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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 10 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 15, 2009

Hughes calm ahead of City's crucial Spurs trip

Mark Hughes is not convinced a failure to make next season's Europa League would have an adverse effect on Manchester City's summer recruitment campaign.

City head to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday knowing victory is essential if they are to retain a realistic hope of clinching seventh spot, which would herald a return to Europe, where they enjoyed encouraging exploits this year.

Hughes wants the added distraction as part of his side's development.

But as the City chief plots his next move in the transfer market, the first full summer he will have been able to utilise the wealth of the Abu Dhabi-based owners now bankrolling the club, he feels the promise his club can offer may outweigh any negativity over what competitions they are competing for.

''European qualification might not be as great as many would suppose in terms of attracting new players,'' he said.

''From a team development position, we would rather have it and I guess some players will think it is really important to still have the profile of European football if they change clubs.

''But there are other things we can present to players that are interesting in their own right.''

It could be argued Carlos Tevez has already proved the truth of those words by indicating Champions League combat is not a pre-requisite for joining a new club should he decide to leave Manchester United.

Hughes has refused to speak about the chances of Tevez being lured to Eastlands. But there is no doubting City have the cash, just as there is little question the South American is of the right quality to improve the standard among the Blues' top players, as their manager demands.

Whether it will prove to be the perfect match remains to be seen, although, taken as a whole, Europe might not be, given the added fixtures as, unquestionably, Hughes will be judged with a far more intense gaze next term.

There have been sporadic moments of promise, including a three-goal defeat of Arsenal.

However, the ground that still has to be made up merely to cling onto Manchester United's coat-tails was emphasised in pretty stark terms at Old Trafford last weekend.

Throw in dismal domestic cup exits to lower league opposition in the form of Brighton and Nottingham Forest, plus the memory of spending Christmas Day in the bottom three thanks to defeat at West Brom, and it is little wonder Hughes would like to take something tangible out of the season.

''I have said for a number of weeks now that the game against Tottenham was likely to be the key one with regard to European qualification,'' he said.

''My view has not changed. We are looking to win our last two games. If we can do that we would go close to that seventh position.''

As Spurs have surged past City since the last transfer window closed, Hughes might regard himself a touch disappointed not to have sealed seventh already.

Yet, like most other observers, the Welshman always felt the side Harry Redknapp inherited was much better than their league position suggested.

So now, along with Fulham and West Ham United, it boils down to a two-game scrap for one chance to begin the competitive season on July 30.

''Tottenham have similar ambitions to us but it is important that we remain positive,'' he said. ''If we can get the three points, it would set us up very nicely for our last game at home against Bolton.

''The idea is to be in a position where we are very much in the mix going into that final game.''

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