Mark Hughes backs Stoke to improve without him

Sarah Winterburn

Former Stoke boss Mark Hughes has backed the Potters to win their Premier League survival bid after he was sacked.

The 54-year-old was dismissed on Saturday after their shock 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Coventry with Stoke also in the relegation zone.

Hughes had been on the brink following the 1-0 New Year’s Day defeat to Newcastle with the club’s board considering his future ahead of the trip to the Sky Blues, which was his 200th game in charge.

In a statement via the League Managers Association Hughes said: “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.”

Former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic, Derby manager Gary Rowett and Republic of Ireland chief Martin O’Neill have all been linked to the role.

Stoke are hopeful of making an appointment before their Premier League trip to Manchester United on Monday.