As Stoke fans are well aware, there is a huge debate between fans as to the future of the management at the club. I have taken the time to take an in depth look at Stoke City since the former Blackburn, Man City, Fulham and QPR man took the reigns at the bet365 Stadium.
Mark Hughes was appointed manager of the Potters in May 2013 after the departing of Tony Pulis.
Pulis was given many plaudits for the achievement of returning top division football to Stoke-on-Trent, as well as an FA Cup final culminating to Stoke having the chance to represent England in the Europa League. However, the football became stale and both the club and fans wanted to move in a different direction with an attractive style of play.
When Hughes was first appointed, some saw it as a great acquisition, whilst others were calling for Hughes to be removed from his reign the moment his appointment was announced.
Hughes’ first task was to assess his current squad and decide which players were surplus to requirements. In his first season he released the long throw expert Rory Delap, long serving striker Mamady Sidibe, former England international Matthew Upson, along with Dean Whitehead and Carlo Nash.
From this point, he decided to sign players to fit his style of play. The first was Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters who has been a consistent starter in the back four since his arrival. Hughes also brought in Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic (possibly his best signing to date) and relied on his former Man City midfielder Stephen Ireland on a season long loan.
Over the last few years, further squad alterations were made. Wingers Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant were released, Kenwyne Jones was swapped for Peter Odemwingie and Hughes has since brought in some bigger household names such as Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen and Saido Berahino to name a few. Players that were known for their great attacking ability who were more technically gifted than much of the squad during the Pulis era.
When Hughes was appointed, we were promised a more attractive, attacking style of play and a long term plan to take Stoke to the next level. My question is, have we seen what was promised?
You can answer both yes and no to this question. We have seen slight improvement in league position and points tally, but performances have been less than consistent.
During his time at Stoke, Mark Hughes has managed a total of 167 games, winning 63, drawing 41 and losing 63, which gives him a win percentage of 37.7%.
This win percentage is currently his third best managerial record. His best came under Man City with a 46.8% record followed by his reign at Blackburn Rovers with a 43.6% record.
What you all want to know is how does he fair against former Stoke City managers?
List of win percentages of all Stoke managers since 1999 (with exception of Steve Cotterill due to leaving the role early on):
Gudjon Thordarson (1999-2002) – 50%
Mark Hughes (2013-Present) – 37.7%
Tony Pulis (2006-2013) – 36.64%
Tony Pulis (2002-2005) – 35.88%
Johan Boskamp (2005-2006) – 35.29%
As you can see, Mark Hughes has been our most consistent manager at Premier League level in terms of win ratio. Considering he is the only manager in this list who only has not managed the club in the lower divisions during his tenure, this is rather impressive. So why are some Stoke fans still wishing for a replacement?
Whilst some matches have seen some scintillating play, such as our demolishing of Arsenal and Liverpool at home in former seasons, Stoke have struggled to find that consistency and balance in the squad.
A large number of goals have been conceded since Hughes’ appointment. Since the beginning of the 2013/14 season, Stoke have conceded a huge 196 goals in the Premier League alone, which averages out at 1.36 goals per game. The worst year was the 2015/2016 season, where 55 in total were conceded.
Hughes’ side are also having issues finding the net, only scoring 167 goals in 144 Premier League matches. Again, last season was Stoke’s worst season for goals scored, managing a lowly 41 in 38 matches.
With 8 matches to go this season, Stoke have already conceded 44 and only scored 33, which is the worst record for both goals scored and conceded within the current top 10.
Looking at statistics, the happiness of some fans and the current style of play adopted, I also feel that whilst Mark Hughes has achieved a consistent league position at Stoke the match performances as a whole are declining.
Whilst Hughes has looked at a number of formations this season, his reluctance to change his tactics during a match along with his poor choice of substitutions to add some life to the Potters is becoming his downfall.
There are also players that could still have been useful squad players that have been loaned out – Bojan, Wollscheid and Joselu.
Some of the current squad also no longer have the ability/fitness to compete at the top level on a weekly basis (whilst being fantastic servants to the club) – Walters, Whelan and Crouch.
Does Stoke require a change in the backroom staff or an overhaul of the current squad?
My opinion is that both are required for Stoke to make further progress and damage limitation. How do you feel?