Manchester City can be almost as inconsistent as Wigan sometimes. Whilst Hughes’ men are on their day one of the best sides in the league, they are also capable of the occasional horror show. Being a City fan must be both exciting and frustrating as you never know which Eastlands side are going to turn up. The recent game against Bolton for example, typified City’s Jekyll and Hyde character. They are capable of producing unrivalled flowing football, as shown by Micah Richards goal, yet you only have to look at their ‘against’ column in the league table to realise they often let the floodgates open. This is all good and well and as exciting a side they are to watch it is not the direction that City want to be heading in. So would Hughes’ men benefit from a bit of stability?
Many people have been pointing at City’s position in the league and calling for Hughes’ head. Fair enough. But who would replace him? I am a firm believer that there is no point in sacking a manager when things get a bit tough unless you have a solid replacement in mind and one who is ready to take the reins. No side benefits from confusion over the position of their manager, Newcastle’s last Premier League campaign will testify to this and there is hardly a crop of world class managers eagerly waiting to take the hot-seat at Eastlands, so is there really a great reward to be had from sacking Hughes?
Manchester City have had 13 managers in the time that their arch rivals Manchester United have had one, and we all know the difference in success the two have experienced in the last 20 years. City have been likened to Chelsea in the sense that their lavish riches are attempting to buy progression and possible success. The west London club enjoyed immense success under manager José Mourinho, most notably during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons in which they secured back to back titles for the first time in the clubs history. The fundamental aspect of Mourinho’s Chelsea side was stability. They prided themselves on being hard to beat as well as their flowing attacking moves. The fulcrum of the side was a rock solid backline, who famously broke records at the start of the 2005-06 season before finally being breached by Aston Villa’s Luke Moore. Manchester City would greatly benefit from some stability similar to that of Mourinho’s Chelsea yet it is something that doesn’t happen overnight.
Let us not forget that Mark Hughes took control of a side who had lost 7 of their last 12 games in the 2007-08 season, including a final day 8-1 hammering at Middlesbrough. Sven Goran Eriksson had known his time was up at Eastlands a long time before he was given his P45 and City spent the latter part of the season with a lacklustre attitude and negative philosophy. Hughes has had to implement a regime that has attempted to install order and stability into a squad full of egos. In Emmanuel Adebayor he has a striker who can be the most deadly in the world as well as Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy who work their socks off for the cause. He has made solid signings in Nigel De Jong, Gareth Barry and Shay Given and it is clear that stability is his main aim. The defence is a clear issue at Eastlands and in my opinion Joleon Lescott is the only member of the back four that are worthy of a team with such ambition, and even the former-Everton man has been underperforming this season. Hughes should make solid and proven defensive signings in January and if he does it could just be a matter of time until the real Manchester City stand up.
I am not saying that Hughes has done a great job, but these things take time. He is trying to send Manchester City in the right direction and there will be little to benefit from sacking him at this moment in time. Football fans are notoriously impatient but Hughes has only done half the job. It is worth letting the Welshman do the other half before throwing him to the lions and replacing him with another marginal manager who will bring City’s squad building back to square one.