Hot off the 1010001010101s of Newsnow: From The Times December 16, 2008 Mark Hughes given Manchester City backing by James Ducker Garry Cook reiterated yesterday that Mark Hughes has the backing of Manchester City's owners, although the club's executive chairman stopped short of confirming that the manager would remain in charge if the team are still hovering around the relegation zone at the end of the season. City are in seventeenth place in the Barclays Premier League after suffering their fifth defeat in eight league matches, at home to Everton on Saturday. Cook expressed confidence that they would finish in the top ten this season, and â€œideally [in the] top sixâ€, which is not impossible given that the club are expected to blow a hole in the transfer market next month, but it is clear that their present predicament remains unacceptable, not least to Sheikh Mansour, their billionaire Arab owner. â€œSheikh Mansour made that statement in his mandate some time ago and clearly that mandate still exists - Mark Hughes is our manager,â€ Cook said. â€œDid I expect us to be where we are? No. Did Mark? No. But you get back on the training ground and figure it out.â€ Asked whether Hughes will be in charge next season if City finish seventeenth this campaign, Cook added: â€œI don't think that anybody in this club - Khaldoon al-Mubarak [the chairman] and Sheikh Mansour - is having those thoughts at this time and nor should we. â€œWe can't predict the results and we can't predict the future. What we can predict is that today and for the foreseeable future, Mark Hughes is our manager. What we don't do is sit around worrying about what happens if it goes wrong.â€ The poor form of JÃ´, the Brazil striker who has struggled to make the grade at City since arriving for a projected Â£19million from CSKA Moscow in the summer, is an example of the dangers inherent in buying players not necessarily sanctioned by the manager, but Cook insisted yesterday that Hughes would have complete control over which players are bought in January and beyond. â€œWhatever has happened in the past, and Mark and I talk about this publicly and privately, we are managing the process by which we will look at the playing squad,â€ Cook said. â€œWe have got a very clear idea of who should be part of that and, more importantly, a very clear plan about how we should go about that. The key message from us is that we have control of what assets will become part of the football club. It's Mark's job.â€ Cook refused to rule out the possibility of another â€œsuperstarâ€ signing in the Robinho mould - â€œfans, who are spending their hard-earned money, want to see great starsâ€, he said - but added that it was important to find the right balance. â€œOur strategy doesn't just talk about buying the fantasy league XI, it's about balancing that with home-grown talent and young talent that is breaking into the international scene,â€ he said. ___________________________________________ From Teh Grauniad Tim Rich, The Guardian, Tuesday 16 December 2008 Manchester City's executive chairman, Garry Cook, admitted that, although the world's wealthiest club is far from where the new owners envisaged, their faith in the manager Mark Hughes remains absolute ahead of the January transfer window. Three months after the takeover by Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi United for Â£200m and the arrival of Robinho, ÂBritain's most expensive footballer, they control the fourth most successful club in Greater Manchester, behind Wigan, Bolton and their great rivals United, who have just flown to Japan to contest the World Club Championship. Only goal difference is keeping them clear of the relegation places. "It does surprise me where we are," said Cook. "But we knew it was not going to be a quick fix. A lot of people expected a light-switch to be flicked as soon as the club changed control. Yes, things have not gone according to plan but that does not mean we veer off our original strategy. "Sheikh Mansour is in step with that and Khaldoon Al Mubarak [the club chairman] is absolutely in step with that. We know the second half of the season will be better than the first and we want to bring some depth into the squad." How Hughes adds depth has been the source of frantic speculation. More than 50 world-class names, from Kaka to Gianluigi Buffon, have already been linked but the arrivals â€” at least in January â€” may be more modest. "We are talking about 'balance' rather than building the Fantasy League team," Cook said. "We are building on the academy; we are looking at young talent breaking into the international scene and we will complement that with some great stars, the kind of stars whom City fans want to see. "But there is a 'Manchester City effect'. There have been speculative rumours about salaries and transfer fees and that has been affecting our ability to have normal business discussions." Cook is adamant that there will be no repeat of the signing of Jo, the Brazilian striker who was bought on the say-so of the club's previous owner, Thaksin Shinawatra. _______________________________________ From The Independent By Ian Herbert Tuesday, 16 December 2008 Manchester City are facing a lay-out of around Â£20m for Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz, almost double their initial offer and a graphic example of an inflatory effect which the club's executive chairman Garry Cook warned yesterday could severely limit their ambitions in the January transfer window. Cook did not name names in the course of a discussion of his club in which he said that a top 10 finish and "ideally top six" was this season's goal â€“ they currently languish fourth from bottom â€“ but there is a limit to the money available and the club's struggle for results suggest that they currently need five moderately expensive players more than another superstar of Robinho proportions. City initially tabled a Â£12m offer for Santa Cruz last summer, later upped to Â£15m. "We may go through this next window and if Mark doesn't feel it's right or if we feel that we're being pushed into places that we don't want to be, then we might not go down that route [of buying]," said Cook, who appeared to be rowing back yet further on the initial grand pronouncements made about the club's buying intentions. The inflatory demands were affecting the club's "ability to have normal business discussions," Cook said. "You get a little anxious when I think we've been associated with over 50 players now so I don't think that's healthy for us as a football club and our fans' expectations become different." It is inconceivable that City will not buy at all, with the club arguably needing two new personnel in the striking department alone and in the circumstances even Â£20m for Santa Cruz looks like decent business. But Cook is worried by what he calls "the Manchester City effect" and served notice that he will walk away from clubs who try to hold him to ransom. "I have a responsibility to the owners but I also have a responsibility to the fans and I do not feel we should be over-paying for something that's not truly, truly committed to this football club," he said. Cook denied that failure to qualify even for the Uefa Cup next season would affect City's capacity to buy box office stars such as Kaka or Lionel Messi next summer. "If people feel that this isn't the place for them because they're not playing European football then it [calls into question] their suitability for the club," he said. He also backed Hughes as robustly as a chairman could, though that didn't quite stretch to guaranteeing his presence at City next season whatever the club's finishing position: "We can't predict the results and we can't predict the future." There were some intriguing insights into the club's new owner Sheikh Mansour al-Nahyan who, Cook revealed, was "emotional" about results and player performances and is glued, along with his acolytes in Abu Dhabi, to every City match. "Whenever I speak to them when there's a game there's always a crowd of people around a television. They can get pretty much all the games over there so they are cheering and shouting. They don't miss a kick," said Cook, whose contact with the Abu Dhabis comes in a weekly conference call and who expects Sheikh Mansour at a game before too long. Though Cook stressed several times that a lot of people "unrealistically expected a switch to be flicked as soon as the news broke that we'd changed control," from Thaksin Shinawatra to Sheikh Mansour he admitted he had been "surprised" by his club's first half form. He refused to discuss the number of players City might buy next month but one of the two categories of purchase he described provided a clue to their intent. "Young talent that is breaking into the international scene and [having] some success there," is, along with superstar names, evidently City's target â€“ if the price is right.