Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Stoke fires Hughes after loss to fourth-tier Coventry


Coventry City’s Liam O’Brien reacts to a smoke canister that was thrown onto the pitch during their FA Cup match against Stoke City on Saturday in Coventry, England.

Photo: Reuters

Stoke City on Saturday fired manager Mark Hughes following an FA Cup loss to fourth-tier Coventry that heaped more embarrassment on a team fighting against relegation from the Premier League.

Hughes was in charge for four-and-a-half years, guiding the club from central England to three straight ninth-place finishes in his first three seasons.

However, this season, Stoke has been undermined by defensive problems — they have conceded 47 goals in 22 games in the league, more than any other team and have lost eight of their past 11 games.

The 2-1 loss to Coventry in the third round of the FA Cup proved to be a final humiliation for Hughes, who was fired three hours later.

In a brief statement, Stoke said they would look to hire a replacement “as soon as possible.”

Stoke are in 18th place in the 20-team Premier League, the final relegation spot.

Hughes, a former Manchester United striker, had exactly 200 games in charge of Stoke.

After taking over from the pragmatic Tony Pulis, Hughes tried to make Stoke more expansive and bought a number of talented players from across Europe who had lost their way after bright starts to their careers.

The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic, Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Afellay impressed in spells, but were not consistent. Stoke gradually lost their identity — they started to concede more goals, but were never prolific at the other end of the field.

Stoke lost 7-2 to Manchester City, 5-0 to Chelsea and 5-1 at Tottenham this season. The most damaging loss might have been the 1-0 defeat at home to Newcastle on Monday last week, with Hughes having rested key players in the heavy loss at Chelsea two days earlier.

He was never likely to recover from that, but was still given another week, reportedly because there was no adequate replacement.

Former Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs and Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill were among the early favorites with British bookmakers to succeed Hughes.

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