Premier League: Why it would be scandalous for Stoke to bin Hughes

Mark Hughes has never finished lower than ninth in his three years in charge of Stoke
Mark Hughes has never finished lower than ninth in his three years in charge of Stoke

Stoke shouldn't be contemplating getting rid of Mark Hughes despite a poor start, insists Michael Lintorn...


"It’s understandable that the Potters would start slowly on this occasion given that some of their most significant transfer business wasn’t completed until deadline day – Bruno Martins Indi and Wilfried Bony – and they have faced the top three sides already among their opening quintet."

Mark Hughes is perceived to be at significant risk of being sacked by Stoke after they fell to their fifth successive defeat against Premier League opponents at home to Hull in the EFL Cup.

The Potters are bottom of the top tier after following up an opening-day draw at Middlesbrough with losses to Manchester City, Everton, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, conceding 13 times in the process, and finds himself as short as 2/1 to be the next top-flight boss replaced as a result.

Those odds don't quite render him favourite, with Swansea's Francesco Guidolin in the most unwelcome position at 11/10, but they do spell out the need for rapid improvement.

Encouragingly for Hughes, while some fans' faith is fading and his managerial ability is coming under attack - he is a leading target for criticism in Joey Barton's new autobiography - his chairman Peter Coates does at least publicly show an understanding of the situation.

Before the latest flop against the Tigers, he offered a pretty supportive stance: "I understand how the fans feel. I'm a supporter too - but let's have a bit of context. It's September and we've only played five games. We've finished ninth in the Premier League three times in a row."

Of course, saying the right thing and doing the right thing are completely different things, and even the most sympathetic chairman have breaking points, but Hughes should still be some distance from reaching Coates'.

As the man with the power observed, it is just five matches out of 38 and the one point that they have now is a mere one less than at the same stage last term, in which they recovered to claim ninth. It was a similar story in 2014/15: five points at this juncture, 54 by the campaign's close.

Besides, it's understandable that the Potters would start slowly on this occasion given that some of their most significant transfer business wasn't completed until deadline day - Bruno Martins Indi and Wilfried Bony - and they have faced the top three sides already among their opening quintet.

More than anything, Hughes deserves patience for delivering those three ninth-place finishes that Coates discussed, and from similar September stations to this. He is their most successful Premier League manager and, even in the current climate, three stellar years should outweigh five weak weeks.

When Chelsea, the flag-bearers of short-termism, can stick with their top tactician until December after a far more spectacular fall and clear evidence of losing the backing of the players, it would be ludicrous for Stoke to ditch their new-height-scaler four months on from a 51-point season.

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