Is it time for Hughes to go?
Former Swansea manager Paul Clement became the 6th Premier League manager to be sacked this season on 20th December. Attention must turn to Stoke manager Mark Hughes, whose side sit 17th in the table. Stoke were hammered 3-0 this weekend by a resurgent West Ham team buoyed by the arrival of David Moyes.
Hughes guided Stoke to 9th place for his first 3 years in charge and they finished 13th last year; firmly establishing them as Premier League regulars. A promising start by new loan signing Jese Rodriguez and a squad full of talent and experience meant that fans were optimisitc about pushing for a European spot. However, Stoke have capitulated and been unable to string a decent run together despite an impressive 1-0 win against Arsenal and a 2-2 draw against Manchester United in the early stages of the season. Stoke have the worst goal difference in the Premier League and a leaky defence, something the fans are definitely not used to. A side with such quality should not be hovering just above the relegation zone and it is clear that patience with Hughes is running thin.
Is it time for Hughes to go? Yes. Chairman Peter Coates and the board would have seen the upturn in results for Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace after their managers were recently sacked. Hughes has been given more than enough time to turn Stoke in to a top 8 side and his tactical failings this season mean a change is needed. The problem being, the Premier League’s chief ‘quick fixer’ Sam Allardyce has taken over at Everton and other experienced managers such as Roy Hodgson, David Moyes and Alan Pardew have also been recently appointed by fellow struggling teams.
Stoke face a huge six-point clash against West Brom this weekend and failure to win this game will probably result in the sacking of Mark Hughes. With the January transfer window looming, Hughes must do everything he can to keep star man Xherdian Shaqiri. Hughes has a well balanced squad at his disposal; however, a bit more energy in the centre of midfield, a quality right-back and an out-and-out striker wouldn’t go a miss.
What next for Stoke? If Stoke lose their next game I can imagine Tony Pulis taking over until the end of the season. If Stoke win their next game and manage to string a run of good form together, Hughes will probably stay and lead the team to a lower-mid table position again.