Hughes sad after Burley axe

Michael Bailey Norwich City midfielder Stephen Hughes admits he feels sorry for George Burley, who was sacked as Scotland manager yesterday.The Canaries midfielder, who put in a supreme performance in City Reserves' 2-1 win over West Ham United's young guns at Carrow Road last night, won his first full cap under Burley in the 2-0 defeat in Japan last month.

Michael Bailey

Norwich City midfielder Stephen Hughes admits he feels sorry for George Burley, who was sacked as Scotland manager yesterday.

The Canaries midfielder, who put in a supreme performance in City Reserves' 2-1 win over West Ham United's young guns at Carrow Road last night, won his first full cap under Burley in the 2-0 defeat in Japan last month.

But Burley lasted just one more game, with the Scottish Football Association deciding the 3-0 defeat in Wales on Saturday was enough to signal an end to his reign - having given him a vote of confidence just eight weeks before.


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Hughes said: “I do (feel sorry for him); I mean, it's football I suppose. He's probably old enough and experienced enough to know that's the way it works and it's a results business.

“But he's probably feeling a bit let down by the SFA that they gave him their word to go ahead and then sacked him.

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“That's the way of the world, it's the way football goes and I'm sure he'll bounce back and get into work somewhere else.

“It's strange because I don't know why they gave him the backing two games ago to take us into the next campaign. It was a disappointing result against Wales but the SFA sort of make things hard for themselves.

“It's done now but it's probably a bit harsh because you can't give him the job to take us forward and then sack him a couple of months into it. That's the way they've done it now and hopefully they can get somebody in they'll stick by.”

Hughes agrees the SFA has backed itself into a corner as they look for the right man to take over from the former Ipswich Town boss, with Craig Levein, Jimmy Jefferies and Walter Smith favourites to take over from Burley.

“They have; the last couple of managers, Alex McLeish and Walter Smith left the Scotland job and moved on, but George Burley stuck by it and he's tried to get a squad together.

“We were disappointed not to get to the World Cup but then they've backed him again to go and take us to the Euros and they've sacked him before we've even started.

“So now it's just up to the SFA to try and get the right man for the job.”

And Hughes, like the majority of Norwich fans, will be hoping the SFA do not feel that man is Paul Lambert.

“Of course; he's got a job to do here, so obviously we want him to stay,” added the City midfielder.

The bookies were already taking odds on who would succeed Burley even before the announcement was made, with Levein and Smith the favourites, and Lambert - who won 40 caps for Scotland - an outside bet, with two bookmakers rating him a 28-1 shot.

Lambert - speaking in Glasgow on Sunday before news of the axing - suggested he believed Burley was being harshly treated.

“If you're going to have another meeting when you've just had one and gave him your backing then it seems a bit strange,” said the 40-year-old. “But that's the powers-that-be that run the Football Association.

“You've just backed the guy a few weeks ago and all of a sudden you're having another one after one defeat in a friendly?”

Scotland fans turned on Burley after Saturday's defeat.

“You need the fans on your side because they come out,” said Lambert. “The most important people in any football game are the players and fans - and it always will be that way.”

Hughes, meanwhile, played against the Hammers as if he had a point to prove to Lambert - and he acknowledged that is exactly how he feels.

“I think I have. My season's been so stop-start that I think I've got a lot to give and a lot more to show than I've shown so far,” said the 27-year-old.

“So I just really want to get into the team and get a run in the team, and hopefully show the manager and show the fans what I can do.

“I'm itching for a start and that's a good 90 minutes for me tonight under my belt, and then I'll look forward to the game on Saturday and the others coming up.”

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