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Hughes uncovers a silver lining

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes has suggested that City missing out on Europe next season could be a blessing in disguise as far as the forthcoming Premier League campaign is concerned.

The Blues manager, while bitterly disappointed at the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham that ended City's bid for a seventh-place finish and a ticket into the new Europa League, has long been aware of his team's Euro-dip.

City's UEFA Cup odyssey, starting in the Faroes in July and finishing with that memorable quarter-final night against Hamburg, saw a staggering eight defeats from the 13 Sunday games that followed European ties.

Fellow UEFA Cup contenders Aston Villa were knocked out earlier while apparently putting their League ambitions first, and the Blues' great adventure in reaching the last eight took its toll on the squad.

Hughes admitted in the wake of White Hart Lane: "We would have loved to be back in Europe but that's not going to be the case, unfortunately.

"Looking further ahead, maybe it is a blessing, although it doesn't feel like that at the moment because we are all disappointed that we are not going to be involved.

"But maybe in certain games this year, we have travelled into Europe on Thursdays then come back to play a League game on Sunday and not performed. It's happened on occasion.

"So maybe going into more free weeks might help us next season. We certainly benefited from them in recent weeks after Hamburg, and that could well be the case for next year.

"It might even come to be seen as a blessing for our Premier League form - it just doesn't seem that way at the moment."

For the record, City won only four Sunday games after UEFA ties, against Sunderland (twice), Portsmouth and West Brom. Defeats came against Aston Villa, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester United, West Brom, West Ham, Chelsea and Fulham.

But City can reach 50 points by beating Bolton at the City of Manchester Stadium in Sunday's final game, and the Blues boss said of his first season: "It was always going to be a year of transition.

"There have been some huge changes, and there will be huge changes in the future. People have got to understand there is a lot of work involved, and it's only just begun."

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Mark Hughes vs Manchester United 0809

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