Hughes as manager of Stoke City in 2015
|Full name||Leslie Mark Hughes|
|Date of birth||1 November 1963|
|Place of birth||Ruabon, Wrexham, Wales|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|1987–1988||→ Bayern Munich (loan)||18||(6)|
|2012||Queens Park Rangers|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
During his playing career he was most noted for two spells at Manchester United, but he also played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, as well as the English clubs Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and finally Blackburn Rovers. He also made 72 appearances for Wales scoring 16 goals. He retired from playing in 2002.
He won a host of winners' medals during his playing career, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and two European Cup Winners' Cups. He also collected an FA Cup runners-up medal and a League Cup runners-up medal. Hughes was the first player to win the PFA Players' Player of the Year award twice, in 1989 and 1991.
His reign as Wales manager was his first managerial post; he was appointed in 1999 and remained in the role until 2004. He failed to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship during his five years in charge, although his reign coincided with a marked improvement in results; he came particularly close to securing European Championship qualification in 2004. Hughes then spent four years in charge of Blackburn, guiding them to sixth place in 2005–06. He took charge of Manchester City in June 2008 for a year and a half before spending the 2010–11 season at Fulham.
He joined Queens Park Rangers in January 2012, helping them retain their Premier League status in 2011–12. Despite some high-profile signings in the summer of 2012, QPR began the 2012–13 season in very poor form, and Hughes was sacked on 23 November 2012.
Hughes was appointed manager of Stoke City on 30 May 2013. He guided the club to three consecutive ninth-place Premier League finishes in 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2015–16; however progress at Stoke stalled in the 2016–17 season, with the club finishing 13th in the table. Following a poor start to the 2017–18 season, with the club in the relegation zone heading into the new year, he was sacked by Stoke on 6 January 2018, hours after an FA Cup third round exit to League Two side Coventry City. He was appointed manager of fellow struggling side Southampton on 14 March 2018, signing a contract until the end of the season, with the Saints sat one point above his former club Stoke in 17th place at the time of his appointment.
Born in Ruabon, Wrexham, Hughes joined Manchester United after leaving school in the summer of 1980, having been spotted by the team's North Wales talent scout Hugh Roberts. However, he did not make his first team debut for three years – in a 1–1 draw away to Oxford United in the League Cup, in the 1983–84 season.
When Hughes made his United debut, the club's forward partnership consisted of 27-year-old Irishman Frank Stapleton and 18-year-old Norman Whiteside from Northern Ireland, and breaking up that partnership would not be an easy challenge for Hughes. But Hughes quickly broke into the first team, partnering Frank Stapleton in attack while Norman Whiteside was switched to midfield to partner Ray Wilkins and stand in for the injury prone Remi Moses. The departure of Wilkins to Milan at the end of the season saw manager Ron Atkinson decide to stick to using Whiteside in the centre of midfield, enabling Hughes to keep his place in the first team ahead of new signing Alan Brazil, and he was rewarded handsomely as he scored 25 goals in 55 matches across all competitions as United achieved an FA Cup final victory over Everton. They also finished fourth in the league.
Hughes managed a further 18 goals in the 1985–86 season, where they led until February having won their first ten league matches of the season, before a dismal second half of the season saw them slip into fourth place in the final table. That season saw him score 17 goals in the Football League First Division – it would remain the highest goals tally in a league season throughout his career.
In the summer of 1986, Hughes was surprisingly sold to Barcelona for £2 million. United announced on 21 March 1986 that Hughes would be heading for Spain at the end of the season, but the transfer had been agreed many weeks earlier.
Manager Terry Venables signed Hughes at the same time that he signed Gary Lineker from Everton to form a new strike partnership at the Nou Camp, but Hughes was a disappointment in his only season at Barcelona, whereas Lineker did well in three seasons there.
