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Premier League Sackrace: Why Mark Hughes is next

Saturday 23rd December 2017

In the not too distant past, the popular perception of Stoke City was that they’re one of the toughest defensive groups in the Premier League. Nowadays, the Potters ship goals helplessly and the blame can’t be heaped anywhere but on the manager’s doorstep. 

The job of Premier League managers is perhaps one of the most unstable among other European top leagues. We’ve already seen as much as six managers from the Premier League shown the door even before Christmas. Frank de Boer received his marching orders as early as September while Paul Clement, the latest manager to get the boot, was shown the door by Swansea City a few days ago.

The question now is, who’s next? Without mincing words, Stoke City have been below par this season. Just one point above the drop zone, Stoke is flirting dangerously with relegation and it makes Mark Hughes job one of the most unenviable in the division – that’s if he still has a job in a couple of days. 

The beleaguered City boss has overseen a Stoke side who have conceded the most goals in the Premier League this season (39). This is against the backdrop of City spending £31 million on new defenders during the summer.

Since he took over from Tony Pulis in 2013, Mark Hughes has never had his job come under as much threat as it has now. The 49-year-old has had his job hanging by a thread since October and could get the sack if he fails to guide Stoke to a win against West Brom this weekend. If the Potters do win, which is pretty unlikely, Hughes would only be postponing the inevitable.

Here’s why the Welshman would be the next PL manager in search of a new job.

He can’t fix his defence 

Even with an attack that lacks a cutting edge, a Premier League team can remain in a comfortable position if its defence is watertight enough. A pretty good example is Burnley. Despite scoring a meagre 16 goals so far this far, the third lowest in the league, the Clarets are sixth in the League table with a good chance at qualifying for Europe.

Stoke City on the other hand, who by the way, have scored more goals (19) than Burnley, is languishing in 17th place. This is largely due to the fact that they’ve conceded nearly twice as many goals as they’ve scored. 

Mark Hughes was smart enough to foresee that his defence could be his biggest undoing this season. So, the signings of Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wimmer and Bruno Martins Indi for a combined fee of £31 million, was expected to plug gaps in the City defence. It didn’t. Hughes has tried and failed to galvanize his backline in the first half of this season.

With a defence that has conceded 10 goals in their last 4 games and has only kept two Premier League clean sheets this season, Hughes, like Jurgen Klopp, has failed to find the right formula in defence. 

That dripping defence is threatening to halt Hughes' four-and-half-year career at the Bet365 Stadium. 

More poor results will be recorded this holiday 

It’ll be a miracle for high-flying Manchester City to come out of the holiday period without dropping points, let alone Stoke not facing defeat. The holiday season represents the period when teams start getting desperate and stringing good results is a tough challenge even for top teams. 

Mark Hughes has received a vote of confidence from Stoke chairman Peter Coates, but having lost his last three games in a row, a fourth defeat could be the backbreaker. With former City boss, Tony Pulis without a job, the Potters have an excuse to fire Hughes now. 

Do you think Mark Hughes will be in a job when the next Premier League manager losses his job? 

Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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