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Let's kick on from here, urges boss

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes is not content for City to sit back on their good start to the season.

With domestic duties taking a back seat in the current international break, the Manager has been reflecting on the opening phase of the campaign, which has ended with City in fourth place in the Barclays Premier League and contemplating a home draw in the next round of the Carling Cup.

That this has happened with a much-altered squad is something that has particularly pleased Hughes, but he's demanding that his new, improved Blues keep their good form going. 

He said: "A lot of questions that were being asked of us before a ball was even kicked. Would we gel early as a team? Would the egos in the dressing room be able to be managed? There were a number of things that kept being asked in the media and elsewhere, but I think that we have answered each and every one of them.

"We know that there’s a long way to go and we are conscious of that, but we are pleased with our start. We needed that to happen, we needed people to settle down and see what we were trying to do. I think that it’s now being realised that the people we have brought to the club have made us stronger physically, technically and mentally, which was a key thing for me.

"It was inevitable that our results would improve, and now we have to make sure that we are consistent for the whole of the season. Given the squad’s quality, I see no reason why we can’t be."

The Blues' good form coupled with a busy summer in the transfer market and much-discussed incidents against Arsenal and at Old Trafford has raised the club's profile to new heights. But rather than get weighed down by it, the Manager says that the players have used all the debate about them to good effect.

"Everybody wants to discuss Manchester City these days so it’s difficult to protect the players to a great extent," he continued. "We’ve tried to use it to our own ends, at times there has been a lot of negative stuff said about us that we have used positively in terms of motivation.

"You need to get the balance right, be level and don’t go too overboard about praise. Negative criticism will always be there, so you should not get too upset about it because you know that it’s coming.

"The group we have here is knowledgeable and experienced, they understand how things work and as a result we are a lot stronger."

International breaks provide the boss with a handy way of dividing the domestic season up, enabling him and his coaching staff to use the opening few games as a yardstick for the next phase once the squad has reconvened later this week.

"It’s a long old season, and it’s difficult to focus if you look at a block of 38 games. What you have to do is break them into more manageable sections, then you can focus for a certain amount of games. You can then take a look back, review and focus on the next bit.

"It’s easier to overcome a long season like that, and we do that as a matter of course. It's something I have always done that in all the jobs I have been in, and the Villa game was the end of our first phase. Our review of that has been very good, and what we have to do now is make sure is that the one ahead of us is as successful as the one we have just completed.

"We know what we are capable of, we’ve shown glimpses in games where we have been outstanding. But, I don’t think we have played for the full 90 minutes as yet. That’s exciting, because we know there is more to come."

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