Bayern Munich (loan)
He was subsequently loaned out to German club Bayern Munich for the 1987–88 season, where he regained his form. On 11 November 1987, he played two competitive matches in one day, first for Wales against Czechoslovakia in Prague in a Euro 1988 qualifier, and second, after being driven across the border into Germany, appearing as a substitute for Bayern in their second round cup replay over Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Return to Manchester United
In May 1988, Hughes returned to Manchester United, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, for a then club record fee of £1.8 million. As he had done in his first spell at Old Trafford, Hughes proved to be a dynamic goalscorer and was a key player for the club over the next seven years. Alex Ferguson had been keen on re-signing Hughes for United soon after becoming manager in November 1986, but Hughes would have had been liable for taxation on money earned playing overseas if he had returned to England before April 1988.
In 1988–89, his first season back in England, United disappointed in the league and finished 11th after an erratic season. They had gone ten league matches without a win in the autumn but then went on a strong run after the turn of the new year to lift them to third place, only for a late season collapse to drag them down to mid-table. Hughes was voted PFA Player of the Year, the first Manchester United player to be credited with that award, in its 16th season. He was also United's joint top scorer that season, along with Brian McClair, on 16 goals.
A year later, Hughes scored twice as United drew 3–3 with Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final, before a Lee Martin goal in the replay gave United their first major trophy in five years. He was United's top goalscorer that season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions; 13 of his goals had come in the league, where United finished a disappointing 13th. He scored his third United hat-trick in a September clash against Millwall in the league at Old Trafford, which United won 5–1.
The following season, Hughes scored both goals against former club Barcelona as United lifted the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, winning the final 2–1 in Rotterdam. Once again, he was their top scorer, this time with 21 goals in all competitions, although his tally in the league was bettered by Brian McClair and Steve Bruce. They also reached the Football League Cup final that year, but United suffered a shock 1–0 defeat to a Sheffield Wednesday side managed by Ron Atkinson, who had been Hughes's manager in his first spell at Old Trafford. Hughes was also voted PFA Player of the Year again this season. The 1990–91 season also saw Hughes score the last of his four hat-tricks for United, in a League Cup quarter-final replay against Southampton at Old Trafford, which United won 3–2. In 1991–92, Hughes suffered the disappointment of missing out on a league title medal as United were pipped to the title by Leeds United, but had some compensation in the form of a League Cup winner's medal. He found the net 11 times in the league and 14 times in all competitions.
For much of the 1991–92 season, United had been linked with a move for the Southampton striker Alan Shearer, but the player chose to stay at the South Coast club until the season's end before making a decision about his future, before deciding to sign for Blackburn Rovers. Sir Alex Ferguson remained intent on signing a new striker for United that summer, although it was far from clear whether it was Hughes or his strike-partner Brian McClair who would lose his place in the first team or be switched to another position in order to accommodate a new signing. Ferguson's hunt for a new striker ended with the acquisition of Dion Dublin, although Dublin was injured after playing just a few matches for the club, and it was not long before United were in the hunt for another new striker, as a lack of goals were seeing them slip behind in the title race. Eric Cantona was eventually signed at the end of November, which prompted interest from Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan, who had first asked Ferguson about Hughes' availability that summer. Ferguson, however, insisted that Hughes was not for sale, and he remained a regular choice in the first team, playing alongside Cantona while McClair was mostly selected in central midfield from then on.
In May 1993, Hughes finally collected an English league title medal as United won the first-ever Premier League title; Hughes was United's top scorer with 15 goals in the league and a further goal in the League Cup. From December, he mostly played alongside new signing Eric Cantona in attack, with Brian McClair being switched to the centre of midfield. Hughes collected yet more silverware in 1994 as United won the league title as well as the FA Cup, with Hughes scoring in the final. He also scored Manchester United's consolation goal in their 3–1 defeat in the 1994 League Cup Final at the hands of Aston Villa at Wembley in that season. In so doing, he became only the second player (after Norman Whiteside in 1983) to score in the finals of both the domestic cups in the same season. This has since been achieved a third time by Didier Drogba in 2007. His partnership with Cantona in attack also went from strength to strength, as he found the net 22 times in all competitions as Cantona scored a further 25.
In December 1994, with United second to Blackburn in the race for the league title, media reports were linking United with the signature of several highly rated strikers including Andy Cole and Stan Collymore, and there had already been some impressive performances in the first team from 20-year-old striker Paul Scholes. Hughes was now widely tipped to be the player most likely to lose his place to any new signing in the forward positions, and when United completed the £7 million signing of Cole on 10 January 1995, it was almost immediately reported that new Everton manager Joe Royle was tabling a £2.5 million bid for Hughes.
