Hughes defiant despite shock FA Cup loss
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes insists he is still the right man to lead the Eastlands outfit despite the humiliating FA Cup defeat by Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon.
City lost 3-0 at home against a Forest side that have been struggling badly in the Championship this term and sacked Colin Calderwood on Boxing Day after an abject loss to Doncaster.
There are some who wonder whether the same fate might now befall Hughes, who earlier in the day signed Wayne Bridge from Chelsea for a reported £10million.
But the Welshman insists his own faith in his ability to do the job remains undiminished and he had already made City's wealthy Abu Dhabi-based owners aware of the Blues' clear limitations.
''I know exactly what is needed here,'' he said. ''The work we do on a day-to-day basis makes players better. They have to be brave enough to perform in matches. Today some were guilty of not doing that.
''We know where we are in development terms and we know where we need to go.
''We know the areas of the squad we have to strengthen and we will try to do that. It is not going to happen in this window, or even two or three. We need more time.''
Hughes feared the worst when he lost Shaun Wright-Phillips after only 18 minutes with a hamstring injury that could keep him out for up to five weeks.
With Robinho and Stephen Ireland also sidelined, the hosts lacked any semblance of creativity and capitulated to what the City boss admitted was a deserved loss.
''We are bitterly disappointed with the level of performance that we produced today,'' he said. ''Nottingham Forest fully deserved to win.
''They showed more desire and energy in their play. They forced us into errors and took their chances.''
In confirming Forest showed more desire, Hughes was offering a damning assessment of his own team.
However, the former Wales boss insists there is no point trying to mask the truth.
''I didn't expect the other team to show more desire but I am just being honest,'' he said.
''I am not telling anyone anything they didn't see themselves. I have known the frailties in the team from day one.''
Indeed, Hughes pointed out the frailties in private discussions with chairman Sheikh Mansoor and chief executive Garry Cook more than a month ago.
''You need leaders, people who drive the game and affect it in a positive way,'' he said.
''If we have more than one, two or three players below their best then we struggle to win games. We have shown that throughout the season.''
City might have conceded before Nathan Tyson's sensational first-half volley, which was followed four minutes later by Robert Earnshaw steering home an off-target Matt Thornhill effort.
If the Blues were the architects of their own downfall on that occasion given Pablo Zabaleta lost possession close to the touchline, it was nothing compared to Dietmar Hamann's woeful throw-in that gifted Joe Garner the visitors' third.
''All credit to Nottingham Forest,'' reflected Hughes, whose side were following up an equally early Carling Cup demise at Brighton.
''Now we have to pick ourselves up, knowing it is perfectly clear the squad as it is cannot compete on a number of fronts.''
The match proved a memorable cameo for Forest caretaker boss John Pemberton, who will return to his duties with the reserve team when new manager Billy Davies takes charge next week.
''Billy spoke with the players this morning but he wanted to leave it today because it was such short notice,'' said Pemberton.
''I just wanted the lads to give a good account of themselves and get them ready to play.
''Winning is fantastic but on Monday morning I will be back to my normal job, getting the reserve team ready for a game against Lincoln City away on Wednesday.
''That is how things are in football. You get highs and lows. I have been at Nottingham Forest a long time and I am happy to work at the club.
''Today was probably the highlight of my career,'' he added. ''To win 3-0 against a Manchester City side stuffed with talent - and deserve it - was fabulous.''