Sam Wallace: In betraying Hughes, City have opted for quick returns over lasting legacy

Stabbed in the back and left alone to take his medicine: the brutal disposal of Mark Hughes on Saturday night was as undignified and unpleasant a sacking as there has been in recent memory.

In the space of one afternoon, Manchester City became a very different club. The kind of club who leave their struggling manager marooned on the touchline while the news of his demise spreads around the stadium. The kind of club who allow their manager to absorb his own fate in the full glare of the television cameras while his successor has already been anointed.

Every step of the way on Saturday, City got it wrong. First, they made Hughes wait until after the win over Sunderland to learn his fate officially, although he, like everyone else, had known the truth for a lot longer.

Second, and with extraordinary crassness, City judged half-time as the ideal moment to disclose that there would be a 7.30pm "announcement" on Hughes' future just to ensure his humiliation was complete.

As for Hughes, he was so certain of what was coming that he took legal advice before the game and was told he was best served by carrying on until City sacked him. He should never have been put in that position as the delegation of City players protesting at his treatment pointed out.

No matter how you judge the merits of Hughes' record at City, or the arguments for and against keeping him, his sacking was a despicable affair, presided over by City's Garry Cook and Brian Marwood – perhaps the Brian Potter and Jerry St Clair of Premier League football executives. You would scarcely put them in charge of a working men's club in Bolton, let alone the wealthiest football club in the world.

Cook talked a lot of nonsense when he first joined City as chief executive and the sympathetic view was that he was just one more corporate drone who had mistaken his marketing manual for the basic tenets of civilisation. But it turns out that Cook is the kind of chief exec who does not just sack managers but hangs them out to dry. He has decided to skip today's press conference to introduce Mancini.

As for Marwood, no one is really sure what he does under the title of "football administrator", created because Hughes vetoed him being titled "director of football". But in the true tradition of directors of football everywhere – Avram Grant, Damien Comolli et al – he too has played a full role in the unseemly disposal of a manager without any of the equivalent scrutiny upon himself.

Hughes' end on Saturday night had echoes of the appallingly handled sacking of Martin Jol in 2007 when the Tottenham manager stood in his dugout during his final game against Getafe in the Uefa Cup as the news of his sacking spread around White Hart Lane. Then, as with City now, Spurs conspired to ensure that the man who was losing his job was the last to know.

When City drew with Hull last month, Hughes sought assurances from the board that the reports that said he was on his way out were not true. That was the time for the club to tell their manager that if results did not change then he would find himself in trouble. Sacking a manager is never easy but it has to be done quickly and honestly. Instead, they told him his job was safe, although that was evidently not the case.

In the past, City have occasionally been the authors of their own misfortune, but at least you knew where you stood with them. Before Thaksin Shinawatra bought the club, they had John Wardle, a chairman who was not blessed with the fortune of Sheikh Mansour but was a decent bloke who even managed an amicable parting with Kevin Keegan.

And what have City got themselves for the trouble? Mancini: a manager that most big clubs in Europe have looked at since his departure from Internazionale last year and decided that they could do better. He was the driving force in linking himself to Chelsea when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked but there was no real interest from the club. Not even Tottenham considered him as an alternative to Juande Ramos.

It has long been a personal view that, despite some undeniably bad results, Hughes deserved time at City because he was attempting to make profound changes at the club. Hughes was trying to rebuild from the bottom up, starting with the academy. He was embarking on the same difficult rebuilding job that Sir Alex Ferguson began 23 years ago at Manchester United and in order to do so he required time.

Now City have made the decision to rip it up and start again, although you would hazard a guess that Mancini is not going to spend too much time worrying about the youth teams. He is another manager who regards himself as primarily a coach and will probably see City as a springboard to a more glamorous club, rather than, as Hughes regarded it, an opportunity to build a new force in English football.

Last word to Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor, who both disgraced themselves against Spurs last week and were dropped by Hughes on Saturday. What did they learn this weekend? That when things go wrong it is the manager who cops it, not the stroppy, underperforming players. That is the kind of club City have become, one where the most important man of all, the manager, is also the most dispensable.

Gasquet case offers Chelsea ray of hope

The tennis player Richard Gasquet was exonerated by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a positive test for cocaine on the basis that he ingested it while kissing a woman who had been using. CAS will hear Chelsea's appeal over the Gaël Kakuta affair. Sounds like there may be hope for Chelsea yet.

Don't write off Scholes

Paul Scholes is one of the greatest players in the Premier League's history, so it was sad to see him struggle against Fulham on Saturday. But don't him write off, even at 35 he still has so much to offer Manchester United

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
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

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living