Is Mark Hughes closing in on the exit door at Stoke City?

Is Mark Hughes closing in on the exit door at Stoke City?

Stoke City were the latest victims of Burnley, who rose remarkably to 4th place in the Premier League after Ashley Barnes’ 89th minute winner at Turf Moor.

It was elation for Sean Dyche’s men, but that result sparked more disappointment and frustration amongst the Potters’ supporters, a lot of them now calling for Mark Hughes’ head.

Tony Pulis instilled Premier League stability at Stoke ever since their promotion in the 2007/08 campaign, and Hughes too has succeeded since his appointment in 2013, but the wheels seem to be coming off this season.

The Welshman led the club to three consecutive 9th placed finishes in his first three seasons, before slipping four places to a 13th placed finish in the last Premier League campaign.

Typically, where a team sits in the table at Christmas tends to be a relatively accurate indication of the sort of position they will finish at the end of the season- that being 15th for Stoke currently.

However, after the Burnley defeat, the bottom three is a territory that is looking increasingly possible for the Potters to slip in given their current form.

It is granted that Hughes could turn it around at Stoke, but in today’s world managers are under increasing amounts of scrutiny and one win in seven games is the type of run that could realistically force owners into a firing.

The currently named bet365 stadium has previously had the ‘fortress’ tag associated with it – the cliche “could they do it on a cold Tuesday night at Stoke?” is becoming less and less relevant.

Teams used to really struggle going to play their football there, but that seems to have faded in the last couple of seasons.

Many seem to think that the manager looks more and more lost on the touchline, his decisions amongst Stoke’s decline being questioned and questioned.

One that really seems to have caused frustration is in their last outing, in which Hughes combated Dyche’s two attacking substitutes by taking off Xherdan Shaqiri.

The players being confronted by furious Stoke fans sums up both the problems at the club at the moment and the dismay felt by the fans.

Stability is what Stoke have thrived off and succeeded from in previous seasons, but this is another heavy blow to that.

One thing is for certain, the Potters’ next three games are huge ones – they welcome West Ham and West Brom, before travelling to Huddersfield.

Had City have been heading into those three fixtures in the form of their lives you wouldn’t have discounted nine points.

Regardless of their current predicament, they are matches I’m sure everyone associated with the club will be relatively pleased to see coming up and see them as games where they will have some belief heading into.

On the flip side, the pressure is really on for Stoke to stand up to the challenge and expectation of the upcoming trio – it could well be the decisive factor in the state that the club is in as it heads into 2018.