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Hughes slams "hysteria'' over City's stuttering form

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has slammed the unnecessary pressure being piled on his side after their record-equalling seven successive Premier League draws.

City may have only lost one game all season - and that came courtesy of a 96th minute Michael Owen goal for champions and city rivals United - but their bid for a place in the Champions League is being hampered by a failure to hold on to leads. Hughes feels there is now a "hysteria'' about the club's failure to win and in turn the press have begun speculating about when, and not if, he will be replaced as the club's manager as Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan looks for success after the millions he has invested.

City have thrown away the lead in four of their last five matches. Even so, they remain only four points behind third placed Tottenham Hotspur with a game in hand.

There will be the chance to move a step closer to some silverware on Wednesday night when Arsenal visit the City of Manchester Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup. A failure to edge past Arsene Wenger's kids will not go down well with the billionaire owners.

"There is a little bit of hysteria around at the moment, as we have had on numerous occasions since I have been City manager,'' said Hughes. "It becomes predictable because we are being judged on the amount of money we have spent.

"But we are progressing. We are in December and have only been beaten once. We have been frustrated by the number of draws but we know that as a group we will get stronger as the season progresses.

"Every team of mine is stronger in the second half of the season and I am convinced that will be the case again because of the quality and strength in depth we have.

"We are still very much where we thought we would be at this point - within one or two points of the teams above us, with a game in hand, so we are in very good shape.

"We are one step away from a semi-final, which is something this club has not been in for a number of years. We are at home, in front of our fans. It is a great opportunity for us.''


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