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City owners 'moved the goalposts'
Angry reaction to Hughes sacking in England as foreign owners accused of impatience.
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2009 13:54 GMT

Bevan says Hughes did not know he would be sacked as his successor looked on [AFP]
Manchester City's Emirati owners have been accused of "moving the goalposts" after manager Mark Hughes was sacked immediately after his side's 4-3 English Premier League win over Sunderland.

The victory, which moved City into sixth place with only two defeats all season, was not enough to save the Welshman, who was replaced by former Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini on Saturday.

On Sunday it was alleged that Hughes did not know he would be fired until after the match, which was watched by Mancini from the stands – and that a brigade of City players tried to remonstrate with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak over the decision.

League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan said on Sunday that foreign owners needed to "embrace the city and supporters and not just trophy cabinets".

And Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp said rich owners "couldn't handle it" if they were unable to buy instant success.

Hughes spent $186.4 million on six major signings in his 18 months in charge at Eastlands but a series of draws stymied an early-season charge to the top of the table this year.

Not honoured

Bevan warned of further sackings elsewhere in the league while suggesting City's Abu Dhabi-based owners had not honoured targets set for the team at the start of the season.

Big-spending City, the world's richest club since last year's takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, have won only two of their last 11 league games.

"I spoke to Mark last night and he found out immediately after the game when he was called into a meeting and informed that his contract was being terminated," Bevan told BBC radio.

"I think owners must realise, particularly overseas owners, that they can't just buy trophies in one season"

League Managers CEO Richard Bevan

"But I think the decision had probably been taken some time ago.

"He knew that there were key goals he had to hit and his target was the top six. He was very disappointed because they were on target for that ... to me it looks like the goalposts were moved.

"I think owners must realise, particularly overseas owners, that they can't just buy trophies in one season.

"If they feel that, then we will continue with the sackings and we will continue with affinity lost to our clubs in England.

"I'm pretty sure the Manchester City fans will be very sad to see Mark go.

"If you come in as an overseas owner, you need to embrace the city, the supporters and not just the trophy cabinet."

Sunday newspapers reported that a group of players led by Irish goalkeeper Given had tried to confront Al Mubarak over the decision after the match.

Landscape changed

Half of England's 20 Premier League clubs have foreign owners and Spurs boss Redknapp said the landscape had changed.

"It is different now," he told the BBC.

City chairman Al Mubarak is accused of losing patience too quickly [GALLO/GETTY]
"You have got multi, multi-millionaire owners who all want to be number one.

"In their lives they have made so much money and they do what they want with their lives, they are so rich, and they all expect to win.

"The more that come in, the more you are going to see managers come and go. The merry-go-round will be even worse because they will all be disappointed they are not top of the league.

"They won't understand it."

Hughes was the Premier League's second managerial casualty of the season after Portsmouth's Paul Hart was sacked by that struggling club's Middle Eastern owners.

Hart has since joined Championship (second division) Queens Park Rangers, whose owners include Italian former Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore.

They have now had 11 full-time or temporary managers since 2006.

Redknapp said he felt Hughes had not been given enough time.

"I couldn't believe it really, I'm disappointed," he said.

"Two defeats is certainly not a disaster and they've got a game in hand and were sitting just off the European places. I'm surprised that they have taken that decision at this stage in the season.

"Mark's a good manager and given time there's no doubt that they would have been very successful."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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