Today Manchester City are one of the strongest teams in the Premier League. They won the title two seasons ago and are now challenging for it again this season.
Mark Hughes was given the reigns when Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited bought out the club. It is deemed that Hughes had a very poor 18 months there.
Position wise, I agree with that. City finished a disappointing 10th in the league after spending almost £100 million on players during the season. His time is very much overlooked due to high profile purchases like Robinho and Jo who turned out to be flops.
However if you look at the players he bought and gave a chance to, Hughes has helped produce some of the best players in the Premier League.
Two defenders that Hughes brought to City are still playing under Manuel Pellegrini and are the biggest characters in the dressing room.
Vincent Kompany is the first. Kompany is now captaining the Manchester City side and is a complete rock in defence.
The Belgian has enjoyed numerous inspirational games for Manchester City. At just £6 million in 2008, it's a complete bargain now in hindsight. He has developed into one of the world's best central defenders, making 157 appearances for City and keeping 57 clean sheets during his time with the club.
Pablo Zabeleta is the second. He came in for just half a million more than Kompany. Up until this season he was the vice-captain of of he club. Zabeleta is a fan favourite at the Ethihad. With a number of poor performances from City last season, the Argentenian defender always shone for the club and was the only City player voted in the PFA 2012-13 team of the year.
The superb addition of Carlos Tevez in July 2009 certainly set foundations for the success of City too. Hughes stole Tevez from rivals Manchester United for £25 million, which seems to have been a bargain buy. His goals at Eastlands were vital in the 2010-11 season to gain City entrance into the Champions League and he captained the side to FA Cup victory.
Tevez was probably Hughes' best buy when at the helm at Eastlands. Tevez was a proven goalscorer in the Premier League. The sizeable transfer fee was more than re-payed as he netted 73 times in 138 games for the club.
City's midfield badly needed reinforcements which Hughes recognised. Nigel De Jong was right for the role and was brought in for £18 million. His ability to break down attacks and distribute the ball was what Hughes needed. De Jong too like the three above was still a key figure in both City's FA Cup victory and Premier League win.
Hughes too snatched Gareth Barry in the summer of 2009. The Aston Villa captain for just £12 million, a year after Liverpool had failed to sign the England international. His 34 league appearances in the blue half of Manchester's 2011-12 winning campaign helped them win the league for the first time in 44 years.
Joleon Lescott may have been well over-priced at £22 million but he too his still at the club and helped them win the league.
Hughes made some abysmal mistakes during at his time at City. However, I definitely believe that the signings of Robinho and Jo were not his, but the new owners who demanded big football names.
When Hughes made signings like Tevez, Barry and Lescott, who were proven players in the Premier League, they all made an impact. It was a work in progress he had going at Eastlands that needed a bit more time. When Hughes was sacked in December 2009, they sat 6th in the table and were in the semi-finals of the League Cup.
Hughes had the funds to bring in class performers when he first joined the club in 2008. However he bought either class who were not proven in the English game or average players in the Premier League. New players like Shaun Wright-Phillips and Wayne Bridge were good players, but they weren't people who made fans' eyes light up in delight.
However he learned from his mistakes the first year and bought class in the Premier League. Hughes was sacked for only winning two games in his last 11 but they had also only lost two of those games.
It's always going to be 'today and not tomorrow' when you spend over £200 million at a club. Players like Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Curz signed for big money and let him down big time, alongside Robinho and Jo.
He nearly had his revenge on the last day of the season in 2012. City chasing the title saw themselves 2-1 down to Hughes managed QPR, however in their epic comeback City prevailed. Although Hughes can take some credit for this title triumph, with his signing Kompany lifting the trophy that day.
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