I’ve never liked Mark Hughes. He’s annoying because he doesn’t seem to realise what an unpleasant character he is. This is what I wrote about him in my new (at the time) Anger Management column in The Gooner, back in 2007, when he was attempting to manage Blackburn:
Mark Hughes, Bad News
Others may comment on the same subject, but I make no apology for adding to the chorus: I don’t like Mark Hughes, never have. As a player he was like a slightly more talented Robbie Savage, with the same geographical disadvantage. He snarled, kicked and elbowed opponents, and as far as I can recall never managed a smile throughout his career. Fitting then that watching his current team doesn’t bring a smile to anyone’s face. No wonder crowds are down at Blackburn and they were the first club to promise reduced prices when the extra TV money kicks in. But what really bugs me is his ridiculous outpourings every time Arsenal play his muppets. Last season Cesc took the urine out of him and then had to apologise (which he shouldn’t have, as he – Cesc – was right), and every time we play them, however much they are outplayed and saved by a flukey goal or dodgy decision, Hughes always claims his team deserved at least a point. He’s either blind, mad or a congenital liar. Blackburn are the footballing equivalent of Geoff Boycott, another person for whom entertainment was simply not on the agenda. Arsène and Arsenal have done more than anyone to make football worth watching this century. If every team played the Mark Hughes way, does the Welsh whinger really think there would even be the promise of greater TV riches, or indeed any fans in the stadium? “You only came to see the Arsenal” has never been so true.
Why is Johan Djourou at Birmingham? Not because Arsenal can’t afford his wages. Can’t be because AW doesn’t like him (though that would be good reason to send someone to Birmingham) or he’d have been sold. Can’t be he’s not good enough for Arsenal because he plainly is. So it must be that Arsène expected no injuries to centre backs, thinks Djourou requires experience, and rates Senderos more highly – all of which are daft. Two weeks later, Gallas injured and Senderos banned. Why have a wafer-thin squad if we don’t need to? I love Arsène, but this strikes me as an example of his blind spot. Welcome to the back four, Gilberto.