“That Sometimes Means Making Ruthless Decisions”

I’ve been re-reading of late Duncan McCargo’s excellent study “The Thaksinization of Thailand,” published before the coup, which devotes considerable attention to how Thaksin managed and manipulated the media as prime minister of Thailand. There’s a lot to chew on there, and I continue to be amazed at the fact that leading British journalists don’t bother to give McCargo, who teaches at the University of Leeds, a ring to discuss Thaksin’s venture into English football. One particular item with direct relevance for today is an incident from 2001, when the Shin Corporation “purchased a controlling interest in iTV, an `independent’ television station with a reputation for strong and critical news coverage. More than 20 of the more outspoken iTV journalists were immediately fired; there was a general perception that scrutiny of Thai Rak Thai was subsequently toned down.” On a related note, a regular reader of this site has passed on information about a new documentary (“Truth be Told”) regarding a reporter for the Thai Post (one of the few media outlets willing to have a go at Thaksin during his reign of power) who was sued by the regime for millions after publishing an article suggesting the Shin Corporation was benefiting from Thaksin’s political rule.

Thaksin confirmed yesterday that this modus operandi has extended to his leadership of Manchester City; he finally provided public comment on Sven’s dismissal and the (now confirmed) appointment of Mark Hughes by saying “ “These are exciting times for Manchester City and I hope the supporters can understand that I share their goals. That sometimes means making ruthless decisions. Now we can go forward to a new era, with a new management structure and great hope and ambition.”

That statement has been enough to placate some City fans, but certainly not all. Consider this response from a fan on the Blue Moon message board:

Now please tell me how can any Chairman gain the full support and commitment of his fans whom he apparently shares our goals with when in less than his first year at the club he appoints a manger who by his own admission is world class, sets him a target which he achieves and possibly betters with European qualification and then sacks him and replaces him with an ex-Rag and not one that was wishy washy but one that was a complete arrogant obnoxious whingeing cheating twat of a player.

My question is how does he expect the supporters to be fully 100% committed and behind him when he has in two days split them apart by 2/1 or 3/1 depending on whom you believe in favour of this appointment. The man must either be completely unaware and seperated from the DNA of this club and its supporters or he has got some complete twats advising him or else he’s simply a f*ing lunatic of the highest order.”

Nonetheless, at the moment 82% of City fans are reported to be pleased with Hughes’s appointment, according to a Manchester Evening News poll.

My view is that Hughes is a very competent manager who if left to do his job might do well at City for a time. But even in the best case scenario, City won’t be able to keep him for very long (if he succeeds, he’ll be a natural to get snapped up by one of the traditional big four…including possibly Manchester United.) And, the fact that Hughes is probably a better choice than some of the other names (I’m convinced Big Phil would have been a disaster) bandied about in no way excuses or justifies the dismissal and overall treatment of Sven.

Moreover, on what evidence can we think that Thaksin really will now get out of the way and show the patience–over years–to allow the new manager to build a side with staying power? Yes, the new boss and his new executive Garry Cook have issued some glowing comments about Hughes and his ability, but for everyone of those there’s ten more that were offered about Sven last season when things were going well.

After what happened with Sven, Hughes will have to know that at City he will be on a short leash; he’d be best advised to do very well early on and then get out before Thaksin decides it’s time for another “ruthless” decision.

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