Steve Tongue: Celebrity signings must share blame for shabby dismissal

"Some might say," the banner at Eastlands read yesterday, quoting Manchester City fans Oasis, "we will find a brighter day". Many more will say, after the shabby sacking of Mark Hughes, that they do not deserve to.

It is too much to expect that owners with no background in English football or any other kind should feel shame at dismissing a manager who has lost fewer games than any other this season in what is generally regarded as the toughest League in the world. That, and his replacement by the watching Roberto Mancini after 18 months in the job, merely confirm two of the worst trends in the domestic game: importing the short-termism that afflicts coaches in Italy and Spain, where two years in the same job virtually qualifies for a long-service award; and the obsession with celebrity "big names", preferably foreign ones.

What can only be hoped is that there are City players staring at either the mirror or their pay-slip this morning and asking about their own contribution. Yesterday Hughes displayed the ruthlessness he might have shown earlier by dropping Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor, two players acquired at a cost of £59m in transfer fees alone, whose performances at Tottenham on Wednesday night were a disgrace. If the writing was on the wall for the manager when his strikers failed to take sufficient chances and his almost equally expensive (and well-paid) defenders made regular errors during the recent series of seven successive draws, the letters only became screaming capitals and then shrieking headlines at White Hart Lane. Less than a fortnight after deservedly beating the League leaders Chelsea, City were as limp as they had been vibrant 11 days earlier.

But to sit directly behind the crowded ranks of City coaches, substitutes and support staff – one of whom, a little-known "technical director" was even in the second row of the press box – was to observe the essential powerless of any man other than those on the far side of the white line. What could Hughes do other than throw up his arms as Spurs were allowed to play a short corner with two men against one defender, no team-mate having the wit to even up the numbers? Any self-respecting coach in the local park today would expect his players to react more sharply. Making exaggerated arm movements to suggest that Adebayor might consider breaking into a trot from time to time had no effect, while Robinho showed his team spirit after being substituted by disappearing straight down the tunnel.

Does this mean they were the wrong players to sign; or perhaps that even Hughes had fallen prey to the culture of celebrity signings encouraged by those at the club who seemed to take it as a personal affront when Kaka declined an invitation to join the circus?

Some might say the brighter day is a step closer this morning. Others will say that 19 December was a bad day not merely for Manchester City but for football itself.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering