Hughes targets top-ten finish
Mark Hughes today described Fulham as "the right club for me at this time" after being officially unveiled as their new manager. The Welshman was last week confirmed as Roy Hodgson's successor at Craven Cottage, signing a two-year contract.
Fulham turned to the former Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers boss after a move for number one target Martin Jol fell through. Hughes said: "I made the decision that this is the right club for me at this time. It feels a good fit."
Revealing how much he had missed the game, he added: "The attraction obviously is the opportunity to get back into work. I needed to get back to work. The situation with Fulham was maybe the perception I had of Fulham's ambitions."
Hughes had been out of work since being sacked by Manchester City last season, with the club well placed to finish in the top four of the Premier League. "Obviously, I was disappointed because I felt I was doing a good job, given the circumstances," he lamented.
"I think no-one else could've done as good a job as I did, given the circumstances. I felt we were fully on track with the expectations of the owners."
Hodgson left Craven Cottage for Liverpool this summer having masterminded arguably the greatest season in their history, leading them to the inaugural UEFA Europa League final. "I think the job Roy did was magnificent," said Hughes.
"He maximised the results out of the group he had. That's what I've always tried to do. The way I set my team up, I think that will lend itself to the work Roy put in place."
Because Fulham are not in Europe this season, Hughes was confident of bettering the club's Premier League finish of 12th last term. "We don't have the distraction of the Europa League," he said.
"That's a big ask when you're involved in that competition. We had that experience the year before at City. I think the fact we haven't got that this year is a bonus. If we can get into the top ten this year, that'll be good progress."
Fulham's success last season has inevitably seen their players linked with moves elsewhere, principally goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and left-back Paul Konchesky. "It's not my intention to allow the better players at Fulham Football Club to leave the club," Hughes stated.
"I would suggest the two players you mentioned would still be Fulham players by the end of the window. It's a situation we want to be able to resolve quickly."