ABU DHABI // A Manchester City board meeting in Abu Dhabi today will include a review of January transfer window targets but the club's manager, Mark Hughes, has ruled out a move for any more attacking players. At the meeting in the capital along with Hughes will be the chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak, chief executive Garry Cook and the other directors. "We discuss these things on a regular basis," said Hughes, who has steered City to fourth place in the English Premier League. "It doesn't just start in January: there has to be planning and thought into the players you want. "You have to present that back and everything has to have a thought process behind it. Obviously that starts quite early on because as soon as one window closes, you begin planning for the next one. "But I'm quite happy with the attacking players I have. We're quite clear in what we are trying to achieve and the type of players that will enable us to do that. "
With the majority of City's first-team squad away on international duty, Hughes and Cook are also in the country to promote the club's friendly against the UAE national side next month - tickets for the Zayed Stadium match go on sale today. Due to the amount of money City have spent on players since Sheikh Mansour bought the club, a day does not go by without Hughes being linked to players from across the world.
The latest rumours were that City were preparing bids for Liverpool's Yossi Bennayoun and Sevilla's Luis Fabiano - something that Hughes denied outright. "As you get nearer to the window, the speculation becomes more intense and invariably we get connected with almost every top player in world football and we're quite comfortable with that. "We know it's coming, but we can't do anything to change it," added Hughes.
With City set to lose their captain, centre-half Kolo Toure, as well as their in-form striker Emmanuel Adebayor, during January's month-long African Cup of Nations, Hughes insisted he will not spend the available transfer fund to cover short-term absentees. "I won't be bringing players in just to provide cover [for Toure and Adebayor]," he said. "I think it would be the wrong strategy to bring in players because of a short-term weakness."
That is not to say that incoming players, bought with the future in mind, might not be able to fill the positions vacated by the duo. "If a good player is available and we think they would improve the squad on a longer basis, then we will look to do it," said Hughes. Cook, meanwhile, has supported the club's transfer strategy, saying City's start to the season proves Hughes is getting both his player dealings and team selections right.
"We don't look as vulnerable as we did last year," said Cook. "That gives us comfort. We know, through the strength of the squad Mark's building, that we can score goals and have that capability. We're not as vulnerable at the back and we can score - it is a different mix to what we have had previously." With over a sixth of the season gone, City look the club best-placed to break the traditional top four in English football's top-flight. Only table-topping Chelsea and sixth-placed Aston Villa have conceded fewer goals and the club's spending on proven goal-scorers has established them as genuine contenders for a coveted Champions League place.
Cook - while echoing Hughes in refusing to comment on specific transfer targets - backed his manager to maintain the forward momentum. "At this point in time it's far too early to get into discussion about individuals...(but)...there is a very clear strategy, that is driven by Mark, on the types of players that we want in the squad," said Cook. "Marks reviews his team, looks at all the strengths and all the challenges, and we have discussion about it."
An Emirati player, according to Cook, could soon be part of those discussions. "We have a Premier League football club which can match the ambitions of young players growing up and developing in Abu Dhabi, or in the UAE," he said. "We are a platform for the UAE and I would anticipate that in the next five years we'd like to see a young Emirati player develop in the Premier League." firstname.lastname@example.org