Former City manager Mark Hughes has returned to the Premier League taking the place of Roy Hodgson who departed Craven Cottage for the "warmer" climes of Merseyside. I'm pleased; I think it's an excellent fit for the former Blackburn and Wales manager and the current Fulham squad has enough quality to survive the first season of the Hughes Revolution.
Hughes appears, certainly based on his Blackburn and City stints, to be a manager that has a very specific type of player that he prefers. Invariably Craig Bellamy and RSC have been linked and if either leaves City that is certainly a logical destination. As with all of the club's high earners the wages will be a stumbling block in such a move. At least one newspaper has suggested that Bellamy might move on a transfer while RSC would go via loan.
Curiously Stephen Ireland has also been linked. On the surface, based on the midfielders play two season's ago I can see why this connection would be made. However these reports seem to over look Ireland's interview last year where he blamed Hughes for the poor form at the start of the year.
My sense is that Hughes will move quickly in the market for three or four players a couple of whom will come from City. Similarly in January I would expect Fulham to be busy. That being said I would also expect Fulham to finish in the lower half of the table this season before moving back into the top half of the table in 2011-12.
I remain conflicted about Hughes. It's possible I may have been one of the first to call for him to go when he started using Darius Vassell instead of Elano. It's not something I particularly relished, it is after all the man's livelihood regardless of how much such managers are paid. Some will argue that with such paydays come such pressure - maybe accurately - but still, agitating to get someone fired is not the greatest feeling in the world.
Further I found the handling of Hughes dismissal to be quite disgraceful and reflected poorly on the club and Garry Cook. Not the City way. So as much as I wanted Hughes to leave and as convinced that I was, and am, that City could never reach the heights under his leadership I've also looked forward to his return to Premier League management. Hughes is good enough to manage in the Premier League and Fulham to my mind is an absolutely perfect fit.
The top eight in the Premier League seem pretty set but each year one or two clubs are going to challenge that core group. With patience from Fulham's owner this year, I can see Hughes doing that for a long time.