Hughes given 'mandate' to guide City to new level

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The Independent Football

Manchester City did their best to end speculation about the future of Mark Hughes as manager yesterday when the club's owner, Sheikh Mansour al Nahyan, stressed he has an "absolute mandate" for the long-term development of the team.

Three successive Premier League defeats, including Sunday's dispiriting 2-1 home loss against Tottenham during which they had two players dismissed, have seen City slip to 13th in the table and led to rumours of discontent within the squad. However, Hughes emerged from talks in Abu Dhabi yesterday with his position seemingly strengthened.

"Mark shared with me his plans for how the team should be developed," said Sheikh Mansour, who had a two-hour meeting with Hughes, City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak and executive chairman Garry Cook. "His strategy is compelling and he has my absolute mandate to implement his plans to evolve this team in the right way over the short, medium and long terms."

Hughes only took over at Eastlands in June, but the arrival of Sheikh Mansour and his company Abu Dhabi United Group led to a change of strategy, with City showing their intent to compete among the elite by signing Robinho for £32.5million in the last transfer window. Hughes can now expect to oversee further high-profile arrivals in January.

"I find that both Mark and Garry share an ambition for success and the enthusiasm and capability to deliver on that ambition," added Sheikh Mansour. "I'm delighted at the potential for both men to positively impact the evolution of Manchester City in its entirety. I fully endorse the plans approved by the board that Khaldoon, Mark and Garry shared with me. They reflect our shared aim of seeing City evolve to become a significant force in the world of football.

"Importantly, we see that evolution being on every level and borne out of a sustainable approach that has its foundations in the club's academy; its fans and the relationship with the Manchester community."

Mubarak added that they intend to get together every few months to maintain discussions about the club, which may or may not infuse Hughes with confidence.

Earlier Hughes had called for an end to talk of a crisis at City. "At the moment, it is all a little bit hysterical, you have to say. People will have to calm down a bit," he said. "But we will get points on the board because of the quality we have in the squad. Everyone understands that it is a very exciting time for us. The chairman knows where we are and where we want to go.

"Ideally, of course, we would much prefer to have had positive results in the last couple of games but the quality of football that we have produced has been good and there have been few occasions when I have been disappointed at what we have produced.

"There will always be disappointment if you do not win but the chairman and everyone involved know that great sides are not built overnight."

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