Match of the Week – Bromsgrove Sporting v Didcot Town

Last week’s match saw Fulham beat Southampton 3-2 as the Mark Hughes magic touch continues to work at Southampton 🙂

Stoke beat Derby County at home on Wednesday 2-1 despite Etebo being sent off in the first half. Goals from Clucus and Ince sealed the win for us. Reading away this Saturday afternoon, who despite their low placing in the table have only lost one of their last five home games.

Match of the week this week is Didcot Town who have now had four wins on the trot, including a late winner in a 4-3 win over Bedford Town on Tuesday night. That win move them up to fifth and into the play-off zone, when just over a fortnight again they were fourth from bottom, albeit with games in hand. Saturday sees the Diddy away at second placed Bromsgrove Sporting. They have yet to drop any points at home this season, so a very tough game for Didcot. They are a relatively new club having only formed in 2010, with an impressive average attendance of over750. Tough game for both teams and will go for 2-2.

Match of the Week – Fulham v Southampton

Gibraltar were soundly beaten 6-2 by Armenia to end any promotion hopes in the UEFA Nations League

Fulham have a new manger Claudio Ranieri who guided Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2015/16. Fulham are currently bottom of the Premier League, having lost five on the trot and face Southampton, managed by former Stoke boss Mark Hughes. They are just above the relegation places having picked up three draws in their last five games. I am going for a Fulham win 2-1 and hopefully they will hasten Mark Hughes getting the sack as he will ruin Southampton like he did at Stoke and QPR previously.

Stoke’s U21 game at Port Vale in the Checkatrade trophy will take place on December 4 at 7pm. Stoke have been allocated 4,000 tickets and despite the early kick off should see a decent sized crowd.

Stoke host QPR tomorrow, with QPR on a good run of form and Stoke need to find that goal scoring form again. Etebo looks set to miss out having got back only yesterday from international duty, whilst Tom Ince has only trained recently following an injury. Maybe we can start with Bojan?! Former player John Eustace is current assistant manager at QPR.

Didcot Town won 2-1 away at Barton Rovers midweek to lift them to eleventh in the table. Next game is at home to Kempston Rovers this Saturday.

Mark Hughes appointed Southampton manager until end of the season

Mark Hughes, sacked by Stoke City after four and half years in charge, has been appointed Southampton manager until the end of the season – eight Premier League games plus the FA Cup QF this weekend away at Wigan. Previous clubs who appointed a manager for such a short time didn’t fare well – Hull (Dowie) and Newcastle (Shearer).

With West Brom all but relegated, the remaining two relegation places look to be between us, Palace, West Ham (the only PL club to have shipped more goals than us this season), Huddersfield and Southampton. Swansea could get dragged in again especially if the FA Cup proves a distraction and we play them away on the final game of this season, with Crystal Palace our final home game of the season the week before.

Bauer signs for Stoke and the search for a new manager continues…

Derby County boss Gary Rowett signed a new extended contract with Derby quashing any rumours linking him with the Stoke manager’s job. Seems like good work by his agents as looking at various press reports Rowett was not top of the shortlist.

One manager who is now seemingly getting attention is former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores. Currently managing Espanyol he has an impressive managerial record and keen on defence, something we desperately need! Martin O’Neill is also thought to have been contacted by the club and presumably he would be a short term appointment until the summer due to his commitments as Ireland manager.

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(Image copyright of Stoke City FC)

Austrian international right back Mortiz Bauer has signed for a fee of £5.5m from Rabin Kazan on a 4 1/2 year contract. He looks like a starter for the Man Utd game on Monday and seemingly Tom Edwards will give way after an impressive run in the first team.

Nice touch and statement from Mark Hughes via the LMA (League Managers Association)

“I wish to thank the Coates family and the Board, for all of their support during my four and a half memorable years at Stoke City.“Together, we have enjoyed four successful campaigns including three consecutive ninth placed finishes; the highest position the club has reached since 1975. I will always be very proud of this achievement and I’d like to thank my coaching staff, the players and everyone at Stoke City for their hard work during my time as manager.

“Although so far this season we haven’t matched the high standards set in previous years, I remain confident that performances and results will improve in the second half of the season.

“Finally, I’d like to wish the club and its loyal supporters success and good fortune in the future.

“I look forward to the next challenge in my management career.”

Mark Hughes sacked by Stoke City

Club statement here –

http://www.stokecityfc.com/news/club-statement-14

STOKE CITY can confirm that the contract of manager Mark Hughes has been terminated with immediate effect.

We would like to thank Mark for all he has achieved for the Club over the last four and a half years, notably in guiding us to three successive ninth places finishes in the Premier League, and we wish him every success for the future.

The Club will look to appoint a new manager as soon as possible and will be making no further comment at this time.

Mark Hughes still in charge for the Coventry game…

Mark Hughes will be in charge for the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Coventry City (who must fancy a cup upset given the current unrest at Stoke) according to SSN.

The local Stoke paper backs this story up as well –

From ‘The Sentinel’ website –

‘Sources at the bet365 Stadium suggest Mark Hughes has earned a stay of execution and will take charge of Stoke’s FA Cup tie at Coventry City this weekend. But rather than being a vote of confidence in their manager, it appears the club are merely biding their time while they look at alternatives to the Welshman.’

A weird state of affairs as even if Hughes engineers a cup win on Saturday he could be dismissed, more than likely after our next game away at Man Utd. The trouble is by delaying any managerial change or backing Hughes, we are losing momentum in stabilizing the team and adding much needed new players. Indeed West Ham have rumoured to bid £15m for one of our few in form players Joe Allen. If he left we’d be unlikely to sign a decent replacement. They are welcome to Glenn Johnson though who they were after in the summer.

The Stoke board need to either back Hughes so he can *gulp* sign his transfer targets or get a new managerial team in ASAP and get cracking in the transfer market. January is rarely a time for bargains and you often get overpriced players (or flops in our case – Imbula and Berahino both signed in January). Either way, Peter Coates and co. need to get off the fence and either back him or sack him.