After losing seven of 10 games and sinking to within two points of the relegation zone, it was inevitable: members of the Stoke City board are said to be given consideration to firing manager Mark Hughes, according to multiple reports from the UK.
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Monday’s 1-0 home defeat to fellow relegation battlers Newcastle United, which culminated in stadium-wide chants of, “Hughes out,” could very well be his final game in charge of the club.
Speaking after the loss to Newcastle, Hughes was hugely defiant and insisted he was the right — and only — man for the job:
“Who else is going to do it? In terms of the knowledge of the group and the progress in my time here, I’m the best person to do it.”
“Everybody talks about the changes we made but Rafa Benitez made six changes, what’s the difference. I don’t see why my decisions are questioned. I am brave enough to take it on the chin.”
If Hughes is to go, Stoke would be wise to make the decision sooner rather than later, thus affording his replacement an opportunity to make one or two signings during the now-open January transfer window.
If Hughes remains the right man in the big picture, then he’s still the right man now, even after losing seven out of 10. However, nothing could further damage Stoke’s season than keeping Hughes in charge based on one or two decent results in the coming weeks, only for the team to tank again shortly there after before making a change after Jan. 31. This would be a rare instance where a swift decision is hugely preferred to a labored, wait-and-see saga.