West Ham consider Hughes should Zola fail

Former Manchester City manager could return as coach of Turkish national side
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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes is in the frame for a rapid return to football as manager of the Turkish national side, though West Ham's new owners also believe he could be the man to take over if Gianfranco Zola fails to persuade them he can move the club forward.

Upton Park's appreciation of Hughes pre-dates his departure from Manchester City. The prospect of him being an eventual successor to Zola was first touted in December, though there was no real expectation that he was about to be in the job market. David Sullivan, the new co-owner at West Ham, is backing Zola, though the club's failure to make inroads against weaker sides in the past few weeks has given rise to a growing sense of concern about the club's chances of Premier League survival. Hull City's 2-1 win over Roberto Mancini's Manchester City side, while West Ham lost at Burnley, has heightened anxieties.

Sullivan feels Hughes is his type of manager, though it remains to be seen whether he could afford to hire him. Draws against Blackburn and Portsmouth preceded Saturday's visit to Turf Moor, leaving Zola's side in trouble in the relegation zone.

In the meantime, Hughes' representatives have met with the Turkish Football Federation and are aware of the genuine appeal that the Welshman holds for the federation. Guus Hiddink has also been linked to the Turkey job, though as he has been linked to almost every available big job going since Russia failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup, there are some uncertainties as to whether the Dutchman is likely to move national posts.

The Istanbul newspaper Fanatik claimed last week that Hiddink was likely to sign a contract before last Friday so that he could represent Turkey at the draw in Warsaw for the 2012 European Championship, but that did not come to pass. There have been suggestions that the Turks, seeking a replacement for Fatih Terim, who quit after failing to lead the country to the World Cup finals, would like to team Hughes up with the ex-Blackburn midfielder Tugay as a dream ticket. Tugay was a member of Hughes' coaching staff at Manchester City and is still regarded as a national hero.

Though the parting of ways between Hughes and City was not acrimonious and a pay-off was quickly agreed, Hughes is understood to remain bemused by his departure and takes the view that his old club have remained stuck in the sixth place in the Premier League table they assumed on the night of his departure and, despite bringing in Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson last month, have lost as many games in Mancini's six-week tenure as Hughes had lost throughout this campaign.

Privately, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan's representatives believe that Mancini's greater inclination to take a broader coaching staff and to communicate directly with them augurs well for the future. Mancini's future is not dependent on hitting the 70-point target Hughes signed up to at City's August board meeting.