Mark Hughes ready to relegate Stoke if it keeps Southampton up
Mark Hughes is ready to relegate Stoke if it means leading Southampton to safety.
The Welshman was this week appointed as the successor to the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino, 67 days after being sacked himself by the Potters.
Stoke remain 19th and two places below Southampton, where Hughes was also a player when they unexpectedly and impressively survived relegation on the 1998-99 season's final day.
He is still fond of his time at the Britannia Stadium and of those he worked alongside while he was there, but if he is to preserve his new club's Premier League status he knows it is likely that Stoke could be the side go down instead.
"Human emotions you have take out of it a little bit,'' said the new Southampton manager, who on Sunday oversees his first fixture in their FA Cup quarter-final at Wigan.
"Clearly I was there a long time and there are a lot of people that I have a lot of time for. You don't want to see people struggle that you have worked really closely with.
"It is difficult. It is sport, you have to accept the consequences of not performing, not getting the results you want. You're always in danger and that is the reality of what we do.
"I had four and a half really good years there. I really enjoyed my time. Obviously circumstances when you leave a club are always a negative, because you don't want that to happen, but we struggled with key injuries.
"Defensively we were always stretched, and that obviously impacted on our ability to win games. Maybe as a consequence of how well I did as a manager in the opening few seasons, expectations were a lot higher than when I'd walked through the door.''
Hughes believes he has inherited a talented squad from Pellegrino, and which because of hamstring injuries is missing only Charlie Austin and Steven Davis.
He had previously tried to sign Shane Long, Cedric Soares and Mario Lemina -- the latter two while at Stoke - but only has eight league fixtures to inspire them to survival.
Southampton had planned to make a longer-term appointment when dismissing Pellegrino but Hughes revealed it was the club's decision not to give him a contract beyond the season's end, and he therefore reiterated his need to make an immediate and ruthless impact.
"The club was quite clear about what they were offering,'' he said. "I could have taken the easy option and not taken it. I've never been relegated and a lot of lot of managers wear that badge a little too keenly. Clearly I've put it at risk and that doesn't bother me.
"We haven't got a great amount of time to pussy-foot around. We have to address things very, very quickly and if there is something wrong or traits in the team that are going to hamper us, then we have to stamp them out and be really positive about what we are trying to do.
"I am sure if we stay up and win the FA Cup they will forgive me -- that's what I am banking on anyway.''