Williams pays Hughes tribute

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The Independent Football

Blackburn chairman John Williams has paid tribute to manager Mark Hughes following confirmation that the Welshman is leaving Ewood Park to take over at Manchester City.

Williams has acknowledged finding a successor to Hughes will prove a tough challenge after the club secured three consecutive top 10 finishes as well as European football for the club.

In a statement on Rovers' official website Williams said: "We have enjoyed a first-class, mutually beneficial relationship with Mark.

"He leaves the club in a strong position with three consecutive top 10 finishes and an excellent squad of players.

"In turn, we have helped Mark to establish himself as one of the most sought-after young British managers in the business, having previously had no club management experience.

"We wish him well. We would have liked him to stay on, but he made it clear he wanted a fresh challenge.

"Now our focus switches to the search for a successor. We have enjoyed eight years of success and stability with Graeme Souness and Mark, and now it is important that we build on our strengths.

"We must make sure it is three successful appointments in a row."

Former Bolton and Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has emerged as the clear early favourite to succeed Hughes with former England boss Steve McClaren and ex-Rover Alan Shearer also in the running.

The first challenge for the new boss will be to persuade some of Hughes' star signings to remain at Ewood Park and not follow their boss to the City of Manchester Stadium.

David Bentley and Roque Santa Cruz would both be coveted additions to Hughes' new City squad and could take some persuading to stay behind.

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