While Mark Hughes felt people ‘made assumptions’ about the perceived over-physical nature of his Rovers team, he admits he made a similar incorrect judgment when leaving Ewood for Manchester City.

The Welshman enjoyed a hugely successful four seasons at Rovers, guiding them to three consecutive top 10 finishes and semi-finals in the domestic cup competitions, as well as two European campaigns.

His rising stock saw him linked with countless jobs, but it was Manchester City who tempted Hughes away from Rovers in June 2008, but he admits all was not as it seemed.

“I made the decision to go to City from Blackburn, a very stable, well run club, and Man City would be a step up and the next level," he said.

“When I got there the reality wasn’t that, in terms of the level of standing of the club.

“Blackburn were in a better place, they had a better training ground, they were more stable, the ownership was better at that time.

“They were assumptions that I made wrong, because I felt maybe Man City would be better in that regard, but I made the decision and I would make the best of it.”

In the end, he was replaced by Roberto Mancini 18 months later after the announcement of new owners at the Etihad.

Hughes was forced to vehemently defend his Rovers side throughout his tenure, but his record speaks for itself. After taking over from Graeme Souness after his shock departure in September 2004, he guided Rovers to the safety of mid-table in his first season and then kicked on to finish sixth, 10th and seventh.

“People made assumptions, and in my view they were wrong,” he said in a revealing interview with The Coaches Voice.

“I think it all stemmed from one game if I’m honest. We played Chelsea at Ewood Park and it was a great game.

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“Unfortunately, Arjen Robben got injured, a mistimed tackle and he got injured and had to go off and it was a physical game, make no bones about it.

“Chelsea could look after themselves in those days as well. We matched them up, they beat us 1-0 in the end and I remember Jose going to the crowd and whipping everyone up in his grey flannel coat.

“Even though we got beat I was proud of my players in terms of they’d matched Chelsea in that physicality but in the game as well.

“Unfortunately the headlines after the game weren’t great, there was a lot of focus on the injury to Robben and how our approach led to the injury and I thought that was unfair.

“But unfortunately when people throw mud, a lot of it sticks and we took a long time to shake it all off.”

Although Hughes took over when Rovers were in the relegation zone, time was on his side, and so too were the characters within his dressing room. And while his methods might not always have been to the liking of some senior players, they certainly bought in to what was being asked of them.

“When I took over we were second we were second bottom, but only four or five games in to the season so that can happen,” he explained.

“Graeme Souness had left for Newcastle, had resigned and gone up the road, so iIt was a difficult situation and difficult circumstance because the club wasn’t as prepared in terms of the managerial change.

“I came in and the group of senior players at that time, like Garry Flitcroft, and the younger players, the likes of Matt Jansen, and we had a good core that I felt comfortable with. We had an outstanding keeper in Brad Friedel as well.

“I knew I had a group of players that I could work with. Their workrate was exceptional, I worked them really, really hard I have to say in my first year, and a few of the older guys blame me for finishing their careers a little bit sooner because the training was so hard.

“But I thought was important because I wanted my teams to be strong at the end of games, we certainly were that.

“We felt that even if we were behind in games going in to the last 20 minutes that we had a chance because if we were within one goal of any team then we always felt we had a chance to win.”

Hughes’ playing career finished at Rovers, helping them lift the Worthington Cup in 2002, but his playing days were best remembered for his time at Old Trafford.

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Many felt he was been primed for the managerial role at Manchester United, rather than City. There were many battles along the way between his Rovers side and the Red Devils, meeting nine times, including a two-legged Carling Cup semi-final of January 2006, as well as victories for Hughes over Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford in September 2005 and a 4-3 win at Ewood in February 2006.

“From my point of view, whenever we went up against United I wanted to do well, only because I viewed Sir Alex as the best manager and I wanted to test myself against the best,” Hughes added.

He added: “Whenever I went up against him, I wasn’t asking for any favours and he wasn’t going to get any from me either. I was there to try and beat his team because I viewed his team, and him, as the best that was around and I wanted to beat them.

“That was my attitude to it, that was never going to change.  Sometimes that was misinterpreted looking back, people thinking: ‘oh he doesn’t like United any more, he’s got an issue with Ferguson’. It was never about that, it was about the fact I wanted to put myself up against the best club and the best manager at that time.

“When you’re able to overcome a club and a manager of that stature then clearly that’s going to resonate around football and people might acknowledge that maybe you’re doing a good job.”