Sunday, 2 June 2013


ABOVE: Mark Hughes has benefited for a chat with Sir Alex Ferguson
I really enjoyed that and I’m glad I did it because I was not aware he was going to jack it in.
Mark Hughes on his chat with Sir Alex Ferguson
2nd June 2013

By Steve Millar

MARK HUGHES has revealed how a session with “The Hairdryer” helped give him the spark to relight his ­managerial flame.

Hughes, who gave his old Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson the nickname for his fiery blasts, had been kicking his heels in his six-month exile after being sacked by QPR.

He had been through a difficult 11-month spell at Loftus Road, ­winning only eight out of 34 games in charge.

And the man known as Sparky was bitterly criticised, his management skills questioned – and he admits he fought the demons of self-doubt.

But his face-to-face chat with Sir Alex left him determined to prove the snipers wrong. And Hughes, 49, feels he can now prove that as Stoke City’s new boss.

He said: “It was difficult but I had the opportunity of going to speak to Sir Alex for an hour, which I have not done for many years.

“I really enjoyed that and I’m glad I did it because I was not aware he was going to jack it in.

“I had asked to see him. I met him at a league managers’ get-together back in early January and asked if it was possible to pop in and have a ­ sit-down chat.

“I knew he would agree to it ­because he is always very open like that. I’m really pleased that I did.

“I don’t want to go into ­specifics. We had a general chat about football. A few things came out. I was just really pleased to be in his company.

“It’s something I should have done on more occasions than I did in the past. I did it and understood the ­value that it gave me.

“Yes another mistake – I should have done it more often.”

Whatever was said in that private meeting, Ferguson’s words of wisdom on the game he was about to leave, had the desired effect.

So did Hughes leave the chat room with a spring in his step?

He added: “Yeah. Yes. I just enjoy his company really. If he has given you time he is great company and that will never change.”

Hughes is delighted to be back in business.

And with the strong Stoke squad he inherits from outgoing Tony ­Pulis, he believes he can take the club ­forward in leaps and bounds.

He has been ­handed a three-year deal and cannot wait to get started, meet his new ­players and hit the ground ­running at the start of next season.

Time then to banish the blues of even daring to doubt your own ability. Hughes said: “At times you have self doubt but you have to be strong in your own mind.

“You need to remind yourself what you achieved.

“Not only as a player but also as a ­manager. And that keeps you in good stead.

Hughes, who had two spells at United as a player, plus stints with Barcelona and Bayern Munich ­before playing for Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers, said: “All my career has been at the top level. And the experiences enable me to operate as I do.

“There are moments when you question your decision making.

“Sometimes you make good sound decisions and ­sometimes with hindsight they are ­completely wrong.

“As long as you can ­recognise that and learn from it, you move ­forward as a person and a ­manager.”

So, is it nerve-wracking for ­Hughes to be back in the hotseat?

Not half as nerve-wracking as ­yesterday’s family wedding.

Hughes said: “I have a speech to write for my son’s wedding and I haven’t done it.

“It’s all happening at once. But it’s going to be great.”