x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Aston Villa link played down as Hughes leaves Fulham

Fulham manager leaves after his 12-month contract came to an end, heightening speculation he will take up the vacant position at Aston Villa.

Mark Hughes confirmed last night that he has left his post as Fulham manager after his 12-month contract came to an end, heightening speculation he will take up the vacant position at Aston Villa.

The Welshman had been in charge of the west London side for just one season.

However, the former Manchester United, Barcelona and Wales striker last night said that he had not received an approach from any rival club.

"I hope the supporters and all those connected with the club will understand I wish to move on to further my experiences," he said.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that neither myself nor my representative have approached or have been approached by another club.

"This decision to leave Fulham has not been influenced by any outside party."

The 47-year-old former Manchester City manager did well in his first season with Fulham, guiding the club to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League and earning them a return to the Europa League, where they reached the final in 2010, via the Fair Play League.

Hughes was not thought to be under any pressure from Mohamed al Fayed, the Fulham chairman. Thus, it would appear a bold move to leave without another job lined up.

He had been installed as favourite to replace Gerard Houllier at Villa, who left the Midlands club on Wednesday because of health problems.

Hughes's CV would seem to suggest him as a suitable candidate for Villa - he has a reputation for getting his teams to play well against bigger clubs.

Also, the Villa job would be regarded as a step up from Fulham, if that is where he eventually ends up.