Hughes says Manchester City can still attract star names

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The Independent Online

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is confident his side's current predicament in the Barclays Premier League's bottom three will not damage his prospects of landing some top level targets when the January transfer window opens.

City are again expected to be the big spenders of English football when trading starts in the New Year with Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz among those widely expected to be on Hughes' wanted list.

And the City boss does not think prospective signings will be put off by a current run of just one win in nine league games which has seen his side slide into the drop zone.

Hughes said: "We have a project here and a football club that's in a time in its development that's very exciting and if players see an opportunity to come here we can offer them something that will stimulate them and allow them to progress.

"I think people are realistic about where we are in our development. What they will look at is where we are want to go and from a football point of view that's exciting for anybody.

"The fact is that at this moment we are not in a position would like to be but I think most people in football understand that's not where we anticipate being at the end of the year and as a consequence our ability to attract players won't be damaged."

Hughes has been given the backing of the club's overseas owners to press ahead with his recruitment plans and while he regards the rejuvenation of City as a long-term project, the former Wales national manager believes the infusion of new talent will bring about an instant improvement in results which should aid his job security.

Hughes, who denied having made a bid for Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra ahead of his move to Real Madrid, added: "We speak on a regular basis and we are looking ahead to the window and the players we think have a realistic opportunity of bringing to the club.

"When the window opens we will try and get those players in.

"We are going to turn it round. We are going to bring players in who will help the quality players we have here and when we do that then almost immediately there will be an upturn in fortunes."

According to Hughes, current expectation levels regarding City's status are unrealistic given their recent history as a team which was in the third tier of English football a decade ago and has since consistently flattered to deceive.

"Manchester City as a club and a team has never been able to have that capacity to win games on a regular basis. Where we are at the moment is where we have been for a number of years," he said.

However, the City boss does not believe that this team has a relegation fight on its hands.

He added: "We don't accept that. We are in a position that can be turned round very, very quickly and we certainly expect it to. Back-to-back wins can quickly move you into the top half of the table.

"That's what we anticipate will happen. We need to get wins under our belts and as soon as we do that we would like to think we will get in that top half and remain there for the remainder of the season.

"We are hurting somewhat but we have got games coming up that we think we can get back on track."

The first of those is at home to Hull on Boxing Day before Hughes takes on former club Blackburn at Ewood Park on Sunday.

City drew 2-2 at Hull last month after being pegged back by a deflected free-kick from Geovanni, who returns to face the club where he played last season.

"I didn't get the opportunity to work with him because he had gone before I came here but he has obviously had a real positive impact on the team and I'm sure they are delighted with the season as it has progressed for them," said Hughes, who will welcome back Robinho from injury.

"Almost half the season in they have impressed everybody. They have been brave against the top teams. They haven't shown any fear or apprehension so they deserve great credit for that."

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