Hughes banks on his window of opportunity

FOR a manager boasting the kind of budget that would make many world leaders turn pea-green with envy, Mark Hughes can be a miserable soul.

The Manchester City manager is losing patience with what he terms the “ludicrous” levels of speculation surrounding his transfer targets, post-Abu Dhabi takeover.

Since City were transformed into the world’s wealthiest club in August, City have been linked with a host of high-profile players, with money seemingly no object in the new owners’ quest for success.

Brazil striker Robinho was brought in for a record transfer fee, and a number of others, including Milan’s Kaka and Blackburn’s Roque Santa Cruz are reportedly targets for the forthcoming transfer window.

But Hughes has warned that January is a difficult month for transfers, and has called for calm.

“It’s a little bit hysterical and ludicrous at the moment,” he said.

“When we go to the market, we’ll discuss players with the clubs directly and if we can do some business, if we generate the resources to do that and if we can bring in a bit of quality to the club, then that’s what we’ll try to do.

“I don’t think there’ll be many clubs spending a great deal in January so maybe it’s a competitive advantage we have in this window.”

On the evidence at Craven Cottage, where Darius Vassell failed to shine in the absence of the injured Robinho, City could do with reinforcements. Hughes insists he is happy with his players but admits he is always looking for improvements.

“I’ve got good players and a good squad,” he added. “We’ll try to improve it because that’s what every Premier League manager has to do.

“You always see which players are available and which ones you can bring in to improve the squad.

“In January we’ll make sure we get good players in to complement the quality we already have.”

City could have lost to Roy Hodgson’s side, had Clint Dempsey been more clinical and ref Rob Styles awarded a penalty for a handball appeal against Richard Dunne.

City also had several good chances after Jimmy Bullard’s lashed shot cancelled out Benjani’s early header, but Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was not satisfied with only a point.

“We’re not happy because we thought this was a game we could win,” he said.

“There is a fair amount of sadness, a bit of praise for the opposition and a few positives to take away.

“Good draws can only be mildly satisfying so I can’t be content with the fact we’ve only got one point.”

On Richard Dunne’s apparent handball, Hodgson added: “I’m a great believer in accidental handball and deliberate handball. Having seen it on TV, it does seem there was a definite movement of the hand towards the ball so I can suppose we can consider ourselves a little bit aggrieved.

“But I’m not complaining. I can only hope those things will even out over the course of the season and I’m sure they will.”

FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer 6, Pantsil 6, Hughes 6, Hangeland 7, Konchesky 6, Davies 6, Murphy 7, Bullard 8, Dempsey 7, Johnson 6, Zamora 6.

Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Gera, Etuhu, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Hart 7, Zabaleta 6, Dunne 5, Ben-Haim 6, Ball 6, Wright-Phillips 7, Kompany 6, Hamann 6, Vassell 6, Ireland 7, Benjani 7 (Evans 77, 5).

Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Berti, Onuoha, Logan, Jo, Caicedo.

REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire) 4: Appears unable to go a week without making another blunder. Richard Dunne’s handball was obvious to all but Styles.

MATCH RATING: ***Bright enough, with both teams suggesting they could challenge for a top eight finish.

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