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Alan Hansen's column

Alan Hansen
By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is in the firing line after the defeat at West Bromwich Albion saw them entrenched in the Premier League's bottom three.

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes has proved he is a good manager and Man City should stick with him

Alan Hansen

He has reacted calmly and spoken well about the pressures that come with modern-day management and the added profile that landed on his Eastlands doorstep with the arrival of the Abu Dhabi United Group and the tag of "the world's richest club".

I firmly believe Manchester City's new owners will stick with Hughes and allow him to continue the development of the club, but he will be alarmed to see them in the relegation places.

Hughes is a very talented manager, and I also do not see who City might get who would be better than him, so there should be no rush to question his position.

I do not think City will go down - Hughes has the financial firepower to address his problems in the January transfer window - but I have to say I thought they were appalling at The Hawthorns.

Talk of them breaking into the top four was always fanciful, but it is a surprise to see them where they are. They were second top scorers behind Chelsea before the West Brom game, but after watching them you wonder how that could possibly be the case.

City have been having a rough trot, but they were up against a team without a win in 10 games. West Brom were not bad, but at times I thought City were dreadful.

Hughes will be worried about the form of his two centre-backs Richard Dunne and Micah Richards, who have previously been two towers of strength.

Richards looks out of sorts and not the player he was when he had so much pace and strength that it was almost embarrassing.

Paul Ince
I would have liked to have seen Paul Ince get more time but Blackburn simply cannot contemplate the drop

Alan Hansen

He is a young player and hopefully it is just a blip coupled with a temporary loss of confidence, because Hughes will need Richards and Dunne back at their best quickly.

The return of Brazilian striker Robinho after injury will add much-needed firepower because they offered little up front against West Brom.

There was very little good news on offer for them on Sunday and January will be very interesting for City in terms of their transfer activity.

There has been all sorts of talk of big-name players from around the world pitching up at Eastlands, but it might not be so easy with City sitting near the bottom of the table.

Roque Santa Cruz looks increasingly like an arrival at Eastlands. He has hinted strongly he wants to leave Blackburn and if City can get him he will be a good signing.

But I think the really big-hitters may have to wait until the summer once Hughes has navigated City safely through the rest of the season.

For now, he will want to get his defence right, look to improve in attack and then try and fashion a move up the Premier League table.

I do not see City being in Europe next season given their current form, but even if that is the case I can still see them signing some very good players.

With the money available to them, City could certainly attract the best of the rest after Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Players will always come for good money. It is a fact of football life.

If City offer the same money as, say, Manchester United, the player will go to United - although if they offer half again or double the player might just blink.

As I said, I do not see Hughes' position being under threat. It would take something very drastic for that situation to change, although you never know what will happen in football these days if they have another three or four defeats.

We have seen that with managers like Paul Ince losing their jobs after only 17 league games in charge.

I would have liked to have seen Paul get more time, but you also have to see it from Blackburn's point of view.

They are not a sacking club, but the penalties for relegation are so great now that chairmen feel they have to act.

Blackburn chairman John Williams will have been looking at the situation, well aware that some clubs will go down and never come back - the footballing and financial consequences are too serious to contemplate.

In football terms, clubs can slip off the face of the earth if they go out of the top flight, and Williams was clearly aware of the dangers if their struggles continued.

Managers do not have a lot of time to get it right any more, and sadly this is why they are losing their jobs more quickly than they have in times gone by.

Alan Hansen was talking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

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see also
Hughes will get time at Man City
21 Dec 08 |  Premier League
West Brom 2-1 Man City
21 Dec 08 |  Premier League
Lowly Blackburn sack manager Ince
16 Dec 08 |  Blackburn
Garth Crooks' team of the week
16 Jan 11 |  Final Score

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