Saturday’s dismal 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham saw many Stoke City fans clamouring for the exit of under-fire boss Mark Hughes, but despite a grim start to the season from a Potters’ perspective, the stats show the Welsh boss deserves time to turn this blip around.
After all, he comfortably has the best win percentage of any of Stoke’s last four bosses, ahead of Tony Pulis’ record in both of his stints at the helm. Factor in that Hughes has only managed the team in the Premier League, and his 38.3 per cent win rate is even more impressive.
He’s also built a Potters squad which has overcome some of the Premier League’s best sides, en route to three successive top-10 finishes.
Manchester United have been sent packing from Staffordshire without a point in their last two visits, while Stoke also beat Man City twice on the bounce under Hughes, and thumped Liverpool 6-1 in May 2015.
While the current Potters crop is taking some time to gel, there’s no question the Welsh gaffer is improving their squad year on year.
The addition of players like Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri, Marc Muniesa and Mame Biram Diouf have all added huge quality – and without Hughes’ playing connection with European giants Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man United, it’s likely that the Potters may have struggled to attract those names.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Stoke have begun the season with just about the toughest fixture list possible. An opening quartet of games against title favourites Manchester City, challengers Tottenham, in-form Everton and a Middlesbrough side playing their first top-flight game in seven years is unlikely to produce anything but a stuttering start.
With four winnable games up next, including a home fixture against a West Brom side with a dismal away record and struggling Sunderland, we could well see Hughes guide the Potters back to mid-table within the next month.
The clubs who have given the former Fulham boss time have certainly been rewarded. After a difficult opening spell in the Blackburn hotseat, he responded by delivering a sixth-placed Premier League finish in his first full season.
And more recently in 2013-14, he followed up a run of one point in six games with 18 points from the following nine games, to deliver the first of his top-half finishes to the club.
Hughes and his squad are well-equipped to quickly transform Stoke from basement dwellers to an upper mid-table outfit once again, so savvy punters should back them at 4/1 for a top-half finish, before the side begin to click in the coming weeks.
And with Leicester City already faltering and West Bromwich Albion winless at home since March, the 4/1 for Stoke to be top dogs in the Midlands could also be too good to ignore.
Mark Hughes’ men are a tempting 3/1 for victory at Crystal Palace this weekend. And if the Stoke board stick with their man, we reckon you can bank on them rising back up the table.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing