Club's reluctance to buy players is why I walked out on Fulham

Hughes believes his ambitions were not matched at the Cottage

When Mark Hughes walked away from Fulham on 1 June the assumption was that he had a new job lined up. But Hughes says that it was Fulham's reluctance to build on his eighth-place finish last season that convinced him he had to leave.

The 47-year-old looked a shoo-in to replace Gérard Houllier at Aston Villa but he says that was never on the cards. Instead he decided to take his chance on the job market with a record that includes a sixth-place finish with Blackburn in 2005-2006. At three clubs, Hughes has only once finished outside the top 10 and that was his first season at Blackburn, when he took over five games into the campaign.

In the run-up to 1 June, Hughes became aware that attempts to sign new players at Fulham were not progressing well. "I had given them a couple of names and I saw a slowing down of the process," he says. "They were saying 'We will do it' and 'We're speaking' and I read that as the fact that maybe they didn't want to do these deals. I read that that maybe they didn't want to keep the club in the top half of the Premier League which was my ambition. There was the date of 1 June and the closer it got, the less inclined I was to sign it [the contract] because it would have meant me committing further than the one year I had left. I was feeling real concerns in terms of age and the guys that would have to be replaced to keep the level the same. In the end I came to the conclusion it would be better just to shake hands and walk away."

The 1 June clause in Hughes' agreement with Fulham allowed both parties a 24-hour window in which to part company without any terms. Hughes admits he was fortunate to be sufficiently financially secure to take it. Having "compromised" at Manchester City, he was not prepared to do so again. "Fulham have been a team that is middle to lower. My view was that with a little bit of investment ... they could be middle to top half. Then you are playing games of significance for all the right reasons, not because you are in the shit and you need to get out, which is not an enjoyable experience. Yeah, it gets the emotions going but you don't want to be involved in all that. You want to be battling against the big boys.

"When I left Blackburn, my reputation was high. When I left City, I took a few knocks but in the end I think people realise I did a decent job there. I took a chance going to Fulham and I had to replicate what Roy [Hodgson] had done and he had done remarkably well. We turned it round after Christmas because of how I work and how my team works. So I restored my reputation by getting back up to eighth. But I just felt there was a danger that you go to the other end and you are perceived as another British manager. "British manager" seems to have a certain label to it that you are OK to keep teams in the Premier League and you are middle to average but nothing better than that."

Hughes has been taking intensive lessons to improve his Spanish. "Are you going to get the right job in Portugal or Spain?" he says. "No, you're not. But if you do have a go, there is not so much of a glass ceiling and you might get an opportunity to pick up a top club, which is more difficult here."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions