Agent: Hughes’ timing ‘unfortunate’

Mark Hughes’ agent has denied the former Fulham boss resigned from Craven Cottage to pursue vacant positions at Chelsea and Aston Villa.Hughes stunned Fulham by opting against signing a new contract at the club this week, prompting rumours of a move to English Premier League rivals Villa.

The Villans are without a manager after Gerard Houllier’s health concerns sent him to an early retirement, while Chelsea are also in the market after dumping Carlo Ancelotti.

But Hughes’ agent Kia Joorabchian insisted the vacancies in England are merely a coincidence, saying the former Fulham boss simply felt the time was right to bid farewell to the London club.

“As a manager he has ambitions to really compete at the top level and be the best he can,” Joorabchian told the BBC’s Radio 5.

“(Fulham) are where they are. They are a great top-10, mid-table club and I think Mark really wants to be right up there competing in the Champions League positions, up there competing for titles. He’d like to win some cups.”

“(The timing) was an unfortunate circumstance. The timing of the situation was such there were a couple of vacancies available.”

“It had nothing to do with it whatsoever. You all realise Mark Hughes is a sincere man. He wouldn’t do that.”

“He sat down and thought about it and thought if he signs a two-year contract now and they go and buy players in the transfer market, but all the time looking over his shoulder thinking, ‘well if a bigger job comes along’, a top-four club or maybe a place in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy that allows him to compete then he’d be sort of keen to move and that would be unfair to Fulham.”

“He wanted to tell them and give them plenty of time. There was no better time to do so than at the end of the season.”

“This has nothing to do with Aston Villa or Chelsea or any other club.”

Asked if Hughes could be headed for Stamford Bridge, where he spent three seasons as a player, Joorabchian said: “There’s a vacancy there but I’m sure they have their own planning.”

“We have not spoken to them. They have not spoken to us.”

“It’s a club he has played for so he knows the club well but it would be disrespectful of us to say ‘yes, we’d like to go there’ or here or whatever.”

“It’s a case of Mark sitting on the sidelines and seeing what opportunities there will be throughout Europe.”