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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 4, 2009

Hughes hoping for five signings to boost Man City

Under-fire Mark Hughes estimates it will take the arrival of five more players this month to ensure Manchester City remain competitive in the Premier League.

Hughes has wasted little time in stamping City's intentions on the transfer market by signing Wayne Bridge from Chelsea for a fee believed to be around £10million.

At precisely 2.55pm yesterday, the England defender waved to the City faithful, clearly delighted at his career choice.

A couple of hours later he could be forgiven having second thoughts following a shambolic 3-0 FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest which condemned the Blues to a second domestic cup exit against lower league opposition this season, following a similarly embarrassing loss to Brighton in September.

Nathan Tyson, Robert Earnshaw and Joe Garner did the damage for Forest, who fully merited their success.

Hughes can only hope the unequivocal backing he has so far received from City's new Abu Dhabi-based owners remains intact. For if they flick through an plotted history of Forest's recent inglorious past, they may not be too impressed.

He claimed to have informed chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak precisely what the present situation was at their most recent meeting. But it is doubtful Hughes' assessment would have covered anything quite so humiliating as this sorry debacle.

Still, if there is no wavering, Hughes will spend the next month on a mission to improve, if not to his total satisfaction then at least to a point where he can be held directly responsible for a shambles like yesterday.

''We need more players,'' he said.

''We have brought Wayne Bridge to the club but maybe we need five more to complement the ones we have.

''Bringing players in during January is not easy but it is evident to everybody that number is probably the minimum we need.

''I recognise some of the players we would like to bring in are maybe unobtainable. But it is early yet and we will pursue targets we think will help us.''

The problem for Hughes is that an increasing number of City supporters have given their own verdict.

Dubious about the Welshman to start with because he was so heavily associated with Manchester United as a player, they are less prepared to tolerate teething troubles and as the disgruntled masses headed for the exits, coming to terms with a home hammering by a team battling to avoid a return to League One, there were plenty of home voices echoing the gleeful cries of Forest fans that Hughes will be getting 'sacked in the morning'.

It is hard not to sympathise and easy to plead for more time.

But the way City crumbled and Hughes' own assessment was pretty damning, considering it highlighted deficiencies that should not exist at any level of the game.

''We need a physical presence,'' said Hughes.

''We have to match the workrate of the opposition. If you don't do that you won't win games no matter what level the opposition are at.

''You need leaders. You need people who drive the game and affect it in a positive way. You need bravery to get on the ball.

''Nottingham Forest showed more desire and energy in their play.

''I am just being honest. I am not telling anyone anything they didn't see themselves.

''I won't defend it because it is indefensible.

''I have known the frailties in the team from day one and have pointed them out to the owners and chairman.

''They understand where we are. It is not as though this has just happened overnight.''

With Shaun Wright-Phillips sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury and the fitness of Stephen Ireland and Robinho still causing concern, City might be lacking their creative element for a while.

At least Hughes should have the trio back for the resumption of City's UEFA Cup campaign in February, which now represents the only chance of silverware this season.

Providing he lasts that long, Hughes needs to make sure that trophy quest does not end as abjectly as this one did and without the kind of gross errors Pablo Zabaleta and, most inexplicably, Dietmar Hamann made to gift Forest their deserved success.

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