Fayed issues furious response to Mark Hughes


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The Independent Football

The Fulham chairman, Mohamed al Fayed, yesterday issued a withering critique of the club's former manager, Mark Hughes, labelling the Welshman a "flop" and a "strange man" and questioning both his courage and ambition.

In a remarkable open letter published on the club's official website, Fayed excoriated the 47-year-old Welshman, insisting he did not even have the decency to offer a full explanation when he turned down a two-year contract extension at the last minute before walking out on Craven Cottage.

The retail magnate also moved to offer his support to Hughes's successor, Martin Jol, claiming he had wanted to appoint the Dutchman ahead of the former Manchester City coach last year and describing him as a "top" manager despite winning just one of his opening nine Premier League games.

Fayed wrote: "What a strange man Mark Hughes is. Sacked by Manchester City, he was becoming a forgotten man when I rescued him to become manager of Fulham. Even when results were bad, I did not put pressure on him. I gave him every support – financial, moral and personal.

"He fully negotiated a two-year extension to his contract. On the day he was due to sign, he walked out without the courtesy of a proper explanation. And now he insults the club, saying it lacks ambition.

"He is not just disrespectful but entirely wrong. Fulham has just announced plans for a splendid new riverside stand that will substantially increase the capacity of Craven Cottage.

"We shall endeavour to prosper without him simply because, when the challenge came, it was not the club but Mark Hughes who lacked the courage and ambition to take on the task of leadership. If people are looking for a flop, they only have to look no further than the man who has lost his spark."

The Egyptian's remarks serve as a furious response to comments made by Hughes in an interview with The Independent last weekend in which he suggested he was forced to leave Craven Cottage last summer – after just one season in charge – because the club refused to back his plans to turn Fulham into a top-10 side.

"The assumption was that I was jumping ship because I had another job to jump into," said Hughes, who was widely linked with Aston Villa prior to the appointment of Alex McLeish. "That was never the case. It was a point in time where I felt my ambition for where I wanted to take the club was not matched."