Tony Gillan: Mark Hughes' sacking at Stoke City just like Steve Bruce's dismissal at Sunderland

Stoke City's dismissal of Mark Hughes was one of football's less surprising announcements.

Stoke are in the bottom three, have recently performed poorly against direct relegation rivals, were embarrassed at Chelsea and have now been knocked out of the FA Cup by a team two leagues below.

Four of their next five games are against bottom half opposition; but as things stood it was difficult to see them winning any of them.

None of this prevented some hand wringing from “experts” of the how-little-they-know variety.

But the thing about records is that they are drawn entirely from the past.

Sunderland have faced similar piety in the past, not least when they sacked Steve Bruce. This column defended Bruce for as long as possible. He took the club from 16th, to 13th to 10th in successive Premier seasons.

Good work. This wasn’t a fluke. However, things began to slide away from him and a tipping point was reached when his team faced a perfectly awful Wigan Athletic at home – and lost. Much the same has happened to Hughes.

When the next victory is unforeseeable and relegation seems increasingly certain under a particular manager, what is the board supposed to do? It seems remarkably simple – to you and me.