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Hughes vows to keep attacking

sports Updated: Feb 13, 2009 12:05 IST
AFP
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Mark Hughes has vowed to persevere with Manchester City's attacking philosophy at Portsmouth on Saturday despite his side's dismal Premier League away record.

City travel to managerless Portsmouth for the first of three successive away games, which could prove crucial in their battle against relegation.

Hughes has denied suggestions he has been too attacking away from Eastlands and plans to persist in naming Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Stephen Ireland and Elano in his startling line-up.

Hughes, who has overseen only one victory from 11 league matches on the road since replacing Sven Goran Eriksson, said: "We now need to improve away from home which is the one thing that is holding us back at the moment.

"Our form away from Eastlands has been nowhere near what we would like and we have been poor on occasions on our travels, but even so we should have picked up more points than we have.

"We have been guilty of letting the opposition take the initiative. We must continue to be positive and attack-minded on our travels.

"Once we have established a defensive platform I want the players to express themselves.

"Possibly there has been some over-elaboration on occasions but I don't want to criticise the players too much because we give them licence in that final third of the pitch to be creative and I think that is important.

"We can't really shackle Robinho, Craig, Stevie Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips too much because they have a real passion for the game and love for it and they try to make things happen."

City are Portsmouth's first opponents since the sacking of manager Tony Adams after just 22 matches in charge.

Hughes, whose own position has been subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks, claims Adams should have been given more time to arrest the FA Cup holders' run of nine games without a victory.

"From time to time I do find the sacking of managers a little bit surprising," added Hughes.

"If we are not careful managers themselves might start looking at jobs simply as short-term opportunities. What that then does is change their thinking.

"They start to look at short-term fixes rather than long term plans that will ultimately help sustain the club as a whole. People have to be aware of that.

"You have to have continuity to help a club go forward, I am convinced of that.

"As far as Portsmouth are concerned they may or may not get a positive response after Tony was sacked. Sometimes that happens in the short-term but it is something that we will have to negotiate."

Portsmouth have begun talks with Eriksson - now in charge of Mexico - about replacing Adams, but will be managed by caretaker-boss Paul Hart for this weekend's game.

Hart has called for a prompt resolution to the club's search for Adams' replacement, saying: "We need to sort something out as soon as possible because there are not many matches left.

"This is not a pleasant time for any of us but these things happen, far too often in my opinion, and we just have to get on with it.

"This club brought me in when I was out of work so it is not a problem for me to help out."

City will be without Wright-Phillips, who starts a three-match ban, while Portsmouth welcome back defender Younes Kaboul and midfielder Armand Traore after injury.