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Feb 26, 2011

Hughes lifts lid on City sacking

Mark Hughes has finally lifted the lid on his sacking by Manchester City, revealing he was actually among the last to be told he had lost his job.

It was widely assumed Hughes knew of his fate before the end of what proved to be his last match in charge 14 months ago. Reports of Roberto Mancini's appointment as his successor emerged at half-time of City's 4-3 Barclays Premier League victory against Sunderland, while Hughes even saluted the four corners of Eastlands as he left the field after the game.

But he insists he was simply "covering all eventualities'' in response to the fevered speculation over his position and had no idea at that point he had already been given the boot.

Hughes revealed he was only made aware of events 15 minutes after the final whistle, giving further ammunition to those who believe City bungled the entire affair.

"I had a fair idea that something was afoot and something was likely to happen, but I didn't actually know at the end of the game,'' Hughes said. "I waved to the crowd and everybody assumed I knew, but I didn't.

"Maybe I was just covering all eventualities and was proved right in the end. I found out about a quarter of an hour later.''

Hughes continues to maintain he feels no lingering bitterness over his controversial departure. But as he prepares for his first visit to the City of Manchester Stadium since that fateful night - he takes Fulham to his former club on Sunday - he admits there will be no handshakes with those who plotted his downfall.

Hughes still has plenty of friends at the club, who he plans to greet, but asked if he would avoid the boardroom while there, he replied: "You'd be correct. I'm there to do a job and I'd love to come away from there having seen my team play exceptionally well and win the game.

"I don't think I have anything to prove, to be perfectly honest, because I think everybody there understood that I was taking the club in the right direction, the direction it need to be. But they wanted to get there quicker, and with a different profile, and maybe that's the reason I lost my job.''

The manner of Hughes' departure means one of those most interesting aspects of Sundays game will be the reception he receives from the home supporters.

"Many Man City fans have come up to me since I left and said they were disappointed with the way I was taken out of the club, and that I was hard done by,'' Hughes said.

"I think the vast majority of them felt that way and I appreciated the fact that some have taken the time to say that to me.''

City was Hughes' first big job in club management and despite being stung by the experience, he has not been deterred in his quest to coach at the highest level.

"In terms being in charge of a big club, I know I can do the job because I have experienced it,'' said Hughes, who is among the favourites to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and was also recently linked with Chelsea amid speculation over Carlo Ancelotti's future.

"Irrespective of the circumstances that surrounded my eventual departure, I knew that the things we had put in place and the plan we had would bring success there. So it doesn't faze me whatsoever. I understand what it takes to manage a big club and it doesn't faze me at all.''

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