Stoke City’s start to the new Premier League season has been something of a disaster.
Mark Hughes’ side have taken just two points from their opening six games, including Saturday’s 1-1 draw against West Brom, and only Sunderland’s worse form is sparing them from being bottom of the table.
Despite leading Stoke to three successive ninth-place finishes, their highest top flight position in forty years, Hughes is seen as the favourite to be the first managerial casualty of the new season, along with Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin.
The manager had to field questions in recent days in relation to rumours that there was dressing-room unrest at the Bet365 Stadium, particularly over new signing Wilfried Bony’s attitude in training. Hughes, as expected, strongly denied the allegations.
Indeed, so sure are the Express that Hughes is walking an extreme tightrope, that they are running with an exclusive this morning that Stoke chairman Peter Coates is considering replacing him with former Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
Bruce has been out of the game since early August, when he walked away from the KCOM Stadium just before the start of the new season in a row with the owner.
Bruce was one of a number of candidates sounded out for the England job earlier this summer, before the job eventually went to Sam Allardyce, and would surely love the chance to get back into the Premier League so soon after leaving it.
That being said, the chances of Hughes being fired so early, especially given what he has done for the club since taking over in 2013, would appear remote. He will surely be given every opportunity to turn this slump around, and though their next match is a daunting trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United net Saturday, that will hae no bearing on the manager’s immediate future.
Of course, this is a results business. Hughes will know more than anyone that Stoke’s form need to improve, and soon.