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Al Fayed slams 'flop' Hughes

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed has criticised Mark Hughes, labelling him a ''strange man'' and a ''flop'' after the former manager said the club lacked ambition.

• Hubbard: Hughes misjudged appeal

Hughes was at the Craven Cottage helm last season but left in the summer, with speculation linking him with the managerial vacancy at Aston Villa. The former Manchester City boss claimed he did not quit for the job (eventually filled by Alex McLeish) but because Fulham did not aim high enough.

In response, Fulham chairman Al Fayed has launched a scathing attack on Hughes in an open letter.

''What a strange man Mark Hughes is,'' he said. ''Sacked by Manchester City, he was becoming a forgotten man when I rescued him to become manager of Fulham Football Club.

''Even when results were bad, I did not put pressure on him. I gave him every support - financial, moral and personal. He fully negotiated a two-year extension to his contract.

''On the day he was due to sign, he walked out without the courtesy of a proper explanation. And now he insults the club, saying it lacks ambition, and the players who delivered an eighth position finish last season and a place in the Europa League.

''He is not just disrespectful but entirely wrong. Fulham has just announced plans for a splendid new riverside stand that will substantially increase the capacity of Craven Cottage. In every aspect of its work, Fulham is a progressive club with a top manager in Martin Jol, the man we had really wanted when Hughes was appointed.

''We shall endeavour to prosper without him simply because, when the challenge came, it was not the club but Mark Hughes who lacked the courage and ambition to take on the task of leadership.

''If people are looking for a flop, they only have to no further than the man who has lost his spark.''

Al Fayed's open letter comes in direct response to Hughes' explanation on why he left the west Londoners. The Welshman revealed that the Cottagers did not match his ambitions and that the support was not there to help reach his expectations.

''The assumption was that I was jumping ship because I had another job to jump into,'' Hughes told the Mirror. ''People assumed I was hoping to get the Villa job, but that was never the case. It was never there for me.

''It was a point in time where I felt my ambition for where I wanted to take the club was not matched. Historically, Fulham was a club that was happy to be in the Premier League and that was their ambition, but it was not my ambition for them. I felt Fulham were probably a little bit too honest with me.

''In conversations, they were saying, 'We know exactly what you're about Mark, but, really, we are just quite happy to stay in the Premier League'.

''The offer was there for me to stay and if I had seen the next two years were going to be steady progression and they wanted to establish themselves in the top 10, then I would have signed it. But I didn't really get that feeling.

''There were players that I wanted to sign for the club and those negotiations weren't going well. I had given them a couple of names and I saw a slowing down of the process. They were saying, 'We will do it' and 'We're speaking' and I read that as the fact that maybe they didn't want to do these deals.

''I read that as maybe they didn't want to take the club and keep them in the top half of the Premier League - which was my ambition.''


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