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Manchester City are title contenders - Mark Hughes

Fulham manager Mark Hughes

Hughes laments Fulham's 'difficult day'

Former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes says the club can be title contenders if they play in the same manner they did in trouncing his Fulham side.

City, now managed by Roberto Mancini, followed two successive 0-0 draws with a 4-1 thrashing of Fulham on Sunday.

"If they can be more attack-minded - as they were at Craven Cottage - on more occasions, there is no reason why they shouldn't be contenders," said Hughes.

"They were excellent. They've got as good a chance as anybody."

The victory ensured City moved back to fourth, only three points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Hughes was sacked by City in December and replaced by former Inter Milan boss Mancini, whose side had an identical record to his predecessor after 13 games last season, but having scored nine fewer goals.

Roberto Mancini

Mancini hails 'fantastic football'

Criticised for a lack of adventure - City had only scored three times in their previous five league games - and usurped in fourth place by a free-scoring Bolton on Saturday, Mancini has faced almost daily speculation about his future.

Earlier this month, the Italian dismissed reports of rifts in the City camp as the team struggled to mount a title challenge despite a £120m outlay on new players in the summer.

But any negativity surrounding Mancini his team was cast aside in a dominant display at Fulham.

City scored early through Carlos Tevez before fine goals from Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Toure made it 3-0 before half-time.

Tevez added a second after the break before Zoltan Gera netted a consolation goal.


"Last week I was a stupid manager who was six points behind," stated Mancini. "Now, I am the 'best manager' because I am only three points off the top of the league."

"This is not important. We must continue to work and improve every game, every day. Only that way can we win.

"But if we have a big problem and a big crisis and we are only three points behind United and Chelsea, then we are doing well.

"But, in our minds, we must only think about working."

Mancini was reluctant to single out a specific player for praise but suggested the performances of Argentine duo Tevez and Zabaleta may have been inspired by the presence of Diego Maradona in the crowd.

"I hope Diego can come again if this is the result," said Mancini. "The players played fantastic football this afternoon."

Meanwhile earlier on Sunday, City defender Kolo Toure was quoted in the News of the World newspaper saying the club should cut the wages of his team-mates unless they start working harder.

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see also
Fulham 1-4 Manchester City
21 Nov 10 |  Premier League
Sunday's Premier League photos
21 Nov 10 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
21 Nov 10 |  Football
Fourth spot would satisfy Mancini
12 Nov 10 |  Man City
Mancini defensive amid fans' fury
13 Nov 10 |  Premier League

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