Hughes defiant over City slump

Discipline and a break from the past are key to progress, says City manager

Mark Hughes has defended Manchester City's descent into the relegation zone, declaring that he is seeking to change the fundamental culture of a club which had left it "nowhere near where it needed to be" to mount a realistic challenge in the Premier League.

Hughes, who believes his January signings will have an "almost immediate" impact and that his Arab owners will not sack him because, as he put it, "they are not as hysterical as other people seem to be at this moment in time," suggested before today's awkward encounter with Hull City that preparations for matches were too laid back when he arrived at the club from Blackburn Rovers in June.

"There's been big change here on and off the field and they were changes that needed to be made," Hughes said. "You can't just stand still and think that things you've done ten, 15 years ago are going to work ten, 15 years in the future. We needed to get up to speed... in terms of preparations for games and the way they prepared on a daily basis. We are addressing [this] on a daily basis."

Hughes' disciplinarian regime contrasts sharply with the brief Sven Goran Eriksson era and it is that which is understood to have caused friction with some of the players the new manager inherited. Hughes pulled no punches about what he feels he took on in east Manchester. "You can't play well for one week have two weeks off and build for another game in three weeks which has may have been the case in the past," he said. He also admitted that some of his players had not accepted his ways: "Some players can work with change and be able to change quickly other players find it very difficult, that's just human nature."

Two games in four days will reveal more about whether Hughes can pull off the huge task of changing the fundamental culture of his club whilst maintaining his Arab owners' faith that he – a man hired in the Thaksin Shinawtra era – is the man with whom to entrust their January transfer budget. Hughes might contend that after four managers in seven years at City something tougher is necessary.

He maintains a hard line against those who argue that talking up the promise of the transfer window is debilitating to the current squad and he does not appear to accept that his markedly negative talk about the Eriksson era – he dismissed City's good start to last season as something "everyone in football knew wasn't going to be sustainable" – will have a negative impact on Richard Dunne, Darius Vassell and others who contributed to it. "They are professional footballers and have to have the mentality that the club is going places," Hughes said.

It remains unclear whether Hughes is trying to force through change at a pace which might yet prove fatal, though he claimed the current state of City bears out what he has told the Arabs – "it's not as if I was telling them one thing two months ago and then telling them a different thing now," he said. But the Uefa Cup defeat in Santander eight days ago represented a new low, with Hughes' side shambolic and utterly at odds with each other.

Hughes, who said he has Robinho back today, rejects any talk of relegation fights, but he and his club's supporters will not care to be reminded that the last time they reached Boxing Day with 18 points was in 2000. The following May they were relegated.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
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

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
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
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before