Mark Hughes resigns: this time a grown-up response

And now for the grownup response.

If anything Hughes’ resignation makes me more glad I renewed my season ticket. Which sounds odd, but at no point did I especially warm to Mark Hughes. Not that warming to a manager matters a hill of beans in the big scheme of things, but Hughes and Fulham never did feel quite right.

Perhaps this was because Hughes felt – and I think we sensed this – he was out of our league from the start. Hughes has just said that he is “ambitious”, but was he not ambitious when he joined us? Presumably so. He might as well have said “I had nothing better to do so I took the job.”

Does this matter? Apart from Gera and Paintsil nobody really lost out under Hughes, and the likes of Baird, Hangeland, Sidwell, Davies and Dempsey all progressed. Moussa Dembele could go either way, but seems likely to turn into a huge asset. Matthew Briggs got some serious experience. For the first time in years we showed some good form away from Craven Cottage. Hughes has arguably left the club in a better state than he found it in, which we shouldn’t forget.

The problem is that for teams of our stature, progress is difficult and collapse is easy. It takes a lot of good work to take a club like Fulham to the top half of the table, the right man has to make the right decisions and get some luck along the way. Hughes lost Bobby Zamora – a key player – and wasn’t too far off the sack when we went to Stoke and won 2-0 (thanks to two Chris Baird goals..). These are the margins, and lesser managers, or good managers who don’t quite work out, will find that the Fulham job is far from an easy one, that Hodgson and Hughes are hard acts to follow.

So yes, the board have made good appointments, and we’ve been lucky to enjoy the on-field success that this has brought about. But the burning question, the vital question, is whether they can do it again. Hughes’ legacy is to have not broken a good thing. His successor must be able to do the same.

19 thoughts on “Mark Hughes resigns: this time a grown-up response

    1. At the risk of being pedantic…

      if the fair play rules go into effect, or even if they dont and Fayed doesn’t decide to blow 100 million more on the team, then here are your issues:

      Stadium: the Cottage has a smaller capacity than most stadiums, and even if it sells out, the prices are still mostly reasonable compared to some teams. Nevermind being dwarfed by the Emirates or Old Trafford, even places like the Stadium of Light are more or less double the size.

      This matters, primarily because since TV income is fixed, and your league placement income is to some degree capped (Fulham aren’t winning the league or anything crazy), the variables in the equation are extra match income from europe, merchandise, but primarily gate recepts from local games, which again are much more restricted.

      Roy Keane, if he was a great manager, or maybe Kevin Keegan the first time at Newcastle, filling up that ground, can generate I’m guessing a million extra pounds a match, multipled by 20 or so home matches, that’s the equivalent of 100k higher in wages, PLUS a 15 million pound transfer purchase every year, or avoiding having to sell someone.

      Of course many of the managers in the northeast and midlands with larger stadiums haven’t done that, but that’s why the potential is there.

      One of the reason Fulham continues to attract many american fans even after most of them have left is that it truly is an underdog story, especially as while the club has run at a loss, it isnt a huge loss or merely a plaything.

      THe results have exceeded the spend, and at some point it only takes one Lawrie Sanchez to bring that reversion to the mean in a hard and unpleasant manner.

  1. I take that to mean ‘teams not flush with money’.

    ‘Progress is difficult and collapse is easy’ … very true.

    Nice post.

  2. Very nicely stated. You captured my feelings exactly. It kills me, however, to be spurned repeatedly by our coaches as they accept “better” opportunities. Where do we go from here, i.e., getting a new coach, making roster changes, introducing a new system, prep for Europe competition, etc.?

    1. We have been “spurned repeatedly”, now that it has happened twice. And too soon. And it’s hurtful and damaging, for sure. But until last summer, it had not happened in the last 50 years at least, probably longer, and possibly ever. We were always previously the ones doing the firing.

      To have managers we wish to keep, but can’t is one of the less desirable offshoots of success, and we shall have to get accustomed to it probably till one them makes us failures again.

      1. Quote from the Fulham board when James McIntyre was let go in the 30s:

        “we did not feel disposed to retain a manager who was not in agreement on all points. At the same time we have parted good friends. It is just as if Mr McIntyre had died suddenly.

  3. I remember some of the quotes he made on signing with Fulham suggested he only really considered us a stepping stone.

    I’m still p-ssed of he’s left us in the lurch with little time to adjust. Was really excited about what he might achieve with more time to sort out the squad.

    1. Really? Because I am totally not seeing that. Hodgson left last year at a horrible time – late August, when the team only had a couple weeks to go to get ready for the season. Hughes is leaving at exactly the right time for everybody. This is the season when people get fired and also go onto new positions.

      So let’s get some speculation going here! Who is going to replace the man?

      1. What are You talking about? Hodgson left in early July. We just couldn’t find anyone until August. Hughes leaving now is much worse. He knowingly leaves the cottage with only 28 days until Europa qualifiers. In reality the board needs to hire someone soon to properly expand the squad.

          1. Agree, Hodgson’s leaving didn’t help. Hughes couldn’t realistically have gone much earlier so at least that helps us. No reason we can’t do the Prelims with a caretaker if need be.

