Manchester City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak says he feels even closer to manager Mark Hughes over the way he handled last season's campaign.

After Thaksin Shinawatra agreed to sell City to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi on 31 August last year, there was relentless speculation that Hughes would be sacked and that the huge money Mansour was making available would be entrusted to a more celebrated manager such as Jose Mourinho.

However Al-Mubarak, who was appointed by Mansour, said there had been "an immediate chemistry" with Hughes. Khaldoon said he believes Hughes will be "a great manager" and they had confidence in him from the beginning.

"It was very unfair what he had to face all of last season," the chairman told the Guardian. "And that to a certain extent made me feel stronger towards him. Last season was very difficult, but we wanted Mark to succeed."

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