Peter Crouch has hailed the impact Mark Hughes has had at Stoke City, and offered his opinion that the current squad is the best the club have ever had.
Hughes was appointed Stoke manager in May 2013 following the departure of Tony Pulis, who had established the club in the Premier League since taking them there during his seven-year stint in charge. The new man immediately led the Potters to a ninth-place finish in his debut season, their highest placing since 1975, and they could improve further this time around.
The Britannia Stadium club are currently tenth in the table with eight games to play, but they are just a point behind eighth-placed Swansea City. And Crouch believes Hughes deserves huge credit for the way City have improved since his arrival, which has also seen the likes of Bojan Krkic, Mame Biram Diouf, Erik Pieters, and Marko Arnautovic raise the quality of the first team squad.
“We try and improve every year, and since he’s walked through the door, we’ve improved – we’re playing some good stuff,” former England international Crouch told Sky Sports. “He’s brought some good quality into the squad – I think it’s maybe the best squad Stoke have ever had, certainly in the Premier League years, so it’s looking bright and hopefully we can continue with that.”
Stoke may well need to wait another at least another weekend to continue their climb up the league table, as they face a daunting trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday evening. But for Hughes, this will present an opportunity for him to record a win at Stamford Bridge – an old stomping ground during his playing days – for the first time in his managerial career.
“We want to go put in another good performance,” said Hughes, who recently signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2019. “I don’t think Chelsea have been playing as well as they were at the start of the season, but they are still picking up results. I’ve not won there as manager but enjoy going back to Stamford Bridge. It was a good place for me and I’ve many good memories.”