Four days later, however, Hughes suffered a knee injury early in a match against Newcastle, colliding with opposition goalkeeper Pavel Srníček as he scored a goal. The injury was initially feared to be cruciate knee ligament damage, which would inevitably have put him out of action for at least the rest of the season, but it was instead revealed to be a serious gash, and he was back in action within a month, during which time United were left without the services of Eric Cantona, who attacked a Crystal Palace fan and was subsequently banned for eight months. Hughes now found himself with his first team place still looking secure, at least in the short term, and in partnership with Andy Cole. He even signed a new two-year contract.
Hughes came close to winning both the Premier League and FA Cup again in 1995, but a failure to beat West Ham United on the final day of the season and the inability to score an equaliser against Everton in the FA Cup final a week later condemned United to their first trophyless season in six years. The FA Cup final was his last match in a United shirt. He had scored eight goals that season and 12 in all competitions. During two spells at the club, he had found the net a total of 163 times (116 of his goals coming during his second spell). Perhaps the most memorable of those goals came in April 1994, when he scored a spectacular equaliser in the final minute of extra time in the FA Cup semi-final against Oldham Athletic at Wembley, a goal which has been described by many as one of the finest ever scored by any Manchester United player.
Hughes scored eight league goals in 1994–95 (two of them in the 9–0 demolition of Ipswich Town at Old Trafford on 4 March 1995) and managed a total of 12 in all competitions (two in the FA Cup and another two in the European Cup). By the time of his departure from Manchester United, he was the last player at the club to have been there before the appointment of Sir Alex Ferguson as manager in November 1986.
Hughes left Old Trafford for the second and final time in June 1995 when he was sold to Chelsea for £1 million, in a summer that also saw the departures of players such as Paul Ince (to Inter Milan) and Andrei Kanchelskis (to Everton). Ironically, Hughes scored a consolation goal for Chelsea in the home Premier League fixture against Manchester United in 1995–96; a 4–1 win for United at Stamford Bridge in October. He was on the losing side again as United beat Chelsea 2–1 in the FA Cup semi-final that season, less than two years after he had scored one of United's goals in their FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
Hughes was one of the key players in Chelsea's resurgence as a top club in the late 1990s, forming an potent strike partnership with Gianfranco Zola and helping to freeze out Gianluca Vialli (who became the club's player-manager in February 1998). He put in match-winning performances against Liverpool and Wimbledon in the FA Cup in 1997, and Vicenza in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup a year later, playing a big part in Chelsea's glory in both of these competitions. In winning the FA Cup, he became the only player in the 20th century to win the trophy four times. He ended his Chelsea career with 39 goals from 123 matches and was transferred to Southampton for £650,000 in July 1998.
In July 1998, Hughes was signed by Southampton for a fee of £650,000 by manager Dave Jones, as an alternative to injury-plagued David Hirst, who retired within 18 months of Hughes' arrival. Unfortunately, the goals failed to flow and Hughes was pushed back into midfield where his experience helped Southampton maintain their Premier League status.
His two goals for Southampton came against Blackburn Rovers, who he was later to join, and a "memorable volley" at home to Newcastle on 15 August 1999. Hughes suffered with disciplinary problems throughout his career, and in his first season at The Dell he received 14 yellow cards, a total which has never been exceeded in the Premier League.
When Glenn Hoddle arrived as Southampton's manager in January 2000, Hughes did not fit into his plans and he left for Everton in March 2000. He played 16 times over the course of seven months for Everton, scoring his only goal against Watford.
Hughes left Goodison Park on a free transfer for Blackburn Rovers in October 2000, moving outside the top division for the first time in his playing career in 2000–01. He played a key role in getting Blackburn promoted from Division One in 2001. He also lifted the League Cup with Blackburn in February 2002, before finally hanging up his boots in July 2002 a few months short of his 39th birthday.
