Fulham legend: We thrived under Hughes because we ignored him

Matthew Stead

Brede Hangeland has confirmed that Fulham only finished 8th under Mark Hughes in 2011 because the players decided to completely ignore his tactics.

Before their relegation in 2014, the Cottagers had spent 13 consecutive seasons in the Premier League.

Hughes was in charge for just one, the 2010/11 campaign, after Roy Hodgson had left for Liverpool.

The Welshman guided them to eighth place, but Hangeland says they only prospered that season because the players just decided to “play the way we used to play”.

Hangeland, one of our top ten January signings, made the claim in a fascinating Q&A with FulhamFocus. Go there and give them some love.

“When Hughes came in he wanted to change some of the defensive principles that Roy had installed,” he said. “This was, of course, pointless, but you have to go with the manager’s ideas.

“Around Christmas, we were in the relegation places and that’s when a few of us got together and decided to play the way we used to play. The effect was instant, we beat Stoke away and went on to finish 8th that year.

“Mark Hughes deserves some credit for the fact he just went along with this. We had a team that more or less ran itself, having been drilled so well by Roy for a few years.

“If ever you need proof that Hodgson’s methods were the best for that team then look no further. This is also why those of us who were at Fulham for a few more years could never quite understand the urge to change style and tactics. New managers came in and wanted to change, and I asked myself why?

“In the end, too many people had left and the football philosophy had changed too much, and that’s when relegation happened.”