Stoke City sack manager Mark Hughes after poor run of form
Stoke City sacked manager Mark Hughes following their FA Cup defeat on Saturday, after a run that saw them win just twice in 13 games.
The 2-1 defeat at Coventry City of League Two proved to be the final straw, after chants of "Hughes out" had been heard from Stoke fans after Monday's 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle. That followed a 5-0 drubbing at Chelsea two days earlier.
A club statement said: "We would like to thank Mark for all he has achieved for the club over the last four and a half years, notably in guiding us to three successive ninth-place finishes in the Premier League, and we wish him every success for the future."
Stoke are in the Premier League relegation zone in 18th place on goal difference, with 20 points from 22 games. The club have also conceded the most goals of any team in the division -- 47 from their 22 games.
Supporters had already been voicing their displeasure after 3-0 loss to West Ham on Dec. 16, and though the club turned things around with a 3-1 win over West Brom in the following game, a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield on Boxing Day did little to quell the tide of criticism before the latest setbacks.
Hughes was appointed at Stoke on May 30, 2013, taking over from fellow Welshman Tony Pulis. He had exactly 200 games in charge of the Potters, following spells in charge of QPR, Fulham, Manchester City, Blackburn and Wales.
Speaking after the FA Cup defeat at Coventry, Hughes suggested the result might be a blessing in disguise -- only for it to prove to be his last game in charge.
"The fact we've gone out, even if it's a little bit raw at the moment, might help us," Hughes said. "At the moment we don't want to discuss Premier League games, but maybe when we wake up on Monday the reality clearly has to be our league form."
He questioned whether the result would affect his future, and added: "It just highlights that we need to do better. But in the long term, certainly until the end of the season, it might be a blessing for us."
The perilous nature of Stoke's position was not lost on him, and Hughes had been planning transfer window business until being told his services were no longer required.
Charlie Adam had equalised with a second-half penalty after Jordan Willis opened the scoring but Jack Grimmer scored for the home side to clinch the upset.
Stoke finished ninth in each of Hughes' first three seasons in charge but for the 2016-17 campaign they had slipped to 13th.
Bookmakers rated former Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs and Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill among the early favourites to succeed Hughes.
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