x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Heat gets turned up on Cook

It has been a incredible week for Manchester City and how they are supporting their under-fire chief executive in light of recent reports that he mislead fans.

Garry Cook, right, alongside Roberto Mancini, at the Italian's official unveiling as the club's new manager earlier this week.
Garry Cook, right, alongside Roberto Mancini, at the Italian's official unveiling as the club's new manager earlier this week.

Ever since last September's announcement that Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed had bought Manchester City and smashed the British transfer record to sign Robinho from Real Madrid, things have been hectic at Eastlands. But even for a club who overnight attained worldwide recognition and interest, the last week has been remarkable. It began last Saturday morning. Rumours spread that manager Mark Hughes was on his way out with Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho emerging as the main candidates to replace him.

An hour or so later, Roberto Mancini, the suave Italian, was made favourite and as soon as the club chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, flew into Manchester from Abu Dhabi just before noon UK time, it was clear all was not looking well for Hughes. The Welshman took charge of the team for the 4-3 win over Sunderland, but was dismissed immediately afterwards with former Inter Milan coach Mancini unveiled as the new man in charge days later.

The departing boss and his backroom team have since portrayed themselves as having been stabbed in the back and were adamant they had successfully been working towards a top six Premier League finish. The hierarchy, it was claimed, had been plotting all along to get rid of them. The British media are on the side of Hughes, while Garry Cook, the chief executive, is the man they blame. Accused of lying to the fans and of plotting to get rid of Hughes, there is no doubt Cook is feeling the pressure like never before.

But it is understood that the club will indeed stand by their man and that rumours of a replacement being unveiled are "ridiculous". The board have also been incensed by some newspaper reports suggesting City's Abu Dhabi owners sacked Hughes because they failed to understand the basics of running a football franchise. The club have gone so far as to ban newspaper journalists from their training ground, believing the players may be unsettled by the negative headlines, and released a statement to combat misleading reports.

"Garry Cook and new manager Roberto Mancini together took to the stage to give journalists and, more importantly, our fans the complete picture of the events of the past few days and weeks," read a statement from the club. "The outcome was characterised in a way [that] has suggested the football club and Garry Cook has lied to its fans. Manchester City would like to point out that this is absolutely not the case."

The statement makes clear that Cook made known during Monday's press conference that "the decision to look at managerial options was taken only three weeks ago after the Hull game, but I think it is important for people to know that Roberto was only offered the job after the Spurs game; we negotiated on Thursday and finalised his agreement on Friday". Mancini, when questioned on when he was first contacted by the club, replied: "Two weeks ago, I met Khaldoon for the first time. But they called me the day after the Tottenham game. Not before."

The recent statement adds: "In light of the fact that both Garry Cook's and Roberto Mancini's responses are consistent, it is with some surprise that we and our fans read some [recent] report[s]." Meanwhile, Nedum Onuoha has intensified Mancini's immediate concerns about City's injury list by being ruled out for up to four weeks ahead of tomorrow's home clash with Stoke. He will join defensive partner Joleon Lescott on the sidelines, while Shaun Wright-Phillips and Emmanuel Adebayor remain doubts.

"You cannot win games without scoring goals and my teams in Italy never played for 0-0 draws, but it is important to defend well too," Mancini, 45, said ahead of the hectic holiday programme, which sees them travel to Wolves on Monday. Brazilian defender Sylvinho, who was given a torrid time by Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon in their pivotal 3-0 defeat at White hart Lane, has revealed he has already pushed Hughes's shock departure to the back of his mind.

"Sometimes these things happen when you are talking about football at this level and as a player you have to be prepared to adapt quickly," said the former Barcelona left-back. "We can't be thinking about Hughes. Football changes too quickly. As a professional, you have to work hard for the new coach because you know that in a few days you have another important game, and you must prepare properly."

Mancini has already put the players through their paces, organising double training sessions in a bid to cut out defensive mistakes that have seen the club concede three goals in each of their past three games. Sylvinho, though, is adamant the Italian coach "doesn't just concentrate on the defence". "Yes, he is tactical, the Italian League is one of the best in the world," he said. "He will try to make the team safe, but he wants to get all the positions correct. He will be good for us."