Hughes may face sack – even if City win today

Manager could go this weekend despite support from Tevez and Bruce

Mark Hughes heads into Manchester City's home match against Sunderland today with his job hanging by a thread. Even victory over Steve Bruce's side or messages of support from his Argentine striker Carlos Tevez are no guarantee that he will remain in his position.

The manager's hope of keeping his job now appear to rest solely with the Arab executives appointed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, with the Hughes camp of the view that chief executive Garry Cook and football administrator Brian Marwood are trying to remove him.

Tevez said that he was "100 per cent" behind his manager and that Hughes needed more time for the club to realise their vision of finishing sixth in the Premier League. "The reason why I joined [City] was because I believe in his vision... I support him 100 per cent because I believe that we have made a great deal of progress towards reaching our goal."

Even Bruce, his opponent in the dug-out today, said that City should be judging Hughes after a few years, not a few months. "Judging someone on just months in the job and one transfer window seems a bit harsh to me. You hate to see managers treated like that," Bruce said. "Surely clubs have to be better than that but who know with football theses days."

Neither Bruces's nor Tevez's views seem to be shared by the City hierarchy, however. Hughes's grip on his job is regarded as tenuous at best. Though it has been thought that he would have at least the next three games to prove himself – Stoke City at home and Wolves at Molineux follow – the manner of the 3-0 defeat at Tottenham on Wednesday has had a profound effect on the Welshman's standing. Sheikh Mansour's chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak moves quickly and significant developments this weekend cannot be ruled out. A "Plan B" is in place and it would be likely that any successor to Hughes would be appointed immediately.

There were no denials from City yesterday of reports that Cook might have approached Guus Hiddink's agent Cees Van Nieuwenhuizen, who was also quoted earlier this week as saying that Juventus had approached the Dutchman about the possibility of replacing Ciro Ferrara. But Cook, who had reportedly inquired as to Hiddink's intentions beyond next summer, speaks to many people in the game and Hiddink does not appear to be a part of any plan.

Though Jose Mourinho's name has repeatedly surfaced in connection with City, there are doubts that he is part of a future path for City, either. Rumours doing the rounds yesterday that Marwood might be about to take charge with academy director Brian Kidd alongside him are wide of the mark.

The target for the season appears to have changed since Hughes and Al Mubarak jointly declared on 20 May that sixth place was the aim. The level of summer spending was far more than anticipated – a response to transfer market conditions – and has raised the level of expectation. It is unclear whether Hughes has been told City must finish fourth, though that does seem a safe assumption.

Cook and the Arabs are believed to be uncertain how to view the achievements of the season so far. City have only lost twice, on one of those occasions in an unfortunate way to Manchester United, but they are behind Birmingham City in the Premier League and failing to beat Hull City, Burnley and others is dire for a manager who has had £240m to spend.

A convincing victory for City today might yet change a perspective which looked rosy after Shay Given's penalty save secured victory over Chelsea a mere two weeks ago. But Cook and his Arab employers will need a radical change and the prospect of Hughes wading back into the transfer market is unpalatable at a time when results are so poor.

If Hughes can get through what is his lowest point since previous City owner Thaksin Shinawatra hired him in June of last year, the pursuit of Matthew Upson for a position in central defence does appears to be a relatively straightforward task. West Ham's Upson and Scott Parker are both possible targets for City, with Joleon Lescott and Kolo Touré probably out until late January and Wayne Bridge struggling for form and fitness. Upson is the player Hammers manager Gianfranco Zola appears most likely to let go and the asking price could be close to £10m. Zola has been assured that the money his departure might raise would be reinvested in the squad, creating the opportunity to buy the striker and right-back he needs.

Hughes, meanwhile, was attempting to maintain a straight course yesterday. Neither Cook nor Marwood was understood to be at the club and Hughes led a team meeting to discuss the Tottenham game. His usual Friday press briefing did not take place, the manager having staged pre-planned interviews about the Sunderland game earlier in the week.

Names in the frame to replace Hughes

With money no object where a new manager is concerned, few names can be ruled out as a successor to Mark Hughes. Despite the conversations between the City chief executive, Garry Cook, and Guus Hiddink's agent, the Dutchman does not seem a prospect and it is hard to develop a feeling that Jose Mourinho could be for City either. A report yesterday that Arsène Wenger could be in the frame is intriguing but he has made his own views on the City "project" clear. Roberto Mancini has made no secret of his desire to manage in England since he was sacked as Internazionale coach last year – though City's Arab owners may desire Premier League experience.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam