Two managerial vacancies have become available at two high-profile Premiership clubs in the space of two weeks. You would struggle to find a manager out there who would be tempted by the idea of managing Aston Villa or Chelsea, but you would also struggle to find a manager out there who would risk giving up a comfortable role in the hope of landing a job at a top club. But that’s exactly what Mark Hughes has just done.
In one of the most surprising departures in recent seasons, Hughes walked out as manager of Fulham on Thursday after less than one in year in charge at Craven Cottage. His resignation prompted massive speculation that he was on the way to take charge at Aston Villa following the departure of Gerard Houllier, but since then, Hughes and his agent, Kia Joorabchian, have both publicly stated that his decision to leave Fulham was in no way related to the vacancies at both Villa and Chelsea. His decision was purely based on the fact that he wanted to further his managerial experience at a bigger club.
With Hughes now voluntarily out of a job and no guarantee of a swift appointment elsewhere, it would be difficult not to question his motives? Undoubtedly Hughes will still feel a strong sense of resentment following his dismissal as manager of Manchester City in December 2009. Having been replaced by Roberto Mancini, a manager with considerably more experience, Hughes’ would have set his sights on one day being in a similar position to Mancini and taking charge of a top 4 side.
With this in mind, one can sympathise with Hughes wanting bigger and better things. But walking out on Fulham with the assumption that he will automatically find a job elsewhere seems very naive and a little bit arrogant. Hughes’ biggest success as a manager to date was winning the League Cup with Blackburn back in 2002. Since then, his achievements have been minimal and at 47, he is still a young manager and does not quite have the credentials to take on any of the top 4 teams.
His actions have also demonstrated a complete lack of respect and loyalty to Fulham. Under Hughes, Fulham got off to a shaky start, yet they stuck by him and ended up having a fantastic season, finishing in 8th place and earning a position in next season’s Europa League. There was some talk that contract negotiations had broken down and his relationship with owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, had strained in recent weeks, but the rumours were not strong enough to encourage Hughes to walk out of the club. Hughes would have been much more suited to sticking with the club and helping them develop into a bigger and better team.
If any of the top 4 clubs had shown an interest in appointing Hughes as manager, they may now air on the side of caution. There is speculation that he could team up with Guus Hiddink at Chelsea. If this turns out to be true, the combination of the two managers could result in a formidable partnership. But if not, then Hughes’ incredibly risky actions will have backfired. His ego would result in an uncertain future and he would only have himself to blame.
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