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Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Hughes receives Hartson backing

John Hartson
Hartson retired from international football in 2005

Former Wales international striker John Hartson has given his backing to Manchester City's under fire manager Mark Hughes.

The 2-1 defeat at home to Tottenham on Sunday means Hughes' team have now lost their last three top-flight matches.

But Hartson, 33, who played a key part in Wales' revival under the leadership of Hughes who was in charge until 2004, leapt to his defence.

He said: "It's ridiculous to say he is under pressure 12 games into a season."

Hughes, 45, quit Blackburn Rovers in the summer to take over from Sven-Goran Eriksson at Eastlands.

Soon after his arrival, owners UK Sports Investments Ltd, which was led by former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, sold the club.

New owners the Abu Dhabi United Group, who are backed by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan have brought an unrivalled spending power to the top flight.

But Hughes has registered four wins, a draw and seven defeats in the Premier League this season despite the signing of 32.5m Brazilian superstar Robinho.

The club's poor form has generated speculation that the new owners may lose patience with the team's inability to find consistency on the pitch.

Mark Hughes
Hughes took over at Eastlands on 5 June

But Swansea-born Hartson said: "I know he has spent a lot of money, but what do people expect?

"Do people really expect Manchester City to have won 12 out of 12?

"Mark has a job to do and he is trying to win football matches and he is working extremely hard to get it right.

"This is all new to him as well remember.

"I know Mark has played at a great level in his life, but he has never been under this sort of scrutiny as a manager."

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has labelled reports claiming City are set to replace Hughes as "rubbish".

"We on the board have the highest regard for Mark," Al Mubarak told the club's official website. "I am personally committed to him."

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see also
Hughes safe in job, say Man City
10 Nov 08 |  Man City
Hughes becomes Man City manager
05 Jun 08 |  Man City

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