could have done. The overriding feeling was disappointment." However, Hughes insists his City experience has made his already teak-tough character even stronger. He added: "It's the old adage, you're not a proper manager until you get sacked." City are currently fourth in the Premier League, two positions above where they were when Hughes departed following a 4-3 home win against Sunderland. There are those who believe successor Roberto Mancini was installed with indecent haste and in a way which disrespected Hughes, although the Welshman does not believe that he was handed an impossible job by the City owners. He said: "I felt the targets were attainable that year. Expectations around Manchester City at the moment are off the scale. I understood that. "Every day they were edging up the scale and you had to go with it and deal with it. "In many ways Fulham is in a far better position than Manchester City was when I walked through the door. That's credit to what has been in place here. "I got bogged down (at City) trying to address areas of the footballing operation which weren't up to standard. "There's a different feeling here. They (the Fulham board) understand what it takes to be successful in the Premier League and everybody's pushing in the right direction." So does he have any sympathy for the criticism Mancini has received? "Sympathy? No, we all know what the job entails," added Hughes, who believes City will win the Premier League title in the next few years if they stay patient. "I went to City because I wanted to test myself on a bigger stage. In the end it became difficult for me to progress but it was a good experience. There are good people there." Hughes has a strong squad to choose from for tomorrow's match with Mexican defender Carlos Salcido returning ahead of schedule after ankle ligament damage and defender Chris Baird also back in contention after missing two weeks with a thigh tear. The only casualty is striker Moussa Dembele, who has aggravated an ankle injury. Hughes would like nothing better than to make life difficult for his former club, although he admits to learning vital lessons in his two seasons at the club. He said: "The key thing is that you have to engage people, you have to bring them with you. You can't run too quickly. If you don't engage people quickly they will fight against you. "I went in (to City) and thought there were a lot of things wrong. I thought by changing them quickly people would understand what I was doing but a lot of them resented it. You have to engage people first before you can take them forward. "We want to be an estabished top 10 Premier League club and that would be some achievement for Fulham. We've got a business model that is sustainable for Fulham. "Is Manchester City's sustainable? I'm not so sure that it is. "But football changes on a daily, hourly basis. Things can change very quickly, as I found when I went there."