Mark Hughes wants managerial return, but where? Welshman linked with Cardiff City, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 22 January 2021, 10:12

"I've had enough rest now - I'm ready to go," Mark Hughes revealed on BBC Radio 5 Live this week. 

"Those opportunities will keep on coming, you'd like to think, given the CV that I've got. You just have to wait for the right one."

It’s been over two years since Hughes was sacked by Southampton, a couple of days after a 2-2 draw against a Man Utd side manager by Jose Mourinho, who also lost his job shortly after.

Hughes, a former Saints striker, had come in and saved the club from the dreaded drop the previous season, but a disappointing start to the 2018/19 campaign saw his bosses wield the axe.

While Saints fans will be grateful for the Welshman’s original rescue act, the statistics didn’t paint Hughes’ eight month spell in a particularly positive light; he won only three of his 22 games and left the club 18th in the table.

In came Ralph Hasenhuttl, and the rest is history, as they say.

Meanwhile Hughes, who has accumulated over 600 matches during a managerial career which began 22 years ago, has yet to resurface from the Job Centre

We’ve since seen David Moyes return to West Ham, Steve Bruce get the Newcastle job, Sam Allardyce made his early anticipated comeback at West Brom, while Alan Pardew had a brief stint in Holland before venturing down a new career path as Technical Director of Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia.

The Wales job aside, Hughes has always managed in the Premier League, at six different clubs - second only to Big Sam’s tally of eight.

In his first top-flight post he twice led Blackburn into Europe, with his 6th-place finish remaining the club’s joint-highest since they won the Premier League back in 1994/95. 

Hughes then switched jobs to Man City - he replaced Sven-Göran Eriksson - infamously signed Robinho and took the club to a UEFA Cup quarter-final. Only for his tenure to be brought to an end 18-months later as City brought in future title-winning boss Roberto Mancini.

He had a creditable single season at Fulham, whom he steered to 8th, and secured a Europa League spot through the Premier League's fairplay standings.

This was followed by a disappointing 10-month stint at QPR who only survived relegation on the final day of the 2010/11 season, while they were rock-bottom when he was axed in November of the following campaign, having failed to gel the team together after a summer upheaval; the R’s were subsequently relegated.

Hughes was chosen as Tony Pulis’ successor at Stoke, where he altered the playing style and oversaw three impressive 9th-place finishes, then 13th, only for results to desert him in his fifth season and he was sacked in early 2018 in the aftermath of a shocking FA Cup third-round exit at the hands of League Two Coventry City - like QPR, Stoke would also go on and suffer relegation.

A couple of months later he was back in work at the aforementioned Saints, which remains his last post to date.

Now Hughes, 57, has signalled his intent to accumulate an eight job on his CV, where could we see him next?

"The timing has to be right for you, it has to be right for the club that wants to make the change,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“If you're available and it makes sense to both parties, then that's when you begin to talk."

Hughes has the confidence to believe that a return to the Premier League could be possible, however there are no jobs currently up for grabs and if any do arise it will be at a club fighting for survival - unless Chelsea come calling for their former player...

He’s perhaps a surprisingly short price at 4/1 to replace Steve Bruce at Newcastle, a move that would unlikely appease any fans, given that they crave a new direction. The same could be said about Crystal Palace (25/1) whose current boss Roy Hodgson is expected to leave in the summer when his contract expires.

Hughes may have to widen his scope and dip into the Championship, a new job has just cropped up at Cardiff City for which he’s currently a 7/1 shot behind early favourite Mick McCarthy.

Fellow second-tier side Sheffield Wednesday are still looking for a third manager of the season, Hughes is priced at 33/1 to replace Pulis once again.

Further afield, there’s a job up for grabs at Fleetwood Town (25/1), who have hopes of making a push for the League One play-offs, while in League Two Port Vale are looking for a successor to John Askey.

It would come as a huge surprise if Neil Lennon was still present in the Celtic dugout next summer, with Hughes out at 40/1 to venture north of the border with the Hoops.

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