MANCHESTER, December 21 – Mark Hughes confirmed on Sunday that he had no idea he was about to be sacked as Manchester City manager following the club's 4-3 victory at home to Sunderland.Saturday’s win left City sixth in the English Premier League table but, having spent some 200 million pounds on players, City’s Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour decided a run of two wins in 11 Premier League games wasn’t good enough.
Hughes was sacked on Saturday and in the same statement City announced that Roberto Mancini, the former Inter Milan boss, would be their new manager.
After Saturday’s final whistle, Hughes applauded all sections of the Eastlands ground and appeared to wave goodbye to the fans.
But in a statement issued through the League Managers’ Association, Hughes made it clear he had no prior knowledge he was about to be dismissed.
"I was informed after yesterday’s (Saturday’s) match against Sunderland that my contract with Manchester City was being terminated with immediate effect," Hughes said.
"Notwithstanding media coverage to the contrary, I was given no forewarning as to the club’s decision.
"Given the speed with which my successor’s appointment was announced, it would appear that the club had made its decision some considerable time ago.
"I am extremely disappointed not to have been given the opportunity to see through my plans at the club," the Welshman added.
"At the beginning of the season I sat down with the owners and it was agreed that a realistic target for the season would be sixth place in the Barclays Premier League, or in the region of 70 points.
"All of this was communicated to the players and we all knew where we stood," the former Manchester United striker added.
It seemed as if Hughes, who has steered City to this season’s League Cup semi-final against Manchester United, was paying the price for the club’s eight league draws this season, with City’s fallible defence often unable to match the quality of their attack.
Hughes said: "Whilst everyone at the club would obviously have wanted to see more wins, we were absolutely on target at the time of my dismissal.
"Only recently we had terrific victories against both Arsenal and Chelsea."
Hughes said he understood the pressure for success that came with such a massive investment in new players but said he was saddened he had not been given the time to oversee the success he was sure was on its way to City.
"I have always been aware of the responsibility that comes with being afforded the luxury of a significant transfer budget, and I was grateful that the club supported me with significant investment in players," he said.
"I very much regret, however, that I will not now be able to enjoy the success that would undoubtedly have followed in the light of that investment."
His statement continued: "I would like to thank the fans for their support throughout my time at the club and particularly at this difficult time.
"I wish the club every success in the future, particularly in relation to the forthcoming Carling (League) Cup semi-final, the club’s first semi-final for 28 years."
A statement issued by City’s owners on Saturday made it clear they did not think Hughes was "on target".
"A return of two wins in 11 Premier League games is clearly not in line with the targets that were agreed and set," said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak in a statement explaining Hughes’s departure.
"Sheikh Mansour (City’s owner) and the board felt that there was no evidence that the situation would fundamentally change."
Mancini is due to hold his first news conference as City manager on Monday.