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No favours, Hughes warns old pals

Mark Hughes pitchside 0809

Mark Hughes pitchside 0809

Mark Hughes will happily try and put relegation battlers Blackburn to the sword today, confident that his former club will avoid the fate that would undo all his good work in a sparkling four-year spell at Ewood Park.

Blues boss Hughes admits he has regularly cast a concerned eye this season towards Rovers, the club he steered into Europe and three domestic semi-finals after making the demanding switch from managing Wales.

City's manager is back on the European trail again, with a seventh-place finish his target after reaching the UEFA Cup quarter-finals last month, but he has also been monitoring the other end of the Premier League.

Hughes admitted: "Have I been worried about them? Yes, because I spent four years there, and when you spend that amount of time then there's always that emotional bond because you go through a lot together.

"I know the club from top to bottom after four enjoyable years - I had a lot of support from the people there, and you always have an affection. They cannot afford to go down - that would be a disaster for them.

"I had a great relationship with John Williams, their chairman. I know him as an individual and he won't have enjoyed this season. He is an emotional guy and I'm sure he's been through the wringer quite a few times.

"I'm sure he was really pleased with the result against Wigan. It was a huge game for them and they came through. I was pleased for them and I fully expect them to stay up, though not by gaining points from us.

"I left them in good shape and very much an established top-ten club. It's a shame they have had an indifferent season. Hopefully they have got over the worst and they will be safe. Then they can grow again next year."

Hughes mixed flair with steel at Rovers but will not jump on the bandwagon when it comes to criticising new manager Sam Allardyce, whose more direct approach has come under fire in some quarters.

He said: "On occasions Sam isn't given enough credit. They like to get the ball into the opposition's half and play from there. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. They have been able to pick up points."

Winger Morten Gamst Pedersen's long throw has become a potent element of Blackburn's attacking intent, but Hughes added: "He has always had that, it just wasn't flagged up. We weren't averse to doing it.

If you have the weapons and the players who can have an impact on the flow of the game it would be stupid not to use them. That's all Sam is doing.

Mark Hughes


Hughes will put his own potent weapons to good use today. City need to grab maximum points from home games with Blackburn and Bolton, but Hughes has targeted the trip to Tottenham on May 16th as the key game.

Spurs are neck-and-neck in the table, and he said: "We will probably have to go to Tottenham and get a positive result. It's still there for us to finish seventh and we are going to give it a go."

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