English Premiership

Stoke revived under Hughes

2014-05-04 15:13
Mark Hughes (AFP)

Stoke-on-Trent - Stoke City's 4-1 win against Fulham on Saturday helped the Potters equal their best ever points tally in a Premier League campaign, vindicating a change of style under manager Mark Hughes in his first season in charge.

Stoke were tipped to struggle by many when they parted company with long-term manager Tony Pulis last May but having implemented a more pass-orientated attack-minded, and less physical approach under Hughes, have climbed to tenth place.

"The three points we have secured (against Fulham) have taken us to 47 points for the season, which is a tremendous effort from us because it means we have equalled the highest tally ever achieved in the Premier League," the Welshman told the club's official website.

"We still have a game to spare so we have the opportunity now of accumulating more points than we have done in the Premier League before, and should Newcastle not win their game, then we may even end the season in ninth.

"That would be a momentous achievement for us because there was a suggestion from some people before the season started we may even struggle; but in my view that was never a possibility because we have a group of players here who are accomplished at this level."

Goals from Peter Odemwingie, Marko Arnautovic, Oussama Assaidi and Jonathan Walters helped Stoke to their 10th home win of the season and was the perfect advertisement of the changes Hughes has brought about.

Pulis did a stellar job at the Britannia Stadium getting Stoke promoted from the English Championship in 2008 and consolidated their position in the top-flight with a succession of mid-table finishes built upon a strong home record.

However, their supporters eventually became disgruntled with Stoke's tactics and the way they utilised both the long ball and the long throw as their primary attacking weapons.

Upon taking over from Pulis, Hughes talked of his desire to change the teams mindset and adopt a more positive, attacking style of football built around possession and passing.

The implementation of this philosophy was evident against Fulham when, according to Opta, Stoke attempted 602 passes, completing 522 of them, both of which were Premier League records for the Potters.

Assaidi, on-loan at the Britannia from title-chasing Liverpool, was particularly impressive - playing a central role in many of their best attacking moves.

Before the game Hughes talked of the importance of the Moroccan international and his desire to make a more permanent move for the winger in the close season.

"We really like Oussama.

"He has had a very good time here and he has mixed with the lads really well.

"We would like to do something with him in the summer, but we will have to wait and see how it pans out."

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16 August 2014
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