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Mark Hughes is no fool, does not rule out Chelsea job

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Former Chelsea (and Manchester United and Barcelona and Bayern Munich!) striker Mark "Sparky" Hughes, who won three cups back in the mid-to-late '90s with the Blues has been just one of the many names linked recently to the Chelsea job.  Once Hiddink's done, the real scramble is expected to begin to fill Mourinho's shoes on a (more) permanent basis -- unless we line up somebody before then, though I certainly wouldn't hold my breath for that to get done so early.

In any case, Sparky was asked about the latest speculation during his pre-match press conference for Stoke City's FA Cup 4th round match away to Crystal Palace on Saturday.  Unsurprisingly, he neither confirmed nor denied anything outright.

"There is always speculation. (If it's because I am performing well) I don't think I was doing particularly well last weekend (when Stoke lost 3-0 at Leicester), I did better in the week. It's the ups and downs of being a manager I suppose."

"There's speculation about certain roles in Premier League at the moment and at some point if you have a decent spell you'll get mentioned in dispatches. It's no more or less than that. I think they're trying to cover all their bases and this week I got a mention. It is what it is."

"It's just speculation. It's nice to be mentioned I suppose because it reflects well maybe on me but more so on the team and the players - and that's how it should be. We're having a decent season.

"We're fully focused here. We are enjoy what we're doing. It's a good time to be at Stoke. Everyone feels like we're going in the right direction."

After his failures at Manchester City, Fulham, and QPR, Hughes has largely rebuilt his reputation at Stoke, converting them from PulisBall to something actually fun and attractive and safe for mass consumption.

Is that enough to make him a realistic candidate for the Chelsea job?  Not for me, and, it sounds like, not for him at the moment either.