Mark Hughes has vowed to make Stoke City more entertaining to watch.
The Potters have been in the Premier League since 2008, and despite flirting with relegation this season, they have established themselves as a steady top-flight outfit. However, their style of play has often been criticised in recent years, and this was a contributing factor in manager Tony Pulis leaving the Britannia Stadium at the end of the campaign.
Hughes, who was sacked by Queens Park Rangers after just 12 matches this term, has been appointed as his successor after signing a three-year contract on Thursday. And although some supporters are unsure of the credentials of the 49-year-old, he has vowed to win them over by introducing a more entertaining style of play.
“I’m absolutely delighted to get the opportunity,” said Hughes. “The Coates family have given me this opportunity and I’m really grateful. Stoke have been in the Premier League for a number of years now and have the understanding of what it takes to win Premier League games.
“It’s not a case of wiping away the hard work of previous seasons. I’d like to make then a little bit more offensive but we’re not going to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. It’s about steady progress. Sometimes you get labelled with a certain way of playing. I can only take the club forward as I know and my philosophy is to play good football, make chances and make it entertaining for the fans who pay good money to come and see us.”
Chairman Peter Coates believes Hughes’ spell at Loftus Road is a mere ‘blip’ on his CV, after previously impressing in his previous roles. He began his managerial career at Wales, spending five years in charge of the national side and almost taking them to Euro 2004 qualification before losing a playoff clash against Russia. A four-year stint at Blackburn Rovers followed, where he led them to a top-six finish and Uefa Cup football before leaving for Manchester City.
Hughes was given large amounts of money to spend on his squad following the takeover from the Abu Dhabi United investment group, and he used some of this cash to sign the likes of Vincent Kompany, Carlos Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta, who would play key roles in their FA Cup success of 2011 and Premier League title win of 2012 – albeit under the leadership of Italian coach Roberto Mancini, who was appointed when Hughes was sacked in December 2009.
A one-season spell at Fulham was next on the list, and he led them to an eighth place finish in the top-flight before controversially deciding to quit at the end of the campaign, citing a lack of ambition by the London club as the reason. His next job was at QPR in January 2012, and he kept the Hoops up against the odds before losing his job after a poor start to the 2012-13 campaign.