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Mark Hughes

Latest Club: Stoke City
Previous Squads:

Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers

2014/2015 Barclays Premier League

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Profile

Previous Clubs: Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR

Honours: None

Mark Hughes' career as both a player and manager has, so far, been characterised by a battling nature and despite some major setbacks he has returned to the Premier League frontline again to manage Stoke City.

As a striker he was uncompromising and used strength as much as skill. Although he will be remembered for famous acrobatic volleys, Hughes also took the game to defenders with a physical style and was the scourge of many a top-flight defence during his 22-year career with Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea and Blackburn.

Hughes joined United as a schoolboy in 1978 and went on to become a true club legend. His first spell with the Red Devils came to an end in the summer of 1986 when Barcelona paid £2.3 million to take him to La Liga, but the Welshman endured a tough time in Spain leading to a loan move to Bayern Munich. United re-signed Hughes in 1988 for £1.8 million, and his performances back in England landed him the PFA Player of the Year award in 1989.

A period of dominance of the English game followed, including two league titles, the European Cup Winners' Cups, League Cup and two FA Cups, and it came as something of a surprise when Hughes left United in the summer of 1995, bound for Chelsea in a £1.5 million deal. Within two years Hughes had won his fourth FA Cup winners' medal and, in 1998, he tasted European Cup Winners' Cup glory once more. He left Stamford Bridge before the start of 1998-99 season to sign for Southampton and that year Hughes first tasted management with the Welsh national side, taking temporary joint-charge with Neville Southall.

He made such an impression that in November he was handed a four-and-a-half-year deal, the first 18 months of which would be served on a part-time basis. But his playing days were not quite at an end. He signed for Everton in March 2000 before moving to Blackburn on a free transfer in October. He helped Rovers win promotion to the Premier League, but his initial results with Wales were far from impressive, failing to make the 2002 World Cup.

And, after leading them into the top 50 of FIFA's rankings after an eight-year absence, a poor start for Wales in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany saw him leave to be named as the new boss at Ewood Park. He did come very close to qualifying for Euro 2004 but lost to Russia in the play-offs.

Hughes brought in his own faces, based his side on a strong defence, and came in for criticism for their robust approach to the game, but he led the team towards UEFA Cup qualification by claiming an impressive sixth position in the Premiership. Two seasons of consolidation followed and, with a growing reputation, he was targeted by newly rich Manchester City.

Under pressure throughout his tenure at Eastlands, Hughes dragged the club to tenth place and their first FA Cup semi-final since 1981 in his first season, but lasted only 18 months. With big-name signings arriving, a poor run before Christmas saw him sacked and replaced by Roberto Mancini.

Not out of the game for long, he was named as the new Fulham boss at the end of July 2010 after the club failed to get primary target Martin Jol. After a difficult start, the Welshman guided the Cottagers to an eighth-place finish in his first season, the second-highest in the club's history.

But Hughes had a clause in his contract letting him walk away and he exercised it on June 2, 2011 -- leaving Craven Cottage after less than a year in the job. Six months later, he was back in the Premier League as QPR turned to him following the sacking of Neil Warnock and a new era began.

Hughes struggled to turn things around at Loftus Road, but high profile home victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham helped them stay up on the final day of the season and give Hughes the chance to build.

"There's no way we will ever be in this situation again while I am manager of QPR," Hughes said after securing another season in the top flight. But after bringing in 11 new players in the summer of 2012, Hughes failed to get his team to gel and by mid-November they were winless -- picking up only four points from the opening 12 fixtures. A home defeat to Southampton proved to be the final nail in his coffin and on Nov. 23 he was sacked.

Once more though, Hughes was to bounce back into the top flight, as Stoke came calling after parting ways with Tony Pulis in May 2013. By joining the Potters, Hughes became only the second manager after Harry Redknapp -- who coincidentally replaced him at QPR - to take charge of five different Premier League clubs.

His first season yielded success as the Potters, playing a more attractive brand of football than their supporters had been used to, finishing in 9th place -- the club's highest in the Premier League. 

Strengths: Passionate and committed to the cause, he has managed to instill a battling attitude in the vast majority of his teams.

Weaknesses: Has received criticism for some tactical decisions and sometimes struggles to assert his authority on big-name players.

Career high: Keeping QPR in the Premier League in 2012 after all the pundits had written him off.

Career low: Being sacked by QPR after just 12 games of the 2012-13 season having not won a single game.

Tactics: Likes his players to be physical and challenge for the ball with intensity. At Blackburn he liked a 4-4-2, while at City he preferred to use 4-5-1, but almost always plays with a big, powerful striker to hold up the ball.

Quotes: "Every manager, when they come into a new environment and a new club, will have doubters. It is up to you to win people over. In recent times my previous work has been overlooked as a consequence of having an exceptionally poor start to last season. Hopefully we can redress the balance somewhat because it was a bit skewed in a negative way, people's perceptions of my ability as a manager. I'd like to think we can turn a few round." Mark Hughes on his arrival at Stoke.

Trivia: His first name is actually Leslie.

Words: Jonathan Molyneux Carter