Mark Hughes: the Manchester Connection.
Former Red and Blue Mark Hughes will open the next chapter of his history with the Manchester clubs when his Stoke team take on City this weekend.
Mark Hughes and Manchester City have crossed paths on a number of occasions in recent years and their next encounter is scheduled for this Saturday when his Stoke City take on Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium.
Both teams sit on six points in the table, having won two of their three opening Premier League fixtures; however, Hughes has more than a bit of history with the Manchester area.
The Welshman began his affiliation back in 1978 when he was spotted by Manchester United youth coach Syd Owen as a 14-year-old. Sparky went on to play 121 games in all competitions for the Red Devils, scoring 47 times, but the 1985-86 season would be the last of his first stint in Manchester as he moved to Barcelona.
He only managed a mere four goals in 28 games at the Spanish giants, describing his time there as “horrible”. A loan move to Bayern Munich rekindled his goal scoring prowess before Sir Alex Ferguson spent a then club-record £1.5m in 1988 to bring Hughes back to Old Trafford.
His second spell at Manchester United was littered with both personal and team accolades, seeing Hughes win back-to-back PFA Player of the Year awards. In total, Hughes played 467 games and scored 163 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils, earning himself legend status amongst the fans.
The Welshman featured in 13 Manchester derbies and scored on four occasions, including a goal in the 5-0 drubbing back in 1989 dubbed the “demolition derby”.
A move to Chelsea in 1995 ended a 13 year career over two spells at Manchester United before further moves to Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers. He hung up his boots at the age of 38.
Hughes took his first steps in management in charge of the Welsh national team. His side failed to reach the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 before he decided to quit in favour of taking charge at Blackburn Rovers.
Whilst at Ewood Park, his biggest achievement was guiding them to a sixth placed finish and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. At Blackburn, Hughes had a formidable record against Manchester City, remaining unbeaten and picking up 16 points from their eight league encounters.
In 2008, the ex-Red was appointed manager of the blue half of Manchester, succeeding Sven-Göran Eriksson by signing a three-year deal at a time when Thaksin Shinawatra owned City. Hughes joined Matt Busby and Steve Coppell in the list of managers who had played for either Manchester City or United and gone on to manage their cross-city rivals.
A 46.75 win percentage was ultimately not good enough for the Abu Dhabi United Group who took over the club and Hughes was sacked.
He subsequently signed a two-year deal to take over at Fulham to replace Roy Hodgson and guided the club to an eighth placed finish and Europa League qualification via the fair play league, although he only picked up one point against City.
Come the 2012 January transfer window, Queens Park Rangers were in serious threat of getting relegated and Neil Warnock was replaced by Mark Hughes. Sparky did manage to keep QPR in the top flight after some impressive home victories over both Arsenal and Liverpool, but had to wait on results to go their way after suffering a 3-2 away defeat at City on the final day of the season – quite a memorable game for the Blues.
Hughes embarked on a spending spree at the Hoops, but this was ultimately the biggest disappointment in his managerial career after failing to win a single game, picking up just four points from thirty-six before being sacked the day before the game against United.
In the summer of 2013, Stoke City had parted company with Tony Pulis and installed Hughes. The Potters have started the season well with victories against Crystal Palace and West Ham United, and Hughes will be relishing the test of battling with City again at the Britannia.
Published on September 11 2013 for Manchester Evening News