Santa Cruz helps Hughes put on brave face
City manager presents £17m striker as frustrations over Eto'o deal start to show, writes Ian Herbert
Thursday 02 July 2009
"It's really important that when you bring players into a club you know what they are like as characters and what they will bring to the group as a whole." Those were the words of Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, yesterday as he described the value of Roque Santa Cruz, the £17m new signing sitting to his left in a conference room inside City's stadium. If only Hughes could have said the same of Samuel Eto'o.
He was none the wiser as to whether the Cameroonian was willing to budge on his demands for a £12m cut of his transfer fee, as well as wages of up to £200,000 a week, in order to sign for City. "That has to be resolved by the player and the club he's at. Patience has been mentioned and we'll have to be patient," Hughes said. "If we get to a point where we feel things aren't going to happen and we feel the process is stalling and we can't move it forward, then that's the time we walk away and we've done that in the past."
Hughes' instincts should have told him that his patience is worth saving for worthier targets. Asked if a player moving to City should care for the mission, as well as the money on offer, Hughes related how he, aged 31 in 1995, had taken the same a leap of faith City are asking the Barcelona striker to make now – by joining a Chelsea side which had not won a trophy in 24 years. It was, Hughes said, "the chance to be part of something right from the beginning," and the FA Cup and Uefa Cup trophies Chelsea collected within three years were "something I really enjoyed".
On the field, Eto'o is a worker, just like Hughes. The problem is that he just does not seem to harbour any of the appetite for City that Hughes once had for Chelsea. The latest soundings from Spain are that he would take less than the wages City are offering to sign for Manchester United.
Santa Cruz is a different story. Such was the Paraguayan's determination to be prepared for his long-awaited move from Blackburn Rovers, where Hughes signed him from Bayern Munich two years ago, that he underwent surgery to clean loose bone from his troublesome knee in April. Some at Ewood Park were less than delighted since Rovers were deep in the throes of a relegation battle at the time. "I would have done long-term damage my knee if I'd carried on playing," Santa Cruz insisted yesterday.
The striker does not have such a high opinion of his own worth as Eto'o. Though Hughes referred to the player's time at Bayern as evidence of "a mentality to understand what it's like to be at a big club and the expectation that entails," he neglected to say that he rescued Santa Cruz from the sidelines there. Now Hughes is offering another new horizon.
Santa Cruz volunteered yesterday that Hughes does need not to sign Eto'o or Carlos Tevez to secure a top four finish in the Premier League next season. "With the players we have in the squad already the challenge will be to get in the top four anyway," he said. Hughes is not so confident of that time frame. He needs players – and Eto'o is not among them – who have the virtue of patience which he is preaching.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal offloads fringe players as he looks to the long term
Loic Remy joins Chelsea: Striker adds artillery to Diego Costa's firepower
Leicester vs Arsenal player ratings: Who was the star man? Wes Morgan? Leonard Ulloa? Alexis Sanchez?
Tottenham to offer Andros Townsend to Southampton in £14m deadline day bid for Jay Rodriguez
Tottenham vs Liverpool player ratings: Who was the star man? Raheem Sterling? Alberto Moreno? Or new-boy Mario Balotelli?
- 1 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Isis terror threat: Leading British Muslims issue fatwa condemning terror group
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward