Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughHughes and Stoke a match made in heaven? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Hughes and Stoke a match made in heaven? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Hughes and Stoke a match made in heaven?

Mark Hughes famously walked out on Fulham in 2011, claiming the Cottagers didn’t match his ambition. Six months later he wound up at QPR, a recently promoted club struggling to retain their Premier League status. Ironically, Stoke City, a club Tony Pulis struggled in vain to get into the top half of the table, could be a perfect fit for Hughes.

Both Hughes and Stoke are entities with a point to prove. Hughes has many doubters of his managerial ability to silence – a fair share of these now coming from his own support, who question the judgement of those running their club. His hand in the debacle that was QPR’s relegation certainly leaves a black mark on his reputation that may prove hard to wipe clean. When you add that to the disloyalty he showed Fulham after only one season, the Welshman is not exactly the hottest of properties.

However, Stoke City have developed itchy feet of their own lately. With fans growing restless over the lack of progress, both in style and in substance, they felt a ‘change of direction’ was needed. Cynical snipers have dubbed this change of direction a downward slope to the Championship, but under Pulis they were already sailing too close to that wind for comfort.

It is possible that both Stoke and Hughes are meeting at the right time. Eager to put the past behind them, one successful season will render the current debate over Hughes’ suitability meaningless. Following a football club is notoriously the most fickle of pursuits – arguably owning one even more so.

The sound-bites provided by Hughes in his press conference shed light on a man determined to learn from his mistakes, as he pledged to ‘walk before I run’. Stoke have been walking for many years now. Is Hughes the man to turn that into a run? One thing is certain – Roque Santa Cruz will be sitting by the phone, hoping Hughes renews his obsession with the Paraguayan.

For the naysayers, it is also a dream appointment. Stoke and Hughes being involved in a relegation struggle could prove what many have been waiting for – but they might be waiting a while, as Hughes could yet prove his doubters wrong in a more solid and robust environment than at QPR. It is surely his last chance at the top level.