  4. In a way it’s tough. The Cottage limits gross intake and to some degree to really spend Fayed has to decide to use his proceeds from the sale of Harrods, which may be impossible with the new fairplay rules anyway. If anything the best hope might be that big spending teams are forced to come down rather than us going up.

    In some ways the team is a pretty attractive proposition to manage. Where alot of bad clubs are stuck with truly unsaleable assets whos wages no one else would pay for on a free even (Joe Cole anyone?) Fulham have the other problem and if they decide to sell Dembele for example i think they’d make a very nice profit. So the short term upside is there, probably for another talented but “ambitious” manager.

    If you want baseless speculation how about QuiQui Flores?

  5. hughes was always going to go, and we couldnt have hoped for better timing if we get a replacement quick. The new manager will have an excellent chance to get to know his players through the europa league qualifications.
    I think we will be able to get a very decent manager at very least. I am hoping for Martin Jol.

  6. I dont really know what to say. He obviously thinks he is ‘bigger’ than the club – with little justification as he failed at Man City.

    A smart manager would have left at the end of next season, but Hughes obviously thought he should leave on a ‘high’

    The real story here? If Hughes is employed this summer, it will be 4 jobs in 3 years, and once you are on the road to be a journeyman manager, it is hard to get off it. Bitter? Maybe but I think he has shown his true colours here.

  7. I always say sparky as more of a transitional manager anyway. I don’t think many Fulham fans saw him in it for the long haul, well I certainly didnt. After Hodgson I think we just needed someone to steady the ship, make sure we dont get relegated, and if you think about it Hughes has probably exceeded expectation. I don’t really hold that much ill-will towards him, I don’t like him personally, but its not like this was a shocking piece of news, and I don’t think he can be blamed too much. Plus I genuinely believe he really enjoyed his time by the river, and will always look back on it fondly. Furthermore we can’t really accuse him of showing no passion, after all he got sent to the stands against Wolves away, and on numerous occasions upset other managers (Pulis comes to mind).

    As for who I want to see come in. I want to see Lee Clark. His record with Huddersfield is great, 3 seasons, finished 8th, 6th and 3rd. Progression every year. He has history with the club, being our club captain in 04/05, he has premier league coaching experience with Newcastle, and mainly (for me anyway) he is a promising young English manager, the likes of which are becoming evermore rare in the Premier League. With our squad, I don’t see too many issues with the threat of relegation next season, so any inexperience Clark may show hopefully would not be too detrimental to our club. Also if we take a punt on Clark we can tie him down for the long term, and let him build the team himself, take us out of the Hodgson era and move us on.

    It would be a definite risk, and a safe pair of hands like Martin Jol may seem more attractive. I am just looking at successful managers and clubs, they achieve success by staying with the same manager for multiple season. I think its time for Fulham to step up and take a risk, and hopefully enjoy more success with a long term manager at our helm. Lee Clark, I’m looking at you.

    1. Totally agree on Clark.

      Don’t want any part of Jol who parlayed our interest into an improved position at Ajax (at least for a few months). Same for O’Neill who really mismanaged his transfer and wage budget at Villa.

      Was hoping that Hughes would stay, but really don’t care that he left. What’s funny is that for such an “ambitious” manager, he seemed totally out of his depth when he was at City. The toughest part of managing at a big club is effectively dealing with the board room and he clearly didn’t do a good job with that.

    2. I don’t think Clark would be right we need a manager with Prem experience and I also don’t think MAF would trust him with any transfer money the same way he didn’t give Coleman any cash despite selling the likes of Saha, Finnan and Malbranque, yet he sacked Coleman and gave Sanchez £25M to spend on players and you have to spend just to stand still in this league

  8. Our (extended) thoughts on the Sparky Saga if you’re interested

    Got to say this though. Personal feeling is that Hughes never felt right, certainly post-Hodgson (but then again, who would?). As he says, he’s ambitious, and our (Fulham’s) realistic ambitions are survival (obviously), but top ten finishes (seventh if everything goes perfectly) and a run in a cup (domestic or European). For a man who saw Tevez and Robinio arrive on Eastlands, and who could manage “£26m man DBent & AYoung etc” or the Chelsea millionaires or the Ribery/Robben likes in Munich, little ole Fulham just doesn’t compare.

    It’s a shame though, as I’d started to take to him (a few away wins certainly helped). The hope is that a decent/experience manager comes in (Martin O’Neill), because “progress is difficult and collapse is easy” etc. However, the club is well placed – there are decent players and a solid, efficient set-up, whoever replaces him (O’Neill / Jol / McLaren even) would have to cock-up monumentally for us to drop, and unless Avram Grant comes a-knocking (or Lawrie Sanchez for that matter), I think we’ll be just fine. Cozily mid-table, hoping for a cup run…

  9. Hughes was just playing Guitar Hero. Roy Hodgson wrote the song.

    (I actually wrote a much longer analogy comparing Hughes to an girlfriend you were never really sure about until she left. But I can’t be bothered to type it out here).

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