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Mark Hughes’ quest to rebuild his reputation at Bradford

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When Mark Hughes took his leave from Southampton in December 2018, he probably didn’t expect his next job in football to be in League Two, but three and a half years on, here we are, with Hughes recently unveiled as the new manager of Bradford City. The Bantams have suffered something of a fall from grace, and with the club languishing in the bottom half of the fourth tier, they decided to call on Hughes to try and steady the ship.

“It is maybe a little bit of a surprise that I have come in,” Hughes said, “but do not be put off by that! I am here for a reason: to make Bradford City a team people want to come and watch – and are proud to watch. The supporters come in their numbers, and that is the thing I have missed since being out of management. I am looking forward to the matchday, getting that adrenaline flowing and interacting with the crowd.”

Despite his reign beginning with successive defeats against Mansfield Town and Swindon Town, Hughes recently notched his first win with the club with a convincing 2-0 away win at Forest Green Rovers. With Bradford sitting in 15th place in League Two, Hughes’ aim will be to lead to the club back up the table and ready for promotion contention in the football betting in play next season.

Of course, another aim for Hughes will be to restore his own reputation as a coach. Once a lauded Premier League manager, who forged his reputation at Blackburn Rovers in the mid-2000s, it’s fair to say that the game left Hughes behind somewhat. When he took the reins at Southampton, the appointment was not met with much enthusiasm by supporters and media alike, and it wasn’t long before his services were dispensed with.

The fact that Hughes has been unable to land a more high-profile job in the years since speaks to the fact that he has lost the trust of many within football. Having taken the Bradford job, it will be interesting to see if Hughes has spent his time away developing his coaching style and philosophy to more adequately suit the modern game.

It’s over a decade since Hughes was appointed as manager of Manchester City, with the Welshman seen as the right man to lead the club into a new and exciting chapter after their takeover by the Abu Dhabi group. Things did not quite go to plan at City, and it’s fair to say the club only really started to progress after his departure.

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He did a sterling job at Stoke City for a number of years, but the way things soured there, and the failed spell at Southampton that followed, have left him as football’s forgotten man. Now he is back in the limelight, albeit a little bit down the footballing pyramid than he may have liked.

However, the fact that Hughes has taken the opportunity at Bradford suggests the he is eager to prove he still has what it takes — the same fire that burned within him when he was a hard-nosed centre-forward still seems to be there. At the age of 58, there is still plenty of time to prove himself in football management, and the road to recovery starts at Valley Parade.

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