Mark Hughes has pleaded for time to turn Manchester City's fortunes around, after they were forced to settle for a frustrating 2-2 draw at Hull City. Hughes recently came under scrutiny for the first time since he took over at Eastlands, and yesterday's result left his team dangerously close to the bottom three.
After falling behind to Daniel Cousin's early goal, Stephen Ireland's double had put the visitors in control. But Tigers playmaker Geovanni, released by City in the close season, returned to haunt his former club with deflected free-kick in the second half.
Despite Hull's fine start to life in the top flight, it is a fixture City's Abu Dhabi-based owners would probably have been expecting to win, but Hughes is convinced the battling performance showed he can make his mark on the squad, given time. "We're not the finished article yet, we're very early in our development and it's going to take time," he said.
"I've said this week that along the way there will be a little bit of pain and we've gone through some of that already. But hopefully the way we played today, with top sides coming up, will help us. I think we'll go out and show what we can do."
Hughes believes his team could have taken maximum points but, despite losing goalkeeper Joe Hart for around a month with an ankle injury, he was content his side put in an exciting away display. "," he added.
"Ideally we'd have preferred three points but the key today was to have an improvement on away performances. In recent weeks they haven't been anywhere near what they needed to be to get points at Premier League level. We've got a point, it could have been three, but we'll take it and it sets us up for the games we have ahead of us."
Hull manager Phil Brown paid tribute to Geovanni, who scored his sixth goal for the Tigers this season. Asked if he would trade the former Barcelona player for his compatriot, Manchester City's Robinho, Brown said: "Not in a million years. Why? Because mine was free and I can't afford 32.5 million pounds!
"In fairness, Robinho came up to me after the game and shook my hand. I think he spoke Spanish, which I know a little bit of. He seems a nice fellow and a good footballer, but so is Geo. He's a talented lad. The lad is very calm and if there was any pressure on him, I didn't detect it."