Stoke fans have enjoyed many ups and downs in recent seasons. However, a 2-1 defeat at League Two Coventry in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday must rank with the lowest of the downs in recent years.
The defeat rather unsurprisingly led to the sacking of Potters boss Mark Hughes. The former Wales boss had been under major pressure for the past few weeks. The defeat was the final nail in the coffin of his career as Stoke boss after a poor run of form for his team.
Hughes sacking was almost inevitable
With Mark Hughes, I think it had become a matter of when and not if he left the club from the Potteries. The Potters board are not known for being trigger-happy, so the decision to sack him is unlikely to have been made without much thought.
However, it is an easy decision to understand. The Potters have struggled for results this season and have the worst defensive record in the Premier League. They recently slipped into the relegation zone. The clubs owners are scared that their team may suffer relegation.
Looking at their current situation, the Potters look set for a relegation dogfight. Once results started to go south, Hughes losing his job was almost inevitable. The team had struggled for direction and form under the Welshman for some time.
Candidates to replace Hughes
Already a number of names have emerged as possible replacements for Hughes. It seems the O’Neill’s Martin and Michael are the favourites for the position. Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill is currently the favourite for the job at odds of 7/4.
O’Neill had previously been linked with a number of vacant managerial positions, including at Everton. However, it remains to be seen if he will want to leave his current position, despite Ireland failing to make this year’s World Cup.
Michael O’Neill is also reportedly in-demand. In the past, there were reports linking the Northern Ireland boss with the vacant Scotland manager’s job, while also reportedly interesting Sunderland before the appointment of Chris Coleman.
Ryan Giggs is another linked with every vacant managerial position in the Premier League. It seems the Welshman is an unlikely appointment, though, as he lacks managerial experience. His appointment would be a major gamble.
Former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic is also reportedly in the running for the job. However, the fact that he left his job with his team in the relegation zone would be a concern for the Potters fans.
Stoke City in the relegation dogfight
Stoke City are currently in big trouble in the Premier League. There is still obviously time left this season to move away from the drop zone. However, the Potters have to make a quick decision on Hughes’ replacement if they are to strengthen their squad in the January transfer window.
The Potters squad is not terrible. However, it definitely needs strengthening, with a new forward the team’s main concern. The defence may have been poor this season, but the Staffordshire side have decent defenders in their squad.
With the right organisation, they could stop leaking goals. The likes of Sam Allardyce, David Moyes and Roy Hodgson have managed to tighten up leaky defences at Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace. Stoke need a boss to have a similar impact on their team.
The Stoke board face a decision that could prove pivotal in the destiny of their club. I for one believe that they were right to sack Hughes. To use a cliché, he seemed to have lost the dressing room.
Whether the next boss, whoever that may be, can get the Potters out of trouble is unclear. However, in the current situation, it looks like it could be a long hard season for everybody connected with Stoke City.
Who will be the next Stoke City boss?
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