Under-fire Mark Hughes estimates it will take the arrival of five more players this month to ensure Manchester City remain competitive in the Premier League. Hughes has wasted little time in stamping City's intentions on the transfer market by signing Wayne Bridge from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. At precisely 2.55pm on Saturday, the England defender waved to the City faithful, clearly delighted at his career choice.
A couple of hours later he could be forgiven having second thoughts following a shambolic 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest which condemned City to a second domestic cup exit against lower league opposition this season, following a similarly embarrassing loss to Brighton in September. Hughes can only hope the unequivocal backing he has so far received from City's owners remains intact. Still, if there is no wavering, Hughes will spend the next month on a mission to improve, if not to his total satisfaction then at least to a point where he can be held directly responsible for a shambles like the one against Forest. "We need more players," he said. "We have brought Wayne Bridge to the club but maybe we need five more to complement the ones we have.
"Bringing players in during January is not easy but it is evident to everybody that number is probably the minimum we need. "I recognise some of the players we would like to bring in are maybe unobtainable. But it is early yet and we will pursue targets we think will help us." The problem for Hughes is that an increasing number of City supporters have given their own verdict. Dubious about the Welshman to start with because he was so heavily associated with Manchester United as a player, they are less prepared to tolerate teething troubles and as the disgruntled masses headed for the exits there were plenty of home voices echoing the gleeful cries of Forest fans that Hughes will be getting "sacked in the morning".
The way City crumbled and Hughes' own assessment was pretty damning. "We have to match the workrate of the opposition. If you don't do that you won't win games no matter what level the opposition are at," he bemoaned. * PA Sport