Hughes Under Pressure At Stoke

The understanding is that Stoke are not convinced that any of the managers now on the market have a better chance of keeping them up when compared to Hughes.

On every level, the plan failed.

Rafa Benitez's side have been terrible since the end of October.

West Ham were lame that night and were sunk 1-0 by an equally disinterested Arsenal team in a drab match.

"He's doing some good things, but he still has plenty of room for improvement".

Cue frantic screams from all quarters of the internet that Stoke have to sack Mark Hughes to survive. They have won just nine of their last 39 Premier League matches, a run stretching back to last January. The current malaise can not continue for much longer.

Hughes surely had to win yesterday after fielding such a weakened team at Chelsea, gambling on keeping his squad fresh for this game.

Newcastle's victory, which made it seven points earned from the last four games, saw them go four points clear of the relegation zone as they moved up from 16th to 13th.

But it looked as if all the flak that surrounded Hughes' team selection at Stamford Bridge had demoralised his players.

Hughes brought back Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen among six changes in the hope of sparking a performance to stem the widespread supporter unrest and halt the growing speculation about his future. So did their team-mates.

If he sticks to his gameplan and like many other Premier League managers emerging from the gruelling Festive fixtures, he makes another raft of changes against Coventry it tips the balance in favour of a giantkilling and more misery for Stoke fans.

The 22-year-old set up the winning goal scored by Ayoze Perez. The Newcastle boss had chose to pair Perez in a two-man attack with Christian Atsu, despite the fact that neither of them are out-and-out centre-forwards.

Christian Atsu was off-target with two early half-chances before firing straight at Jack Butland from DeAndre Yedlin's cutback. The betting firm is backing a first-half draw at the price of (2.15).

Stoke began to exert some pressure and Charlie Adam brought a diving save out of Darlow with a free-kick in the 27th minute.

Vanessa Coleman