‘Hughes Out’ read a protest banner before Mark Hughes was even hired by Stoke City, but now nearly four years on, it’s time to discuss his tenure at the Potters.
A sizeable number of fans were unimpressed with the club’s decision to choose Hughes as successor to Tony Pulis, largely thanks to a disastrous spell at Queens Park Rangers.
But many felt it was time for a change from Pulis’ robust ways, and a chance to make a move up the Premier League table.
So, has that happened?
Hughes has guided Stoke to three straight ninth-place finishes, and yep, they’re ninth right now too.
Under Pulis, the Potters’ best result was eleventh in 2009-10.
Hughes has also led Stoke through the 50-point barrier every season on his watch, something Pulis never achieved.
And one of the main bug-bears of Pulis’ reign was a lack of goals, with Stoke mustering just 38 goals or less in four of their first five seasons in the Premier League.
Under Hughes though, they’ve hit 41 goals or more in every campaign, and famously hammered Liverpool 6-1 two years ago.
But then the Staffordshire outfit did reach the FA Cup Final under the now-West Brom boss in 2011, and were rewarded with a subsequent run in the Europa League.
For all of their improvements under Hughes, and the arrival of players like Marko Arnautovic, Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke have yet to return to the continent.
So, is that a worthwhile trade-off? Would Stoke supporters be happy with a slightly worse league finish if it meant another cup final?
It took Stoke fans a good three or four years before they started to become disillusioned with life under Pulis, with the same-old mid-table finishes.
Hughes has added gloss, flair and dash of excitement to Pulis’ uber-solid foundations, but as they head for a fourth-consecutive ninth-place finish in a row, are Stoke fans about to call for another fresh approach this summer?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing