When Mark Hughes received his marching orders from QPR back in November a lot of people wondered where he would go next. He has certainly had his fair share of decent positions from managing his home country to taking the helm at a series of Premier League clubs.
I for one thought his next step would be down into the Championship or below, similar to Steve Bruce's path. However after growing pressure from Stoke City fans, who want a bit more flair and beauty at the Brittania, Tony Pulis departed the club and left behind what could well be the perfect hotseat for Hughes.
If you look at his recent record it is easy to think that Hughes is not a good manager, he was replaced by Mancini at Manchester City after only two wins in a run of 11 games, he walked away from Fulham after it appeared that his relationship with club owner Al Fayed broke down and then he was sacked by QPR in the middle of a season which saw them relegated to the Championship.
However when Hughes became the manager of Wales in 1999 he was able to help guide Wales out of a particularly rough patch lead them through a strong but unsuccessful qualifying campaign for Euro 2004, which included a 2-1 win over Italy.
Unfortunately they missed out after losing a playoff against Russia. He then left Wales to take over at Blackburn Rovers where he successfully kept them in the Premier League routinley and also took them to an FA Cup semi-final. After 4 years with Rovers he was handpicked by new owner Thaksin Shinawatra to take over at Manchester City in 2008.
He was manager during a great period of flux at the club which saw the ownership change once again to Sheikh Mansour and a revolution begin at City with the likes of Robinho joining the ranks.
This is when it started to fall apart for Hughes, the new owners did not seem to be keen on Hughes and the pressure was mounting for results which did not come. Then on the 19th December 2009 Mark Hughes was sacked for the first time in his career.
So why do I think he is the perfect fit for Stoke? Well when I look back over his career to date I see a certain trend.
The clubs where he struggled the most (Man City and QPR) were the clubs where he had the biggest budget. Is it a coincidence that when Hughes was in charge of an international team where there are no transfers he was able to do some real good and then he went on to be successful at relegation battling Rovers where his biggest signing was a tiny £3.5 million on Roque Santa Cruz?
Some managers are just better at working on a budget. At City and QPR he was like a kid in a candy store buying everyone he could including a long list of players who let him down.
Robinho, Jo, Ben Haim (twice), Shaun Wright-Phillips (twice), Ji-Sung Park, Andy Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Wayne Bridge just to name a few.
Of course there is also the opinion that these players were not his choices but were forced upon him by the owners to make a statement, I particularly believe this was the case with Robinho’s sudden arrival from Real Madrid.
It is hard to know the in details of the goings on behind the closed board room doors at Premier League football clubs but if this was the case then he should not face the same problem from the Stoke City board. Stoke City’s two biggest signings last season were Jack Butland (£4 million) and Charlie Adam (£5 million) these are the type of players Hughes can do some good with.
In the 2011/12 season they signed a total of only 5 players which is the level of stability which has worked well for him in the past. Stoke is the kind of club where Hughes can do what he does best.
No one expects Stoke to get into the Champions League or challenge for the league title and this lack of pressure, coupled with a determination to prove his critics wrong could be the catalyst to reignite his managerial career.
All in all I personally don’t like Mark Hughes’ managerial style but I think he will be a great fit at Stoke City next season, hopefully the fans will get to see some more of the beautiful side of the game that they crave. Only time will tell.
How do you see Hughes' reign at Stoke City transpiring?
image: © simonw92