Mark Hughes has been part of the Premier League framework for the past 10 years, first at Blackburn Rovers, then Manchester City, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers and now Stoke.
For a manager to take teams like Blackburn and Fulham to the Europa League is an incredible achievement, as well attracting players like Carlos Tevez, Pablo Zabaleta, Nigel De Jong and Vincent Kompany to Manchester City, all of which helped turn Manchester City into title challengers.
However, recently fans have forgotten his progress at these clubs, and are instead focused on the negatives he may or may not have had.
At QPR, Hughes replaced Neil Warnock, who led the Hoops to the Premier League, and helped keep them up the following season. Through buying players like Bobby Zamora, Djibril Cisse and Needum Onuoha, QPR escaped relegation on the last day of the campaign.
You’re probably wondering why he is slated, because this doesn’t sound so bad, but it’s what he did next that was the problem.
Hughes overspent on QPR’s wage bill the following summer, bringing in players near the end of their careers like Kieron Dyer, Park Ji Sung, Robert Green, Andrew Johnson, Ryan Nelsen and Jose Bosingwa. Not enough youth was bought, and after the Hoops got thrashed 5-0 by Swansea on the opening day, results didn’t improve.
The former Man United star was eventually sacked in November and replaced by Harry Redknapp, with his reputation as a good manager tarnished.
Few had belief in Hughes when he took the Stoke job, replacing fellow Welshmen Tony Pulis. The pressure was on Hughes to bring in a fresh system and to redeem himself, which he has done.
He quickly released old stalwarts like Rory Delap, Matthew Upson, Mamady Sidibe, Dean Whitehead, Carlo Nash and Matty Lund, and brought in the likes of Erik Pieters, who would go on to cement himself in the first team.
By bringing in Marko Arnautovic on loan from Werder Bremen, it showed Hughes’ intent on making Stoke a great team, and he did by leading them to their highest position of 9th. He then signed Mame Biram Diouf and Bojan Krkic the following season, and by doing so had completely removed the long ball tag Stoke struggled to shake off for so long.
This current season has been no different. Hughes allowed Asmir Begovic, Robert Huth and Steven N’Zonzi to leave the club in the summer, which paved the way for further improvements to be signed.
Jack Butland has benefited from playing regularly, and the purchases of Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay have helped to provide pace down the wings.
But should he be linked with more top jobs? After all, he has shown at Manchester City that he can cope with the pressure, and has recently been linked with the Chelsea job.
Considering he has been in the league for years, a big team should definitely take the risk on him, and who knows, he could continue to prove people wrong.