Hughes' final career goal came in a 2–1 Premier League defeat to Leicester City on 9 April 2002. At the time, he was the second oldest player to score in the Premier League, behind Stuart Pearce. More than a decade on he is still ranked as third in this category following goals by Teddy Sheringham, who scored his final Premier League goal in December 2006 at the age of 40.
Hughes was appointed as head coach of the Wales national team in 1999. Initially appointed on a temporary basis alongside Neville Southall to replace Bobby Gould, Hughes had soon done enough to earn himself a long-term contract, with Southall eventually leaving the set-up. When he had taken over Wales were going through a bad patch, but in the five years with Hughes in charge, Wales came close to qualifying for UEFA Euro 2004. In their Euro 2004 qualifying group, Wales ended up second, beating Italy 2–1 in Cardiff in the process, but was denied a place in the final tournament after losing to Russia in the playoffs.
Hughes quit the Welsh national side in September 2004 to take charge of Blackburn in the FA Premier League, the last club he had played for. His key aim was to keep Blackburn clear of relegation, which he succeeded in doing, while also taking the club to an FA Cup semi-final for the first time in over 40 years.
In his second season, Blackburn surprised even the most optimistic supporters by finishing inside the top six of the Premier League and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, beating teams such as Chelsea, Manchester United (twice) and Arsenal en route. After just missing out on the League Cup final, his team sealed their spot in Europe by defeating champions Chelsea 1–0 at home. On 4 May 2006, Hughes and assistant Mark Bowen signed new three-year contracts to remain at Blackburn until the summer of 2009.
Hughes then set about creating a formidable side at Ewood Park. He entered the transfer market, bringing in players such as Benni McCarthy (£2 million), David Bentley (£500,000), Ryan Nelsen (free), Stephen Warnock (£1.5 million), Roque Santa Cruz (£3.5 million), and Christopher Samba (£400,000). Rovers finished tenth in the Premier League in 2006–07, and reached the UEFA Cup round of 32, where they were knocked out by Bayer Leverkusen 3–2 on aggregate. Rovers faced Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, their third consecutive semi-final since Hughes took charge. The match ended in defeat, 2–1. He won the Premier League Manager of the Month award for October 2007, and eventually led Blackburn to a league finish of seventh in 2007–08, Hughes's final season in charge at Ewood Park.
During his spell in charge of Blackburn, Hughes' side was accused of being "over-physical" and "dirty" on multiple occasions and the club finished bottom of the Premier League disciplinary table in all four of Hughes' seasons in charge.
On 2 June 2008, Manchester City sacked manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. Hughes was reported to be the first choice of City owner Thaksin Shinawatra to replace Eriksson. Interest was also reported from Chelsea, however, who had recently sacked their manager, Avram Grant. Blackburn confirmed on 2 June that they had agreed to allow Hughes to talk to City. The following day, Blackburn agreed to a then-world record compensation package for Hughes to take over as manager of Manchester City, and he was appointed as head coach on 4 June 2008 on a three-year contract.
Following the appointment, Manchester City's executive chairman Garry Cook stated, "The Club intends to invest in new players as well as securing the long term services of key members of the current first team squad. Mark has already identified some of the players and backroom staff that he wants to see here at City, and we will begin the process of recruiting them immediately." The players who did arrive were Jô, Tal Ben Haim, Vincent Kompany, Shaun Wright-Phillips (returning from Chelsea) and Pablo Zabaleta. Hughes' first match in charge resulted in a 4–2 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park but was followed up with 3–0 wins against West Ham and Sunderland.
On 1 September 2008, Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi United investment group, who made large amounts of transfer funds available to Hughes, allowing City to break the British transfer record and sign Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million. Hughes was very active in the January 2009 transfer window, signing Wayne Bridge from Chelsea, Craig Bellamy from West Ham and Shay Given from Newcastle, as well as Nigel de Jong from Hamburger SV. City finished tenth in Hughes' first season with the club, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. City's home form was among the best in the League, but their away form was among the worst.
