Hughes: City are Chelsea of 1990s, not 2000s
As Manchester City manager Mark Hughes prepares to face Roman Abramovich's Chelsea, the other mega-spenders of recent seasons, he believes his side has more in common with the Chelsea team he joined in 1995.
City's vast £200million outlay on new players during the last three transfer windows has been likened to the Abramovich revolution at Stamford Bridge, but Hughes has played down the high expectations on his side in media circles, saying his current mission is more like the one he faced as a player when Chelsea were hunting trophies for the first time in decades.
The successful time Hughes enjoyed at Chelsea, when they scooped the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup, set the platform for the Premier League conquering era of Abramovich and Jose Mourinho in the early 2000s. City is now looking to lay similar foundations.
"When I went there in 1995 they hadn't won a trophy in 20-odd years. But I signed on the same day as Ruud Gullit, so it was obvious things were changing. In the three years I was there we won three major trophies. But that was 15 years ago. That is the amount of time they have had to build, even without the huge amount of money they have had recently.
"They have had the money, and a winning team as well, so when the comparison is made, it's a little unfair on us. We are just trying to get to a level where we are going to compete on a regular basis.''
In reaching the Carling Cup semi-finals - where they will meet Manchester United - City have created an opportunity to win their first trophy since 1976. And, while a run of seven successive Premier League draws has deflated some of that early season optimism, the Blues' results against the 'big four' does create a sense of optimism for Saturday's visit of Carlo Ancelotti's men.
Yet even if the Blues fail to arrest a run of eight straight defeats to Chelsea, Hughes is convinced the trend this term has been forwards.
"We have taken a big step this season, although there some frustration at results because we are judged by the amount of money we spent last summer,'' Hughes said. "But that was unprecedented and won't happen again. In the following windows you will see good players come to the club, but not at the level you have seen this summer.''