Date: 15th April 2009 at 9:45pm
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Eastlands expects. City’s gaffer speaks out on the immense challenge City face to overcome Hamburg…

Mark Hughes appears to be in bullish mood as City’s biggest game of the season draws nearer and called upon the Eastlands faithful to get behind the team:

‘We’re all working hard and trying to make this club successful, and on Thursday the crowd are going to be our 12th man. For us to beat Hamburg, we are going to need everyone pushing in the same direction.

‘We have always held this competition in the highest regard and have given it the utmost respect this season. Now we are into the latter stages, and it is up to us to see how far we can go.’

The beleagured manager went on to defend his side’s efforts in Europe this season:

‘I have always enjoyed European football, as a player, fan and as a manager. There is a different atmosphere that surrounds European football, and I know that the players have enjoyed it this year. We have not got a great deal of European experience in the squad, compared to Hamburg, but progressing to the latter rounds from the Fair Play League and being the last English team in the competition is something we are very proud of. I think we should get a little bit of credit for that.’

Finally, Hughes remains steadfast in his opinion that opportunity knocks.

‘We’re gearing up for the business end of the season and it’s an opportunity to get into the semi-finals of a major European competition. It’s a big ask, there’s a deficit to make up and we are going up against a very accomplished side.

‘We’ll have to be at our best to match them, and we have great respect for their ability, but they are a side that concede goals on their travels. We are a team that can score goals at home … and I think there is a real opportunity for us on Thursday night.’

This match is shaping up to be something of a last stand for Mark Hughes and Manchester City.

Now more than ever we need to set aside our differences over the direction the squad is moving in, get behind the team and give it all we’ve got.

Never say never.

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