In the summer of 2009, Hughes added Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn, and Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Touré from Arsenal to his squad, while Carlos Tevez also joined after his two-year deal with Manchester United expired. In addition, Hughes signed defenders Joleon Lescott from Everton for a reported £22 million, and Sylvinho – a former Arsenal and double Champions League winner with Barcelona – on a free transfer.
Hughes started the 2009–10 Premier League campaign with a 2–0 away win at former club Blackburn, followed by a 1–0 win over another former club, Barcelona, in the Joan Gamper Trophy at a capacity Camp Nou. City then won 1–0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Eastlands, followed by Crystal Palace in the League Cup 2–0 and Portsmouth 1–0 to maintain a 100% clean sheet start to the season. City continued in good form, beating Arsenal 4–2 and West Ham 3–1 either side of a 4–3 derby day defeat to Manchester United. City would then, however, go on a run of seven-straight draws.
Manchester City beat Scunthorpe United 5–1 and Arsenal 3–0 in the League Cup to reach their first semi-final since 1981. Hughes then led City to their first victory over his former club Chelsea for five years with a 2–1 victory. That last victory was one of only two wins in 11 successive Premier League matches, and Hughes left City before their League Cup two-legged semi-final against Manchester United; he was sacked on 19 December 2009 and replaced by Roberto Mancini.
On 29 July 2010, Hughes became the new manager of Fulham, following the departure of Roy Hodgson to Liverpool. Hughes agreed a two-year contract with the London side and was officially unveiled to the media on 3 August 2010, before his first match as manager on 7 August against Werder Bremen. Hughes was joined at Fulham by his backroom team of Eddie Niedzwiecki, Mark Bowen and Kevin Hitchcock. His first league match in charge of the Cottagers came exactly a week later, when they drew 0–0 at Bolton Wanderers on the opening day of the Premier League season, followed by a resolute display against Manchester United in a 2–2 draw at Craven Cottage.
Draws followed in four of Fulham's next five Premier League matches against Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers, Everton and West Ham, with a solitary 2–1 home win over Wolves. This meant that at that stage – including the seven-draw streak at Manchester City before his dismissal the season before – all but two (86%) of Hughes' last fifteen Premiership matches had been drawn. The bizarre run, exclusively made up of draws or 2–1 results, continued with 2–1 defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion in the second half of October 2010. At the end of the 2010–11 season, Hughes led Fulham to an eighth-placed finish in the league and UEFA Europa League qualification through the Fair Play league.
Hughes resigned as manager of Fulham on 2 June 2011, having spent less than 11 months at the club. Following his departure, he said, "As a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences." Fulham owner Mohamed Al-Fayed hit back at Hughes for questioning the club's ambition, calling him a "strange man" and a "flop" and says he rescued him from becoming a forgotten man after being sacked by Manchester City. In September 2013, Hughes admitted he made a mistake in leaving Fulham when he did.
Queens Park Rangers
On 10 January 2012, Hughes agreed terms with Queens Park Rangers and signed a two-and-a-half-year contract as their new manager, replacing the recently sacked Neil Warnock. Hughes' first match in charge of QPR came on 15 January 2012, a 1–0 defeat away to Newcastle. Hughes's first win as QPR manager came on 17 January 2012, a 1–0 victory over Milton Keynes Dons in a FA Cup third round replay at Loftus Road. His first Premier League victory was on 21 January 2012, QPR beating Wigan Athletic 3–1 at home.
In January 2012, Hughes brought in two defenders in Nedum Onuoha and Taye Taiwo and two strikers in Djibril Cissé and Bobby Zamora. Cissé made an immediate impact scoring on his debut against Aston Villa. Defeats against Wolves, Blackburn and Fulham, however, prevented QPR from pulling themselves away from relegation trouble. Victories over Liverpool, Arsenal, Stoke City, Swansea City and Tottenham meant that they went into the final match of the season two points ahead of Bolton. They faced Hughes' former club Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium, who needed a win to secure the Premier League title. Despite scoring twice through Cissé and Jamie Mackie, two late goals from Edin Džeko and Sergio Agüero earned City a dramatic victory and championship title. Bolton's failure to beat Stoke, however, meant that QPR survived in the Premier League.
