Soccerphile Editorial - January 2010
Hughes falls foul of foreign agenda
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
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
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
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
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
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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