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Ferguson weighs into Hughes debate

December 24, 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson has branded Manchester City’s handling of the sacking of his former player Mark Hughes “unacceptable”.

Mark Hughes was dismissed by the club shortly after Saturday’s 4-3 win over Sunderland at Eastlands, but not before everybody knew that the decision had already been made.

“It was unacceptable behaviour. For some reason Christmas seems to bring out the worst in directors,” Ferguson said, in a thinly-veiled reference to chief executive Garry Cook who has borne the brunt of much of the criticism in the media over the last few days.

All-round bad egg or victim of the media? City chief exec Garry Cook (right) with Roberto Mancini at Monday

City apparently spoke to Roberto Mancini, Hughes’s successor, as early as two weeks ago despite Cook’s assertion that the decision to replace Hughes was only made after the club’s 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur  – just three days before the Sunderland game.

The club denied the reports earlier this week, saying: “The outcome [of the press conference announcing Mancini’s appointment] was characterised in a way which has suggested that the football club and Garry Cook has lied to its fans. Manchester City would like to point out that this is absolutely not the case.”

Mark Hughes, sacked on Saturday evening

Cook, who has seen a series of his PR faux pas reprinted in various newspapers this week, has taken the enterprising decision to ban newspapers from the club’s training ground so that Robinho, Adebayor et al cannot read the negative headlines.

However, in the interest of maintaining a free press, The Videprinter has taken the opportunity to publish some of the criticism of the club so that City’s players can choose for themselves if they want to read it (assuming Cook has not also disconnected the WiFi).

The Daily Mirror‘s Oliver Holt had some harsh words for Cook: 

“…in football, sacking someone because they’ve fallen below a line on a graph just makes you a laughing stock.

I’ll tell you what was worse than all that, though. It was the righteous indignation and the anger on Cook’s face. It was the idea he was trying to convey that, actually, it was him who had been wronged.

That was the really stomach churning part, the part that made it obvious that Cook is either a very bad actor or a bloody idiot.”

Gabriele Marcotti was also critical in The Times, saying:

“Manchester City’s handling of the sacking of Mark Hughes was, simply put, terrible.

The idea, peddled by Cook on Monday, that Hughes wasn’t told he was being sacked until after the Sunderland game because the chairman, Khaldoon Al-Mubarak wanted to tell him in person and was so busy that he couldn’t physically be in Manchester until 10am on Saturday, is not an acceptable explanation for such uncivil behaviour.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter was no kinder:

“In truth, this was a tale of two Cities, the ludicrous land inhabited by Cook and the sang-froid kingdom of Mancini, unlike Cook a proper football man.”

Mancini’s first game takes place on Boxing Day, at home to Stoke City.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mnthunderfan permalink
    December 27, 2009 5:19 am

    Last weekend after the firing, Tony Cascarino, the former player for Ireland and other teams called the firing “unacceptable”, so a few days later, Sir Alex correctly said the same. Just adding that in, you might websearch for some article on Tony about this matter. Nothing against Mancini but a week later, it grits my nerves, it’s a bitter pill..

    • Ben Winstanley permalink
      December 28, 2009 12:03 pm

      Good point – I saw the Cascarino comments in The Times and I agree with you. I posted the Ferguson comments as they came on top of all the media criticism, so it’s more of a round-up of what people were saying than just picking out Ferguson’s view. Oliver Holt’s article is probably the most vicious attack on Cook, I think, though nobody seemed particularly complimentary.

      As an aside, Cascarino’s autobiography is one of the best sports books I’ve read.

      Thanks for commenting.

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