LONDON • Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has emerged as one of the favourites to become the new Stoke manager.
The club are looking to replace Mark Hughes before they travel to Old Trafford for a Premier League clash next Monday, setting up the possibility of an intriguing permanent managerial debut for Giggs.
Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill, Derby boss Gary Rowett and former West Ham manager Slaven Bilic are also among the bookmakers' favourites.
Hughes was sacked just hours after his struggling side's shock FA Cup third-round 2-1 defeat by minnows Coventry on Saturday. And with just over three weeks left in the January transfer window to strengthen the squad, the swift appointment of a successor is key.
The 54-year-old was already on the brink of being dismissed prior to the loss at fourth-tier Coventry following a miserable run that has left the team languishing in the relegation zone.
The limp nature of Stoke's FA Cup exit proved the final straw as Hughes was axed three hours after the final whistle at the Ricoh Arena.
"Stoke City can confirm that the contract of manager Mark Hughes has been terminated with immediate effect," a statement on the club's Twitter account read.
"We would like to thank Mark for all he has achieved for the club over the last four-and-a-half years, notably in guiding us to three successive ninth-placed finishes in the Premier League, and we wish him every success for the future."
Hughes' 200th game in charge of Stoke proved to be his last after Jack Grimmer's second-half strike gave Coventry the biggest upset of the third round so far. Charlie Adam equalised with a 54th-minute penalty after Jordan Willis opened the scoring for Coventry.
Speaking immediately after the match, Hughes, whose Stoke contract was set to run until next year, was hopeful he would be given more time to lift Stoke out of the bottom three.
"The fact we've gone out, even if it's a little bit raw at the moment, might help us," said the man who replaced Tony Pulis at Stoke in 2013.
"At the moment, we don't want to discuss league games but maybe when we wake up on Monday, the reality clearly has to be our league form."
The Potters have conceded the most goals of any side in the league this season with 47, and have won only one of their last seven league games.