Hughes comes to defence of Bridge

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes has launched a passionate defence of Wayne Bridge after his vicious Match of the Day caning by Alan Hansen.

The former Liverpool star and now respected pundit ridiculed Bridge's performance against Burnley on Saturday, blaming the full-back for two of the Clarets goals as they held City to a 3-3 draw at Eastlands to pick up their first away point of the season.

At one point Hansen said Bridge was so bad "I almost felt sorry for him".

It left Hughes to question just how much football Hansen actually watches.

"Pundits on Match of the Day or whatever just have an opportunity to nail individuals in the public domain," said the Manchester City boss.

"But we are not going to do. We look to analyse our mistakes and make sure, in future, we are better in similar situations.

"I am sure that their process involves looking at incidents in games, but not taking it as a whole.

"That is the role in life that they have decided to follow and that is the way it has to be. But there is a frustration when they don't go into particularly in-depth analysis.

"I would question how many games they actually watch live, from the start to the conclusion of games."

It could hardly be argued Bridge enhanced his reputation at the weekend, although his performance did not prevent him getting picked in Fabio Capello's England squad for Saturday's friendly with Qatar, when, with Ashley Cole ruled out, he might well start.

However, Hughes is convinced the £12million defender will eventually prove what a top class player he is.

"Wayne is an experienced player who has won Premier League titles and been part of teams that have been at the top end. He understands what it is all about," said Hughes.

"At times, individuals will make decisions that affect the team and sometimes you have to hold your hand up. But he will be fine."

Hughes had record signing Robinho and fellow striker Craig Bellamy in the squad that landed in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Bellamy was a surprise inclusion after withdrawing from the Wales squad to face Scotland in order to nurse a knee injury that Hughes feels will restrict him to competitive internationals in future.

Robinho is still out with an ankle injury, so he will not be involved against the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, the centrepiece of City's five-day trip to the home of their owners.

It adds some much-needed stardust given the number of absences as City step up their quest to become the region's most popular club.

"We hope to become the club of choice for the people of Abu Dhabi and make them proud of the football we play in the same way we aim to do with our supporters in Manchester," said Hughes.

"Our main focus is to train, play the game and win, but we will go there representing Manchester City, which is a big honour.

"We will make ourselves accessible during the week and we will make sure everybody appreciates how we feel about playing and working for a great club."