Richards must raise game, says Hughes
City manager admits his right-back's career has stalled after bright start
Saturday 24 October 2009
Mark Hughes has conceded that Micah Richards has plateaued as a player and currently has little chance of forcing his way into Fabio Capello's plans for South Africa next summer.
Richards' bulldozing runs in the No 2 shirt of England in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel at Wembley a little over two years ago seemed to have carved him out as Gary Neville's permanent successor but Richards has played only five times since for the national team, has not featured in Fabio Capello's plans and after Michael Owen tormented him in last month's Manchester derby he lost out to Pablo Zabaleta in the City right-back role.
Richards has another chance to demonstrate to Hughes against Fulham at Eastlands tomorrow that the question marks over his attitude in training and his struggle with positioning are behind him. Zabaleta is suspended after last Sunday's dismissal at Wigan Athletic but Hughes accepts that Richards is a distance short of fulfilling that early rich potential.
The manager suggested the 21-year-old has perhaps suffered from bursting onto the scene too soon and struggling to deal with the attendant acclaim. "I think at times people forget how young he is and he's still learning his trade," Hughes said. "He had a lot of success very early on in his career and sometimes for young players they feel that's how it's going to be all the time. There is always going to be a time when that judgment of you as a player plateaus out and people start looking at you with a more critical eye. That's what has happened to Micah at the moment, and obviously the profile of the club is higher as well so any perceived criticism of Micah gets highlighted a bit more. He is nowhere near where we know he can be in terms of realising that potential. It's a case of working with him and making sure he gets better."
It is a point that Sven Goran Eriksson also made about Richards though Hughes, with his more pronounced demand for a work ethic, has felt more frustrations with Richards who, for a time last season at least, seemed too concerned with spending time in the Carrington weights room.
Hughes acknowledged that Richards sometimes needs a word in his ear when his training lacks intensity. "If he's not running around on a daily basis then he gets reminded of that, but he's no different from anybody else in that respect." Though Glen Johnson, the current occupant of the England right-back berth, is by no means the complete defender either, Hughes believes the position is his for the World Cup. "It's difficult [for Micah] because it seems that the England squad, barring a few surprises at the end, looks pretty much set in stone," he said.
Hughes hopes to have his captain Kolo Touré back for tomorrow. Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy all returned to full training yesterday after knocks and Hughes hopes to have them all available.
Latest in Sport
Commonwealth Games 2014 Opening Ceremony: Ewan McGregor launches Unicef charity fundraiser, making £2.5m in one night
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid
Sami Khedira, Isco and Angel di Maria among Real Madrid players up for grabs this summer
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers (and giant cans of Irn Bru) welcome in Glasgow's Games
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
- 5 John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains