While Manchester City's Premier League campaign has suffered through a series of roller coaster turns, hopes are high as they go forward against Martin Jol's Hamburg in Thursday evenings UEFA Cup match.
In many ways the story of match is a look at the handiwork of opposing managers. For Martin Jol, the slings and arrows of Tottenham where blame was unjustly cast on him has met with vindication as his side is in contention for not only the UEFA Cup but the Bundesliga crown. With HSV within a whisper of winning its first domestic title in over a quarter-of-century, the coach once discarded so easily is quickly being recognized as a brilliant tactical mind.
For Mark Hughes, the year hasn't been so kind to Sparky. The warm smiles of last summer after coming over from Blackburn have been replaced as he is constantly under the discerning microscope at City. While many City supporters are short of coming to Eastlands with burning torch and pitchfork, without a marked improved those demanding for his job will grow to impossible numbers. The first step in coming the storm of discontent starts with continued success in the UEFA Cup.
Against Hamburg the Citizens will be without Vincent Kompany to injury as well as Nigel De Jong, who is cup-tied from his service formerly with the German side. Stephen Ireland and long absentee Martin Petrov are available although it remains to be seen how they will be used.