It feels like Mark Hughes the manager has been around forever! After managing Wales to within a whisker of qualifying for Euro 2004, his first job in club management came in the 04-05 season at Blackburn where he succeeded Newcastle-bound Graeme Souness.
Soon after Hughes’ appointment, the Reds travelled to Ewood Park and the game will be remembered more for Djibril Cisse suffering a broken leg than the 2-2 scoreline. It was a case of lightning striking twice, with Jamie Carragher having suffered the same fate at the same venue a year earlier.
Games against Hughes’ Blackburn sides were often tight, physical affairs. The return at Anfield finished 0-0, the Reds completed a league double with a pair of 1-0 wins in 05-06, Blackburn took 4 points off us in 06-07, while we did likewise in 07-08, drawing 0-0 at Ewood Park before running out 3-1 winners at Anfield; the Reds goals that day came from that fearsome attacking threesome of Gerrard, Torres and, er, Andriy Voronin!
Hughes succeeded Sven Goran Eriksson at City in the summer of 2008, shortly before the influx of middle eastern cash that propelled them into the position they find themselves in today. According to Wiki, City paid Blackburn world record compensation to secure Hughes’ services, proof indeed that the world had gone mad!
The Reds had enjoyed a promising start to the 2008-09 season when we travelled to the Manchester Commonwealth Games stadium in the October, but we found ourselves 2-0 down at half time. The City fans, rather optimistically, told us they were going to “sign Torres” but we could “keep Dirk Kuyt.” If Torres going on to score twice to level the scores wasn’t punishment enough for such premature gloating, Kuyt’s injury time winner rammed those words well and truly back down Mancunian throats as the Reds completed a remarkable comeback.
The return game came 3 games before the CL trip to Real Madrid and we had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw, one of several damaging Anfield setbacks that season. City also left L4 with a point the following season in a 2-2 draw in November 2009, but with their league position falling well below their newfound lofty expectations, Hughes was sacked shortly afterwards and replaced by Roberto Manchini.
Hughes managed Fulham during the 2010-2011 season, a vacancy that arose as a result of Liverpool’s ludicrous decision to give the manager’s job to Roy Hodgson.
But by the the time the two sides met in the league, Hodgson had already been put out of his misery and replaced by Kenny Dalglish. The Reds ran out 1-0 winners in late January in what was Fernando Torres’ final appearance for Liverpool, while we put on an attacking masterclass at Craven Cottage in May to secure a 5-2 win; Maxi Rodriguez bagged a hat trick and Luis Suarez was unstoppable.
Hughes took over at Loftus Road in January 2012, succeeding Neil Warnock (I won’t use the popular anagram of his name with this being a family friendly site!)
The Reds only faced QPR once during Hughes’ spell in charge, and the less said about it the better. We had led 2-0 in the second half, including the most unlikely of “goal of the season” contenders from Sebastian Coates, before a late capitulation and a Jamie Mackie hat-trick saw Rangers run out 3-2 winners.
Hughes replaced Tony Pulis prior to the 2013-2014 season, and as fate would have it his first game in charge was at Anfield. A Daniel Sturridge goal gave us a 1-0 win, but that only tells half the story as Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty from Wirral-born bluenose pantomime villain Jonathan Walters to secure the points.
The return game epitomised that crazy season as the Reds won 5-3, and in general our record against Hughes’ Stoke is far better it was against Pulis’ Stoke. We’ve won 5 out of 6 in the league and last season edged a tense League Cup semi final on penalties, although Stoke’s second leg win was our last defeat at Anfield.
The one anomaly came on the final day of the 14-15 season as we suffered one of our most embarrassing defeats of this era in Steven Gerrard’s final appearance in a Liverpool shirt.
Stoke have lost all 3 league visits to Anfield under Hughes and with the Reds playing after their rivals yet again in this round of fixtures, a win is essential to keep up the pressure on Chelsea and maintain the gap on the sides below us.
Written by @Pilnick_Jimmy