My 115m squad is starting to look like champions, says City boss Hughes
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes believes his expensively-assembled team have passed their first test with a good start to the Barclays Premier League season. Adebayor and Kolo Toure, Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez, Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz, Everton defender Joleon Lescott and Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry. The club's significant financial resources, which come from Abu Dhabi owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, mean expectations have soared and before the campaign kicked off City were talked about as being contenders for Champions League qualification. Hughes, who less than 12 months ago was fighting off questions about his future at Eastlands, knows the critics were waiting for his side to slip up. But they have dropped just five points - three of which were in the controversial last-gasp defeat to city rivals Manchester United - in seven matches and currently sit fourth in the table with a game in hand. 'There were a lot of questions - would we be able to gel early as a team, would so-called egos in the dressing room be able to be managed - being asked of us before a ball was even kicked,' said Hughes. 'From our point of view I think we have answered each and every one of them. We know there is a long way to go but we are pleased with the start we have because we needed a good start. 'The review we have had of the first phase (of the season) has been good. There will be more tests ahead of us but I think we are in good shape. 'When you go through the experience we went through at Old Trafford it can only help to make the group stronger as a whole. We know what we are capable of. We have shown glimpses in games where we have been outstanding but we've not clicked for the full 90 minutes yet.' Hughes and senior club officials have admitted they have crammed three years' spending into two transfer windows in an attempt to get City up to speed with their more established Premier League rivals. The manager is confident the players he has brought in are of the right character to achieve the ambitions of Sheikh Mansour but has warned they cannot afford to get ahead of themselves despite an impressive start to the season. Hughes has also told his squad to ignore the media hype, which today is linking Brazil forward Robinho with a January move to Barcelona. 'Everyone realises the people we have brought to the club have made us stronger physically, technically and mentally - which was the key thing from my point of view,' added Hughes. 'As a consequence it was inevitable our results would improve but we have to make sure we are consistent through the whole season, and given the quality in the squad, I see no reason why we can't be. 'With all the media platforms out there everyone wants to discuss Manchester City so it is difficult to protect the players but we have used it to our own. 'We've used some of the negative stuff as a positive in terms of motivation. You shouldn't go too overboard about praise and negative criticism will always be there and so you shouldn't be too upset when you see it because you know it is coming. 'But the group we have are knowledgeable and experienced and they know how it works.'
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