With rumors linking Rafael Benitez and plenty of others with the vacant manager’s job at Stoke City, Mark Hughes has today emerged as one of the frontrunners for the position.
While Benitez is said to be very close to taking over at Napoli, according to the Serie A teams president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
So with Rafa out of the picture, would Hughes really be a “good fit” for Stoke City?
I have my doubts. Yes he is hugely respected in the game after his glittering career with Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chelsea to name but a few.
But after failing to led Manchester City to any silverware during his time in charge and millions spent, Hughes’ managerial career has taken a downward spiral.
He had one brief season at Fulham — remember that? — in 2010-11 when they finished eighth and qualified for a Europa League spot through the Fair Play route. However he left just 11 months into the job, stating “as a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences.”
So no disrespect to Stoke City, are the Potters a step up from the Cottagers?
Hughes then took over at Queens Park Rangers in 2012, keeping them in the Premier League on the final day of the season. But a woeful start to the 2012-13 campaign saw Hughes sacked and he’s been out of a job since. Seemingly he is waiting for the right offer to come along.
He is still a promising manager, and a delightful person on a one-to-one basis. But when he has to be, he can be stubborn, ruthless and extremely difficult to work with. But aren’t all good managers like that?
Hughes brought the Welsh national team to the brink of qualification for the 2004 European Championships in Portugal and then worked wonders at Blackburn Rovers in his first job in club football. They finished in the top six on a small budget and reached the last 32 of the UEFA Cup and multiple FA Cup semifinals.
However big-name signings at Manchester City let him down, badly. And Hughes’ figure on the sideline at the Etihad Stadium was often a forlorn one towards the end.
What can he change at Stoke? Well, not much. But if they want to continue with their hard-nosed approach and physical style of play, Hughes is your man.
Perhaps Stoke City’s director’s don’t want to steer too far away from the style they have in place at the moment. That would mean a huge overhaul of their squad, which just isn’t economical.
Hughes deserves a second, third or even fourth chance, if you call his time at Fulham a failure, at being an EPL manager.
But I would suspect this is his last chance saloon. Are Stoke City right to take a gamble on Hughes?