Former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes has been appointed manager of English Premier League club Manchester City.
|Manager Mark Hughes has left after four |
years in charge [GALLO/GETTY]
The club announced the appointment with the Wales coach replacing former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
As a player, Hughes was a striker with City's fierce crosstown rival Manchester United and considered a candidate to replace Alex Ferguson when he likely retires by the end of the 2010 season.
The powerful centerforward, affectionately dubbed "Sparky,'' was at Old Trafford for two spells spanning 10 years, scoring 163 times in 448 appearances sandwiched in between a less rewarding two years at FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
With United, Hughes won two English Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
The 44-year-old Hughes left Blackburn as coach after four years in charge after a compensation package was agreed on Tuesday, a day after Eriksson left the club after a season by mutual consent.
"I am delighted to welcome Mark on board,'' City chief executive Garry Cook said.
"In our view he is the brightest young manager in the game and he was our number one target for the manager's job.''
City owner Thaksin Shinawtra admitted he acted ruthlessly in dumping coach Eriksson.
"These are exciting times for Manchester City and I hope the supporters can understand that I share their goals,'' the former Thai prime minister was quoted as saying in English newspaper the Daily Mail.
"That sometimes means making ruthless decisions.''
Hughes played 72 matches for Wales and coached the side after his international retirement in 1999.
He left in 2004 to move into club management at Blackburn, transforming them from relegation candidates into a side that twice qualified for the Uefa Cup through top-six finishes in the Premier League.
Hughes delivered three semifinals, but lost twice in the FA Cup and once in the League Cup.
"We have enjoyed a first-class, mutually beneficial relationship with Mark,'' Blackburn chairman John William said.
"He leaves the club in a strong position with three consecutive top 10 finishes and an excellent squad of players.
"In turn, we have helped Mark to establish himself as one of the most sought-after young British managers in the business, having previously had no club management experience.''
Ancelotti rejects Chelsea
Meanwhile, AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has insisted he is not joining Chelsea.
The Premier League club also quashed reports that a deal had been reached with Ancelotti's advisers.
Italian news agency ANSA said the 48-year-old Ancelotti left a meeting Tuesday with Milan vice president Adriano Galliani telling reporters that he is "150 percent'' not leaving the club he has led to two Champions League trophies.
"I will stay in AC Milan for sure and for many seasons to come,'' the Italian coach was quoted as saying.
"I have not spoken to anyone at Chelsea.''
Avram Grant was fired by Chelsea last month, days after losing the Champions League final to Manchester United.
Chelsea issued a statement saying it "has not reached (an) agreement with any individual to become manager, nor have we sought permission from any organization to talk to their manager."
The club added that it is "extremely happy" with the way its coaching search is going.