In the summer of 2012, QPR brought a large number of high-profile signings with the intent of establishing themselves as a Premier League club. In came Kieron Dyer, Ryan Nelsen, Andrew Johnson, Robert Green, Samba Diakité, Fábio, Park Ji-sung and Junior Hoilett all before the start of the season. Rangers' new-look squad, however, got off to an awful start as they crashed to a 5–0 home defeat against Swansea on the opening day of the 2012–13 Premier League season. Hughes branded his players performance as "embarrassing". Hughes then signed José Bosingwa, Júlio César and Esteban Granero but saw no improvement in results, going 12 matches without victory. He was sacked as manager on 23 November 2012 after the team suffered a 3–1 home defeat to Southampton six days earlier and replaced by Harry Redknapp.
Hughes was appointed manager of Stoke City on 30 May 2013, signing a three-year contract after taking over from fellow Welshman Tony Pulis. Speaking after being announced as Stoke's new manager, Hughes admitted that he had a point to prove following his disappointing spell at QPR. Hughes' first task was to release Rory Delap, Mamady Sidibe, Matthew Upson, Dean Whitehead, Carlo Nash and Matty Lund, at the same time giving Jermaine Pennant a new contract. He made his first signing on 28 June 2013 in Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters from PSV for a fee of €3.6 million (£3 million). Hughes' first match in charge of Stoke on 17 August 2013 ended in a 1–0 defeat at Liverpool. Hughes' first win as Stoke manager came in his next match as Stoke beat Crystal Palace 2–1 at the Britannia Stadium. This was followed up by a 1–0 win away at West Ham. On 2 September 2013, transfer deadline day, Hughes brought in Austrian forward Marko Arnautović from Werder Bremen and Stephen Ireland on loan from Aston Villa. Meanwhile, Michael Kightly, Cameron Jerome and Ryan Shotton all departed the club on long-term loans.
Stoke soon lost their early form, however, and went through September and October without a Premier League win, picking up just two points and scoring only three goals. Stoke improved in November and December, going a run of one defeat in seven matches, including a 3–2 win over Chelsea on 7 December 2013. December ended badly for Stoke and Hughes, however, as they were on the receiving end of a 5–1 defeat at Newcastle in which Stoke were reduced to nine men and Hughes himself was sent off. Stoke went through January 2014 in poor form and managed to pick up just a point and a 1–0 defeat at Sunderland on 29 January, leaving the club just above the relegation zone. The one piece of transfer activity Hughes did was to swap Kenwyne Jones for Peter Odemwingie in a player-exchange deal with Cardiff City. The arrival of Odemwingie enabled Hughes to alter his tactics and formation and it immediately paid off with a 2–1 victory over Manchester United. Stoke's form continued to improve and they went through March unbeaten with wins over Arsenal, West Ham, Aston Villa and Hull City. Stoke proceeded to end the season strongly with wins over Newcastle, Fulham and a 2–1 win against West Brom on the final day of the season, which saw Stoke finish in ninth position, their best finish since 1974–75.
For the 2014–15 season, Hughes signed Sunderland full-back Phil Bardsley, Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell and Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf on free transfers. Also arriving for small fees were Slovakian defender Dionatan Teixeira and Barcelona forward Bojan, while wingers Victor Moses and Oussama Assaidi joined on season-long loans. Departing were Matthew Etherington, Michael Kightly, Cameron Jerome and Ryan Shotton. Stoke had a mixed start to the 2014–15 season, losing 1–0 to Aston Villa on the opening day, drawing 1–1 with ten-men Hull City, yet defeating reigning Premier League champions Manchester City 1–0. Stoke's inconsistency continued through the autumn as Stoke managed just three wins beating Newcastle, Swansea and Tottenham. The club then suffered frustrating home defeats against newly promoted Burnley and Leicester City. Stoke found form in December beating Arsenal 3–2, Everton 1–0 and West Brom 2–0.
