Former Manchester United striker Mark Hughes said “he didn’t appreciate” being sold to Chelsea in 1995, but has retained a letter sent by Sir Alex Ferguson shortly after the sale.
United paid a club record £1.8million to re-sign Hughes from Barcelona in 1988, and the striker went on to become one of the most important players of the Ferguson era.
He assisted a famous FA Cup third round winner, scored by former star Mark Robins which has regularly been accredited for saving Ferguson’s job at Old Trafford, before going on to win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the League Cup at Old Trafford.
Including his first spell at the club between 1983 and 1986, be scored 101 goals and contributed 20 assists in 286 matches for the club, before being ruthlessly sold in 1995, as Ferguson preferred a strike partnership in of Eric Cantona and Andy Cole.
However, having made many similar decisions during his time managing the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, and many more, Hughes said he now understands Ferguson’s decision.
“Sir Alex wanted to get good value, take the best years and sell for a profit. From his point of view it was good management,” Hughes said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“I didn’t appreciate it at the time but looking back I would have done exactly the same thing.
“My relationship with Sir Alex as a player was just enough.
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"Then as I got older and became a manager I became closer to him and understood the decisions he made because I faced them as well.”
Hughes was part of a significant fire-sale at the club which also saw Paul Ince leave the club to sign for Inter Milan and Andrei Nanchelskis depart Old Trafford for Everton.
And after Chelsea offered a fee believed to have been around £1m to secure Hughes’ services, Ferguson chose to accept the huge bid which came their way.
“He was aware of a bid from Chelsea and didn’t try to block it,” Hughes added.
“It was a message for me to move on and that was difficult because I’d spent the majority of my life at United.
“But in fairness to Sir Alex, he sent me a letter a month afterwards thanking me for my efforts at the club and the good times.
“I still have that letter. I saw him recently at Walter Smith’s memorial and enjoyed his company.”
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