Thaksin Lays Down Gauntlet For Hughes: Top Six or Bust; 50 Million Available for Transfers; Wide-Ranging Thaksin Interview

Mark Hughes has yet to be officially unveiled as City manager as I type this, but already word has hit the British press that the new Blues boss must finish in the top 6 and qualify for Europe next campaign if he doesn’t want to become Thaksin’s next managerial casualty.

Reports indicate that between 35 and 50 million pounds will be made available for summer transfers for the new manager, with 18-20 million of that already committed to buying Brazilian striker Jo. The Guardian suggests that David Bentley may come from Blackburn for 7 million, giving City needed balance on the right side of the midfield and another set piece threat.

Will all this be enough to prevent Richard Dunne and others from jumping ship? That remains to be seen.

As for Hughes’s position, at least he can’t complain about the terms of his employment being ambiguous. But there is a danger in setting such a firm target, namely that it might lead the manager to make short-term decisions that sacrifice the club’s long-term health. Hughes won’t be able to turn his attention to nurturing the younger players or have the luxury of buying players for the future; or to put it another way, if he does do that, he’ll be a saint. Rather, the pressure will be on to perform right away. There are lot of other clubs that want to be in the top six too, and some of them have the resources to match City (Newcastle, Tottenham). Hughes has his work cut out for him, but I suppose no one can call him a coward for taking on this particular job.

For more on Thaksin’s latest statement on City, see this lengthy interview conducted in China recently.

Some choice comments on last season from City’s owner: “‘I want this club to advance faster, much faster. Sven is a good football general, but we need more. We must play with more consistency, much more urgency. In the second half of the season, the slide was too bad, too much. We lost 8-1 at Middlesbrough! The shame of that.’

‘The team stopped playing! They stopped working! I could not take this. I understand you cannot win every game. A football is round; it does not bounce along a straight line. I can accept the unpredictable, but not such a fall. We had to make a change.

‘Mark Hughes is an excellent appointment. The players need to be motivated, instead of playing like people who are not being paid any money!’

Thaksin is also asked about the war on drugs under his watch. Thaksin’s reponse:

What about the reports of almost 3,000 killings in an aggressive offensive against drugs? ‘Sometimes, as a leader you must have an angry face. In the past, I have ignored these allegations published in the Thai media, with whom I have no relationship. The foreign media has since picked them up and this is damaging. Now you are asking me these questions and I am happy to answer.

‘These figures you have read are not true. They are figures created by the military. I was not a ruthless dictator. No. There have been investigations: The Premier League, for example, has ways of investigating these matters, I welcomed the Fit and Proper Persons Test for new owners for that reason.’

That’s a fairly preposterous response by Thaksin–in fact the numbers of those killed by the drug war were announced by his own government as the “war” unfolded.

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