In January 2015, Hughes began talks with the Stoke board of directors about extending his contract with the club. Hughes' only new arrival in January was that of German centre back Philipp Wollscheid from Bayer Leverkusen. Stoke suffered a number in injuries to key players in January and February, most notably to Shawcross and Bojan. In February, Stoke suffered back to back 4–1 defeats against Manchester City and then in the FA Cup against Blackburn. Hughes signed a new contract with Stoke in March 2015 to keep him contracted until the summer of 2019. City then went a run of three wins against Aston Villa, Hull and Everton and then three defeats against West Brom, Crystal Palace and Chelsea. Stoke ended the season strongly with victories over Southampton (2–1), Tottenham (3–0) and Liverpool (6–1), ensuring a second consecutive ninth-place finish.
Hughes made a number of alterations to his squad in preparation for the 2015–16 campaign. Leaving the club were the long-serving trio of Asmir Begović, Robert Huth and Steven Nzonzi, with Stoke receiving their record transfer fee in the process. With the money available, Hughes broke Stoke's transfer record by paying Inter Milan £12 million for Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri. Hughes also brought in Spanish striker Joselu for £5.75 million, Dutch midfielder Ibrahim Afellay, Shay Given, Jakob Haugaard, Glen Johnson and Marco van Ginkel. The club had a poor start to the season, failing to win any of their first six fixtures, losing three of them. Stoke recovered well, however, winning their next three matches against AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Swansea. Stoke's improvement continued through November and December with victories against Premier League champions Chelsea, Southampton, Manchester City and Manchester United with the style of football being played by Hughes' team being praised by the national press. Stoke ended 2015 with a dramatic 4–3 win away at Everton, while they also reached the semi-final of the League Cup after defeating Luton Town, Fulham, Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday en route.
Stoke started 2016 poorly, falling to West Brom and then Liverpool in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final. The club endured a tough final week of January as they lost 3–0 to both Leicester and Manchester United and were knocked out of the League Cup by Liverpool after losing on penalties, and were also ousted from the FA Cup by Crystal Palace. In the January transfer window, Hughes let Steve Sidwell leave as well as cutting short Marco van Ginkel's loan, while he broke the club's transfer record he had set in the summer after signing French midfielder Giannelli Imbula from Porto for a fee of £18.3 million. Stoke's form improved in February and March as they defeated AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Watford and earned a first Premier League draw at Chelsea. Following a season-ending injury to goalkeeper Jack Butland while on international duty, however, Stoke lost their defensive organisation: They let a 2–0 lead slip against Swansea to draw 2–2 and then went and conceded four goals in three successive matches, against Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City. Hughes' team were able to end the season on a positive as they beat West Ham 2–1 on the final day of the season, enough to secure a third-straight ninth-place finish.
Hughes spent £18 million in July 2016 to bring in Welsh midfielder Joe Allen and Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi, while defender Bruno Martins Indi and striker Wilfried Bony both joined on season-long loans on 31 August 2016 from Porto and Manchester City respectively. Departing the club were Joselu, Philipp Wollscheid and long-serving defender Marc Wilson, who left for AFC Bournemouth after criticizing Hughes' defensive training on social media. Stoke began the 2016–17 season in poor form, drawing 1–1 away at Middlesbrough, then losing 4–1 to Manchester City, 1–0 to Everton and 4–0 to Tottenham, and 4–1 to Crystal Palace with chairman Peter Coates heavily criticizing the team's performances. Results improved in October and November and by December Stoke had moved back into a mid-table position. However Stoke picked up just two points over the Christmas period and Hughes came under heavy criticism from supporters after his side blew a 2–0 lead against 10-man Leicester City.
In the January transfer window, Hughes brought in long term transfer target Saido Berahino from West Brom. Performances until the end of the season were underwhelming with six wins from 19, with Stoke securing their Premier League status with two matches remaining. A 1–0 win against Southampton on the final day of the season, meant that Stoke ended the campaign in 13th place, their lowest finish under Hughes.
