Fan's eye view: By Andrew Binner
9:27am Monday 9th August 2010 in Fulham
Last week Mark Hughes was announced as Fulham's new manager for the 2010-2011 season and the Cottagers should be delighted with the new appointment at Craven Cottage.
Sparky, as he was affectionately known during his playing career that included spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester United is said to be impressed by the ambition at Fulham and is a good appointment for two main reasons.
Firstly, he is not Jose Mourinhio.
By this, I mean whilst boasting an enviable CV including successful managerial spells of the Welsh national team, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, he does not grab the limelight at every given opportunity boasting as big, if not a bigger, profile than the club he is serving.
Whilst Real Madrid's new man is undoubtedly a fantastic coach for the top teams in the world, a quieter approach more focussed on the football is what Fulham really need at his point.
In this way Hughes can carry on the great work of last season's manager Roy Hodgson, whilst still implementing his own philosophy and style to the team, as opposed to completely restructuring the club to suit himself and represent his brand; something that “the Special One's” new charges in Madrid can expect this season.
The second valuable asset Hughes could potentially bring to West London is a host of top name signings he brought to Manchester City, who have become disillusioned under Hughes' successor Roberto Mancini, and never really got over the manner in which popular Hughes lost his job to the Italian.
Hodgson's late departure to Liverpool has left Hughes with not as much transfer time as he would have deemed ideal (a notion Fulham Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed publicly criticised Hodgson for this week) but will have Santa Cruz, Ireland and Bellamy in his sights to provide much-needed supplementing last season's front man Bobby Zamora on loan deals if nothing else.
However Hughes has defensive retention problems to address as well as recruitment of fire-power for his first season in charge as his priority for the immediate future has to be to retain the services of veteran Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (currently being courted by Arsenal) and Brede Hangeland (the Norwegian captain).
Following defender Chris Smalling's move north to Manchester United, Fulham managed to capture the signing of Philippe Senderos on a three-year deal for this season, but the manager will be keen to avoid any other departures saying in a recent conference: “It's not my intention to allow the better players at Fulham Football Club to leave the club”.
Hughes is showing signs of being the pragmatic manager the Cottagers need, setting out his ambitions for the club in a recent press conference as a top ten finish in the league and a good run in the cup, despite his new owner Mohamed Al Fayed's jovial protestations to the press (coupled with the symbolic handing over of a £50 note for new signings) that his new manager can “take Fulham to the championship” (meaning the Premier league of course).
Provided Hughes can recruit a new striker, whilst retaining some of last seasons top performers Fulham's new man may just be the man to provide the spark to bigger and better things for Craven Cottage this season.
After a pre season fixture at Werner Bremen to test his new charges for the first time this Saturday, Hughes will be looking to make a winning start to the season with a tough away match at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, 14 August.