x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hughes is backed by board

The Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak has dismissed claims that the manager Mark Hughes is on his way out.

The Manchester City executive chairman Garry Cook, left, and the chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak look on during the team's loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
The Manchester City executive chairman Garry Cook, left, and the chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak look on during the team's loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Manchester // Mark Hughes is renowned as a battler. During his days as a player he never shirked a fight, and he is having to show the same strengths now as the manager of Manchester City. City are going through tough times, a 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur leaving them with just one win in seven Premier League games. But this season's Premier League has been the most competitive for some time and while the poor run has left City only a point above the relegation zone, they are also just five behind Everton in seventh place. Yet, with two of the newly promoted teams, Hull and Stoke, shaking up the league with spirited performances, there is no margin for error as City have found out. Losing Gelson Fernandes and Richard Dunne to red cards against Spurs did not help as a double from Darren Bent helped the Londoners overturn Robinho's opener. Some critics have now set their sights on Hughes, but he has the backing of the new owners, who are looking at the long-term future of the club. With new signings to come in January, the City manager will then be in a better position to be judged. The club's chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, told the official website: "We are calm and under control and we on the board have the highest regard for Mark. "While January is going to be an interesting opportunity for Mark to improve the team, this is an exciting dynasty we are building and we are only in the first two months. "I think people will see then that we have good foundations in place in the team, we have a good coach and that we will be upgrading in terms of players. Hopefully the results will come." The City midfielder Dietmar Hamann believes the effort the team showed after losing players should give them hope. "We matched them [Spurs] for most of the game, even with a man down, so we have to keep working and try as hard as we did against Spurs, especially in the second half," he said. "If we do that then the results will improve." Tottenham have already seen how footballing fortunes can change very quickly, the victory at City making it five games without defeat since Harry Redknapp took over from Juande Ramos, an about-turn that has eased the north London club out of the bottom three. Redknapp has inspired his new team, particularly the striker Darren Bent, who looks a man reborn and acknowledges the manager's role in his improved performances: "I think Harry is showing more belief in me than Juande did." That belief could earn him an England recall according to his teammate Ledley King, who said: "His finishing is superb and from my point of view he deserves his chance to play for England. It's no surprise what he is doing now. A year ago we had three other top strikers so his chances were limited, but he's always scored goals at this level. His record says that." akhan@thenational.ae