So this is what it has come to?

Stoke City sit 18th place in the league, 4 points away from the bottom, with the worst goal difference in the league and worst defence in all of Europe’s major leagues. I remind everyone of this because I hope the board have failed to realise any of this, and that this ignorance is the reason Hughes is still in charge.

I would find it much easier to sleep tonight if Hughes remained in charge because of gross incompetence rather than an actual decision reached by discussion and critical thought.

But it is much more likely to be the latter than it is the former. It seems the board are genuinely sticking with Hughes, and are even planning on having a recruitment meeting with him sometime in the immediate future. It has been a baffling month or two, as the board have refused to act, and mere weeks ago Coates was asking what the “fuss” was about.

“Why?” is something I have found myself asking a lot over the past weeks, and there has been no bigger “why” than as to the board’s decision to back Hughes. First, and foremost, it seems inexplicable from a self-interest point of view. 12 months ago anyone questioning the Coates family would’ve been painted as a charlatan and their view scoffed at.

So, for the board to time and time again back a man who has had virtually no support since November is beyond questionable. Their actions have brought attention to themselves, and led to many to question the quality of the job they are doing at Stoke.

In recent weeks transfer policy has come under close scrutiny; despite Hughes being in total control of transfer policy as Shay Given confirmed on talksport this morning. And none of this would’ve happened if the board would’ve just sacked Hughes, they have brought it all on themselves.

And their actions of the past 30 hours have been ludicrous. To let it out that you are pursuing other options, in some kind of bizarre attempt to garner support, whilst still sticking with Hughes is verging on suicidal.

It introduces an instability which makes survival this season even harder, with the transfer of Daniel Opare being the perfect example. According to the Sentinel, Leicester are preparing to muscle in and are expected to be successful.

This is obvious as what sound-minded player would select a relegation threatened team, whose board no longer support the manager, yet have not removed him from the role? Any transfer business this January will face this problem, until Hughes is gone.

And the reason he is not gone? Because of a painful insistence on having a British manager with Premier League experience, akin to walking into a shop, knowing that what you are asking for is not there.

Beggars cannot be choosers, the perfect candidate does not exist, and never has done. All change is a risk, and there is no risk involved in keeping Hughes. There is no risk because it’s clear what happens if Hughes stays, Stoke are relegated, and yet the board are concerned there’s no one better out there?

I challenge anyone to try and follow the logic that there is no one better out there, than a man who has won 2 games in 11 and conceded 47 goals in 22 games (2 more than we did in an entire season). I doubt, somewhat out of blind hope, that this is the actual way the board see it.

I don’t enjoy questioning the people responsible for getting us promoted, but if they continue to plough on down the road at full speed ignoring every chance to turn off, then they are going to have to accept that they are complicit in our fate.


Written by Tom Thrower

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