Fulham seeking talks with Hughes


SOCCER NEWS:MOHAMED AL Fayed has sought talks with Mark Hughes over the managerial vacancy at Fulham, as he broadens his search in the wake of the failure to prise Martin Jol from Ajax.

The Fulham chairman also has Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ottmar Hitzfeld on the shortlist to succeed Roy Hodgson, who has left for Liverpool, but he is keen to know whether Hughes can be tempted before he makes a firm move.

Eriksson, who has the offer of another contract with Ivory Coast on the table, had hoped to hear from Fulham at the weekend to invite him in for discussions. But the call did not come, leaving him to fear he is down the pecking order. Hitzfeld has a contract with Switzerland, whom he took to the World Cup, but Fulham believe he could be lured to Craven Cottage.

Hughes has been out of work since his dismissal from Manchester City last December, and he has bided his time for the right job. Were he to be approached by Fulham, he would have to think long and hard about uprooting his family from the north-west but the money potentially on offer, for his contract and signings, would not be a problem.

There is the perception that Hughes would have to take a large support staff with him, including the coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki and the goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock, but that would not be a prerequisite of his employment.

Fulham are keen not to rip up their existing structures; they also want to keep the coach Ray Lewington, who is in caretaker charge of the squad on the tour of Sweden.

Fayed will not be rushed into a decision but he recognises the benefits of a swift appointment. Without a manager, his desire to make an impression on the transfer market must remain on hold and uncertainty might develop in the squad.