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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

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Man City owners give Hughes vote of confidence

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has refuted claims that Mark Hughes is under pressure and given a ringing endorsement of his manager's qualities after the club's recent poor run.

The two men met over the weekend before City's 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hotspur to discuss the club's recent fortunes and plan for the future.

Hughes has seen his side win only one of their last seven league games and they are only one point above the relegation zone.

But Al Mubarak, who was in attendance at the latest defeat on Sunday, says it is nonsense to suggest the former Blackburn Rovers boss' job is under threat.

''We are calm and under control and we on the board have the highest regard for Mark,'' he told the club's website.

''I am personally committed to him as I am committed to the partnership between executive chairman Garry Cook, Mark and myself. This is a winning team that is going through a learning curve right now.

''Thankfully I do not read the newspapers that are saying he is under pressure but I find it incredible. I am told that there are reports that we are associated with two different coaches and that we are about to sign them. It is rubbish.''

Al Mubarak has re-iterated they have a 10-year plan in place and there will be funds in place for the manager to strengthen his squad when the transfer window re-opens in two months.

He said: ''While January is going to be an interesting opportunity for Mark to improve the team, this is an exciting dynasty we are building and we are only in the first two months.

''I think people will see then that we have good foundations in place in the team, we have a good coach and that we will be upgrading in terms of players. Hopefully the results will come.''

Al Mubarak assumed his role following the Abu Dhabi United Group's takeover of the club in September and has been consistent in his comments regarding Hughes role, announcing: ''Mark is as good as they get and we are backing him all the way. He's a leader, he's tough and he is everything you would want in a head coach. We trust him, he's one of the gems we saw in this club once we came here''.

However, despite positive statements concerns over Hughes will remain unless City's results pick up. There have also been reports that the Abu Dhabi United Group have been under whelmed by Hughes choice of transfer target.

Hughes is thought to be keen to raid former club Blackburn for players like defender Christopher Samba and striker Roque Santa Cruz. It is believed that City's owners are targeting more marquee names to compliment the dramatic arrival of Robinho, who signed from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £32.5 million on transfer deadline day.

Hughes said: ''I have had some great meetings with the chairman. He was at my house and we had discussions about the future and where we want to take the club. It was very positive.

''He understands the situation we are in at the moment. He is realistic. He knows injuries and suspensions have played a part. The key is to be stronger in future.''

Meanwhile the Football Association have confirmed that skipper Richard Dunne will receive a one-match suspension after being given a straight red card against Spurs, as will Gelson Fernandes who was also dismissed.

The bans come into immediate effect, which means the pair will miss the Premier League match at Hull on Sunday.

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