Defeat was indefensible – Hughes

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes
City are 13th in the Premier League after just six victories

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes described his side’s shock FA Cup third-round exit at the hands of Nottingham Forest as “indefensible”.

Championship strugglers Forest enjoyed a 3-0 win, with goals from Nathan Tyson, Robert Earnshaw and Joe Garner.

Hughes said: “I wouldn’t defend it, because it’s indefensible. We are disappointed with the performance.”

In insisting he was the right man for the City job, Hughes added: “I know exactly what is needed here.”

Forest, hovering one place above the Championship relegation zone on goal difference, sacked manager Colin Calderwood on Boxing Day after defeat to Doncaster.

Now it is Hughes who looks increasingly under threat after Forest’s caretaker manager John Pemberton masterminded a famous win as new boss Billy Davies, who takes charge on Monday, watched from the stands.

Hughes has so far been backed by the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners despite a disappointing start to the season, but he will undoubtedly feel the heat after a poor display.

The Welshman admitted his side had been second best to the visitors.

“They showed more desire and energy in their play. They forced us into errors and took their chances,” he said.

“I didn’t expect the other team to show more desire but I am just being honest.”

Hughes, who has presided over just six Premier League victories since succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson in the summer, pleaded for more time to develop the team, currently 13th in the league.

“We know where we are in development terms and we know where we need to go. We know the areas of the squad we have to strengthen and we will try to do that,” said the former Wales boss.

“It is not going to happen in this window, or even two or three. We need more time.

“I am not telling anyone anything they didn’t see themselves. I have known the frailties in the team from day one.”

City were without Brazilian playmaker Robinho and the influential Stephen Ireland but nevertheless fielded a side many would have expected to ease into the fourth round.

The home side suffered a serious setback in the 18th minute when Shaun Wright-Phillips, lively in the opening stages, was forced from the field with a hamstring injury.


From that point onwards matters quickly deteriorated for the home side.

“You need leaders, people who drive the game and affect it in a positive way,” said Hughes, whose players were booed by the home fans.

“I’m concerned with the collective showing of the team. Without the shining lights of the season so far, like Robinho, Shaun and Stephen, we looked lacking.

“We’ve possibly relied too much on those players and allowed them to carry the team and without them we weren’t good enough.

“If we have more than one, two or three players below their best then we struggle to win games. We have shown that throughout the season.”

Pemberton described Forest’s victory as “dream stuff”.

“A massive amount of credit must go to the players, they were unbelievable and we turned out as worthy winners,” he said.

“I just wanted the lads to give a good account of themselves and get them ready to play.

“Winning is fantastic but on Monday morning I will be back to my normal job, getting the reserve team ready for a game against Lincoln City away on Wednesday.”

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