Hughes insists he is here to stay

UNCERTAINTY has become the natural state of things since the City of Manchester stadium was transformed into ‘Middle Eastlands’ last summer, but at least someone at Manchester City appears to be sleeping easily.

Mark Hughes, the manager, insists there is no doubt over his own future at the club, despite a rather under-whelming campaign which has seen the club miss out on qualification for next season’s Europa League thanks to this tame defeat.

Hughes held talks with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak on Friday evening and, according to the Welshman, Al Mubarak was as “frustrated and bemused” as he was about suggestions there would be a change of management at Eastlands over the summer.

“We’re very clear with where we want to go with the club and what direction we are taking on and off the field,” he said.

“We are in tune with what we want to do but we are totally frustrated and bemused by the speculation. It’s come to a point where everyone has to understand that Mark Hughes will be the manager here next year. That has been made very clear to me.

“There has been too much speculation about players and my future,” he said.

“It has made my job more difficult than it already is. There will be issues and expectations next year but I would like to think speculation about my future will be at a lesser level because it has been unhelpful.”

Hughes was not the only one in north London harbouring a grievance. Jermain Defoe also spoke out after his Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp suggested the club had a drinking culture.

Spurs have been in the spotlight since Ledley King’s arrest last week, while Defoe was upset about photos of him enjoying a night out in London.

Redknapp plans to ban his players from nightclubs but Defoe, a teetotaller, insists his mum would keep him on the straight and narrow anyway.

“You have to be professional, especially coming back from injury,” Defoe said. “My Mum would knock me out anyway! If you think about it, if I was one of those people drinking every week I don’t think I’ll be able to perform how I perform.”

Defoe made the perfect response to any doubts over his professionalism when he scored the opener against Manchester City, with Robbie Keane scoring the winner from the penalty spot after Valeri Bojinov had levelled.

TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Gomes 6, Corluka 6, Woodgate 6 (Hutton 46, 6), King 7, Assou-Ekotto 6, Huddlestone 7, Keane 7, Jenas 6 (Zokora 67, 6), Modric 6, Pavlyuchenko 5 (Campbell 75, 6), Defoe 7.

Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Bale, Bentley, Chimbonda.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Given 7, Richards 5, Dunne 6, Onuoha 6, Bridge 6, Kompany 6, De Jong 7, Ireland 6, Elano 5 (Zabaleta 32, 6), Petrov 5 (Bojinov 61, 7), Caicedo 5 (Benjani 61, 5).

Subs Not Used: Hart, Fernandes, Sturridge, Berti.

REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire) 6: Correct for the decisive penalty decision.

MATCH RATING: *** Both sides are already looking forward to the summer, but this was reasonable entertainment.

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