Hughes backs struggling stars
Mark Hughes has backed Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to play through their dip in form.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 01/12/09 5:20pm
Manager Mark Hughes has backed Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to play through their dip in form at Manchester City.
Toure joined the Blues in a £16million move from Arsenal last summer and the 28-year-old defender immediately replaced Richard Dunne as captain too, with fans' favourite Dunne then making a £5m move to Aston Villa.
But while both City and Toure made an impressive start to the season, the Ivory Coast international has begun to struggle as the Blues have failed to maintain their early-season momentum.
Hughes admits his skipper is not currently firing on all cylinders but is confident his leadership qualities will shine through as the Blues host Arsenal in the Carling Cup on Wednesday.
"Kolo is struggling with a little bit of form," he said. "He has had injury problems and at times has played when he was not quite right.
"But because he is the captain and wants to lead from the front, he has put his hand up and said he wants to play.
"You can't criticise him for that but you can compromise yourself if you play when you are not physically up to the right level.
"There has been an element of that for Kolo, but in general terms, he has been fine."
Wednesday's quarter-final clash will see Adebayor also facing his former club for the first time since City's 4-2 win over the Gunners in September.
The Togo international received a three-match ban for violent conduct after clashing with Robin van Persie and also came under fire for racing the length of the field to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal fans.
That was Adebayor's fourth goal in four league games for City but the 25-year-old has managed just one in six since returning from suspension, so Hughes is aware most of the attention will be focused on his star striker rather than Toure as City aim to kick-start their campaign after seven straight league draws.
"He was flying at the time and gave us a real trigger for the front of the team that allowed other players to react," said Hughes.
"We have to get back to that. Everyone knows that we need an intensity in our play to deny the opposition any encouragement.
"At the moment we are giving teams too much encouragement and not disappointing them enough."
The signings of Adebayor and Toure contributed to a whooping £12,874,283 paid by City to agents over the past 12 months.
Figures released by the Premier League on Monday showed City were top of the table for agent payments, making up a fair chunk of the overall outlay of over £70million by English top-flight clubs.
Hughes reckons that amount was inevitable given the vast recent investment made by the newly-rich Blues, but the club has since developed its scouting system to avoid using agents as much in future.
"If you do a lot of deals - and overall something like 35 were included - given the expenditure and the turnover of players involved, you would expect a figure like that," he said.
"There is a role that has to be met and, at the moment, agents fill it. Do they provide value for money? You have to base every deal on its merits.
Money for nothing
"Sometimes you feel the agent has really done his job, on others you feel he is getting money for nothing.
"We now do a lot of the work that in the past agents have been able to bring to a club in terms of recommending players," Hughes added.
"Some agents will tell you they have the best player in the world. Now we can make that judgment ourselves because we have seen him 10 times. That has not always been the case.
"Without doubt I would say we are in a better place than we were 12 months ago."