Mark Hughes can see no reason why Manchester City should not force their way into the top six next season.
City ended an inconsistent campaign with good news on and off the pitch on Sunday, adding a 1-0 win against Bolton at Eastlands to a record shirt sponsorship deal with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airlines.
"There is no reason why we should not hit the ground running next season," Hughes said. "I would be disappointed if that was not the case because everyone knows what I am about now. The whole process of change has taken longer than I anticipated but I believe challenging for a top-six place is a realistic target."
In a match that marked the return of Mark Clattenburg to the top-flight refereeing panel after an eight-month suspension for off-field matters, Felipe Caicedo took only eight minutes to score the winner, finishing off a neat bit of improvisation from player-of-the-year Stephen Ireland, whose astute pass was steered into the South American's path by Micah Richards.
After that it was the Shaun Wright-Phillips show, which was good going considering Hughes ruled him out on Friday with a knee injury.
"That was my fault," admitted the City chief rather sheepishly.
"He was on his way down to London at the time and the advice was his knee would need a wash-out.
"Instead, the medics said he should play and see how it stood up."
Hughes will now embark on a short busman's holiday in Abu Dhabi before putting his plans in place for next season.
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