Stoke made a poor start to the new season, with Hughes' position coming under intense scrutiny by supporters throughout the season, particularly so after a 5–0 thumping by Chelsea, where Hughes rested several first team regulars to prepare for a home match against Newcastle United, however Stoke also lost this game which resulted in calls for him to be sacked. By January, Stoke had won only 5 of 22 games, occupying a place in the relegation zone with 20 points. Stoke's poor run of form included a demoralising 3–0 home defeat to West Ham United, where former player Marko Arnautović scored and celebrated in front of the home fans after having been sold in the summer, as well as several heavy defeats to clubs challenging for the top six positions, including a 7–2 away defeat to Manchester City and a 5–1 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
After a 2–1 defeat in the FA Cup to League Two side Coventry City on 6 January 2018, Hughes was sacked. Stoke had the worst defensive record in the Premier League at the time of his sacking, having conceded a total of 47 goals, nine more than West Ham who had the second-worst record. This was in spite of several defensive signings being made in the summer of 2017, including the £18 million signing of Kevin Wimmer from Tottenham Hotspur, the £7 million permanent signing of Bruno Martins Indi, and the season-long loan of Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma.
On 14 March 2018, Hughes was appointed manager of relegation-threatened Premier League club Southampton, signing a short-term contract for the remainder of the 2017–18 season. His first game was a 2–0 win at Wigan Athletic in an FA Cup quarter final. On 25 May 2018, after a season that saw the Saints retain their Premier League status, the club announced that Hughes had signed a new three-year contract. His assistants, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, also signed long-term contracts with the club.
Throughout his career, Hughes has been known by the nickname "Sparky" which he took from the comic of the same name. Hughes grew up supporting his hometown club, Wrexham. He was awarded an OBE in 2004. Hughes has two sons, Alex and Curtis, and a daughter, Xenna, who plays hockey for Wales. Hughes wrote his autobiography in 1990 entitled Sparky – Barcelona, Bayern and Back.
|Manchester United||1983–84||First Division||11||4||0||0||2||1||4||0||0||0||17||5|
|Manchester United||1988–89||First Division||38||14||7||2||3||0||0||0||3||0||51||16|
|Blackburn Rovers||2000–01||First Division||29||5||5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||34||5|
Scores and results list Wales' goal tally first.
|Mark Hughes – goals for Wales|
|1||2 May 1984||Racecourse Ground, Wrexham||1–0||1–0||1984 British Home Championship|
|2||22 May 1984||Vetch Field, Swansea||1–0||1–1||1984 British Home Championship|
|3||14 November 1984||Ninian Park, Cardiff||2–1||2–1||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|4||30 April 1985||Racecourse Ground, Wrexham||2–0||3–0||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|5||5 June 1985||Brann Stadion, Bergen||2–4||2–4||Friendly|
|6||10 September 1985||Ninian Park, Cardiff||1–0||1–1||1986 World Cup qualifier|
|7||9 September 1987||Ninian Park, Cardiff||1–0||1–0||Euro 1988 qualifier|
|8||1 June 1988||Ta' Qali National Stadium, Valletta||2–2||3–2||Friendly|
|9||17 October 1990||Ninian Park, Cardiff||3–1||3–1||Euro 1992 qualifier|
|10||14 October 1992||Tsirion Stadium, Limassol||1–0||1–0||1994 World Cup qualifier|
|11||17 February 1993||Tolka Park, Dublin||1–0||1–2||Friendly|
|12||28 April 1993||Bazaly, Ostrava||1–0||1–1||Friendly|
|13||2 June 1996||Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle||2–0||5–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
|15||31 August 1996||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||2–0||6–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
- As of match played 1 September 2018
|Wales||3 August 1999||13 October 2004||41||12||15||14||29.3|
|Blackburn Rovers||15 September 2004||4 June 2008||188||82||47||59||43.6|
|Manchester City||4 June 2008||19 December 2009||77||36||16||25||46.8|
|Fulham||29 July 2010||2 June 2011||43||14||16||13||32.6|
|Queens Park Rangers||10 January 2012||23 November 2012||34||8||6||20||23.5|
|Stoke City||30 May 2013||6 January 2018||200||71||48||81||35.5|
|Southampton||14 March 2018||Present||15||5||3||7||33.3|
- Premier League: 1992–93, 1993–94
- FA Cup: 1984–85, 1989–90, 1993–94
- Football League Cup: 1991–92
- FA Charity Shield: 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994
- European Cup Winners' Cup: 1990–91
- European Super Cup: 1991
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