Transfer planning never stops says Hughes

Mark Hughes' planning for the January transfer window began virtually the day after the summer one shut.

Manchester City spent £120million during the close season, starting with Gareth Barry and ending with the £24million purchase of Joleon Lescott from Everton, after which Hughes promised there would be no such sums invested in the future.

However, with his side beginning to stutter after their outstanding start to the season, Hughes may be tempted back into the market.

Both full-back positions have shown signs of vulnerability, with Wayne Bridge held up to public ridicule by Alan Hansen during Saturday's Match of the Day programme.

Hughes has already addressed the Hansen issue, adding another sideswipe yesterday by claiming: "When we go to work and perform invariably it is in front of thousands. If we don't do our jobs, it gives the opportunity for people to criticise when they have not put their heads over the parapet and tried it themselves."

However, he admits work is already under way to identify the targets who could provide the Blues with a handy mid-season boost.

"We start preparing for each transfer window almost immediately one closes," he said.

"That is a process that goes on right through the year.

"It is not something that starts a couple of weeks before the transfer window opens. It is an ongoing process."

City went through their paces at a new purpose-built training centre last night, a further sign of the commitment the club's new owners have to the Eastlands outfit.

As there is no stated plan in place, it is difficult to know exactly what the Abu Dhabi United Group want in return for their massive investment, which is approaching £500million so far with the promise of much more to come.

The idea they have committed themselves so heavily just because they can is a strange one, yet it cannot be entirely discounted, especially if it helps Abu Dhabi become the kind of tourist haven nearby Dubai has already turned into.

Certainly Hughes cannot see a point when City's new owners - who were brought to the club by Thaksin Shinawatra, perhaps the disgraced former Thailand Prime Minister's only contribution to the Eastlands cause that did not invite derision - become tired.

"It has been evident in the year that we have worked together that this is a long-term plan," he said.

"It is not going to happen overnight. The owners are very understanding of that.

"They are excited by how far we have progressed in a short space of time. But they know it is a long-term thing.

"We have put a platform in place to ensure we have success in future."

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