Hughes demands high tempo
- Sun 25 Oct 2009, 9:23AM
- Posted byChris Bailey
Mark Hughes believes his men are ready to lay their recent Fulham bogey to rest.
The Cottagers have returned south with a maximum points haul three times in their last four trips to the Blues home and are the one Premier League blot on Hughes’ 2009 record at the City of Manchester Stadium.
An inspired City have won six home top flight fixtures in succession and eleven out of twelve since the turn of the year...the one blot is Fulham last April.
Hughes is hoping to welcome back both Kolo Toure and Craig Bellamy after each missed the draw at Wigan last week. He will be without the suspended Pablo Zabaleta but is confident that his side's winning trend will continue.
“We have lost at home the last two seasons to Fulham our record against them isn’t great in recent years though last year’s poor result has to be put in context in that we had a much changed team prior to the second leg of the Uefa Cup quarter final,” noted the manager.
“That compromised us too much and we were poor on the day but maybe things will work in reverse today because Fulham have played Hull City on Monday night and Roma on Thursday. They have had a busy week.”
Even so Hughes will not underestimate a side that improved out of all recognition under Roy Hodgson.
“They make it difficult for sides to break them down,” he acknowledged. “They have a good work ethic and established pattern of play with two banks of four.
The key for us will be tempo. If that is not at the required level then we will find it hard to catch them unawares.
“We need to be sharp and shift them around a bit. I am sure we will be at a high intensity and after their exertions this week they may be down on energy a little. Let’s hope that is the case.
“We have variety in our attacking ranks and lots of players who have different facets to their game.
“What we are finding this season at the City of Manchester Stadium is that teams are dropping off and allowing us to dictate possession and then hoping to catch us on the break. That is due to the respect they have for the talent that we can put up against them.
“We haven’t had a great deal of experience of that kind of tactic recently and we have to gather the experience to break teams down when they come and try to frustrate us.
“There is no doubt that teams are raising their game against us because we are seen as a bigger scalp this season. Playing City is a big game now.”
City will still be without the injured Robinho and Emmanuel Adebayor will have a late test on an injured ankle.