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Home|Football News|EDITORIAL|January 2010

Soccerphile Editorial - January 2010

Hughes falls foul of foreign agenda

Soccer Editorial. Mark Hughes was on a hiding to nothing at Manchester City. The former Wales manager might have made a name for himself at the helm of unfashionable Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, but he was never a big enough personality to satisfy Sheikh Mansour and his cohorts.

Thus it was no great surprise to see Roberto Mancini offered the chance to end his managerial exile and take over at City, even if Hughes' recent record hardly merited the sack.

A foreign manager is a must-have for any self-respecting member of the nouveau riche, and Hughes always appeared to be warming the hot seat until a bigger name became available.

Taking over at City before the unfortunately named ‘Abu Dhabi United' consortium swept to power, Hughes was a convenient scapegoat, despite the fact that the Eastlands club lost just twice under his stewardship in the current league campaign.

Mancini may have been out of the game for eighteen months, but he will be well aware of the need to conjure immediate results at a City side looking to gatecrash the top four.

Mancini's arrival continues the trend of cashed-up English clubs favouring foreign coaches over home-grown talent.

Arsenal started the trend with the wildly successful recruitment of Arsene Wenger from Japanese football, and since then the likes of Jean Tigana, Juande Ramos and Jose Mourinho have all graced the English game with varying degrees of success.

Mancini now joins the likes of Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Gianfranco Zola and more recent arrivals Roberto Martinez, Carlo Ancelotti and Avram Grant as a member of the Premier League's foreign contingent, and the pressure is well and truly on the former Inter tactician to bring his title-winning form to the City of Manchester Stadium.

Never mind that Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson is the Premier League's most successful manager, many English clubs now see the continental style as the way go - including those further down the football pyramid.

When a Middle Eastern consortium took over League Two side Notts County last October, their first point of business was to install former England coach Sven-Göran Eriksson as Director of Football, with fellow Swede Hans Backe taking over as manager.

That arrangement was short-lived as controversy dogged the investors throughout their brief reign, with Backe exiting after just three weeks citing unpaid wages.

The problem for clubs looking to transplant continental glamour onto the English game is that tactical acumen and a well tailored suit don't always suffice in the cut-and-thrust world of English football.

Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers might now be one of the richest clubs on the planet, but high-profile foreign managers Luigi Di Canio and Paulo Sousa quickly discovered that with cash flow comes an unbearable weight of expectation.

Mancini has at least got off to a winning start in his City career, as he looks to end the hegemony of city rivals United, Liverpool and London clubs Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League's perennial top four.

Should City fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, questions will be asked of why Sheikh Mansour and his co-investors felt it necessary to terminate the services of the relatively popular Hughes.

His failure to steer City to the top of the Premier League table may have been predictable, but unfortunately for the Welshman it came at a time when foreign managers are currently all the rage.

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