Hughes starts work at Fulham

Mark Hughes could be set to raid his old club after being confirmed as Fulham’s new manager.

Hughes has agreed a two-year deal with the Cottagers to become the successor to Roy Hodgson.

Fulham’s failure to prise Martin Jol from Ajax left Hughes in pole position and the former Manchester City boss will begin work at the club immediately.

He will take charge of his first match in a friendly against Werder Bremen on August 7 and be unveiled to the media next Tuesday.

But the most immediate task for Hughes will be to bring in fresh blood to a Fulham squad honed superbly by Hodgson before his departure for Liverpool.

He will also appoint his own regular backroom staff that includes assistant Mark Bowen, Kevin Hitchcock and Eddie Niedzwiecki.

Fulham’s first-team coach Ray Lewington, who was caretaker manager following Hodgson’s departure to Liverpool, is expected to stay after being assured there is a place for him at Craven Cottage. Goalkeeping coach Mike Kelly is expected to leave for Liverpool.

Hughes acknowledged Hodgson’s success, most notably taking them to the Europa League final last season, but declared that he already has a vision for the next stage of Fulham’s future.

“I have discussed my aspirations with both the chairman and (chief executive) Alistair Mackintosh and believe that we are aligned in our aims for what can realistically be achieved here,” Hughes told the club’s official website.

“I am joining on the back of two of the most successful seasons in the club’s history and that in itself brings with it the challenges of expectation and ambition.

“I am confident that with some additions to the squad, hard work and commitment, we can move this club forward in the right direction.

“I hope the Fulham fans will enjoy some special times during this season’s campaign and we will work hard to achieve that.

“I’m looking forward to working with the squad as soon as possible, and making sure the on-pitch preparations are complete before the first competitive ball is kicked in August.”

But Hughes faces a number of dilemmas. Firstly, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is a target for Arsenal and Hughes will need to pull out all the stops to persuade him to stay.

Left-back Paul Konchesky has also been linked with a move to Liverpool while Hughes will turn to former club Manchester City to try and land Craig Bellamy, Stephen Ireland and Roque Santa Cruz.

Hughes began his transition from a highly-decorated player to successful manager when he took charge of the Welsh national team in 1999.

He won praise for his efforts in the role, although he could not quite steer them to the major championships the nation desired.

He resigned his post in 2004, taking over at the club where he had ended his playing days, Blackburn.

From there he was appointed boss of Manchester City but despite pushing the club into the top six, the aspirations changed when Abu Dhabi United Group took charge.

The takeover made City the richest club in the world but even though Hughes spent heavily on players, the progress was not considered good enough and he was sacked last December.

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