So, Mark Hughes’ team wins and he gets fired while Rafa Benitez’s club loses to the last-place team in the English Premier League and Benitez keeps his job.
That’s the one-word question I kept repeating to myself and my football fan friends last weekend after Manchester City axed Hughes, whose team won a wildly entertaining 4-3 game against Sunderland on Saturday. Hours after the win, Hughes was handed his walking papers.
Meanwhile, Benitez’s Liverpool side is playing as poorly as it has in a long, long time, with Saturday’s 2-0 loss — its eighth of the season — to bottom of the table Portsmouth dropping the Reds to eighth.
While virtually everyone with knowledge of or interest in English football probably expected Benitez to be the one fired, indeed it was Hughes who got canned even though Man City has only two league losses this season, the fewest in the EPL. Granted, the Citizens have only won two of their last 12 Premier League contests and club owner Sheikh Mansour obviously felt his team was spending too much time at the drawing board.
But all those draws, along with seven wins, including triumphs over top-four sides Chelsea and Arsenal, have left City in sixth place in the table with a game in hand. The Citizens are also in the Carling Cup semifinals.
There’s no shortage of teams that would trade places with City in a hummingbird’s heartbeat, but after shelling out millions to essentially build a fantasy football team, the bosses didn’t feel they were getting enough of a return on their investment.
If this happened at the end of the season, it would be somewhat understandable. But in December? Weird.
As for Benitez, one has to think he’s the next manager to go. After the loss to Pompey seemed like a perfect time for him to be shown the door. Hell, I doubt if Benitez would’ve even argued.
But Rafa’s still got a job at Liverpool while Hughes waits for his next opportunity.
Just when you thought you’d seen it all in the Premier League, something happens that makes you say, “Huh?”