Home » EPL, Latest » Stoke have appointed Mark Hughes as their new manager

Mark Hughes has agreed to become Stoke’s new manager – and immediately set about a huge rebuilding job.

Hughes has agreed a deal to take over at the Britannia Stadium and we understand the Welshman was the only man approached by the Potters about replacing fellow Welshman Tony Pulis.

The club had a short-list including other candidates, but Hughes was championed by chairman Peter Coates and, ultimately, they did not feel they needed to speak to anyone else.

Coates admired the jobs that Hughes did while in charge at Blackburn and Fulham.

The Welshman got results in the Premier League on strict budgets at both those clubs – and will have to do so again at Stoke.

Former QPR and Manchester City boss Hughes will have money to spend, but will also oversee a wholesale clear-out.

The 49-year-old will look to ship out Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam, former England striker Peter Crouch could also be sold and two other big earners, Kenwyne Jones and Wilson Palacios, are likely to be on their way out, too.

Dean Whitehead, Jermaine Pennant and Michael Owen – who announced his retirement at the end of the season – are all now free agents, which will save the club in excess of £100,000-a-week in wages.

Midfielder Steven Nzonzi, meanwhile, wants to leave but had a transfer request turned down earlier this month.

Pulis brought in high-earners and paid big fees for players whose age meant they had little or no resale value, and that was a crucial factor in Coates’ decision to make a managerial change.

Stoke will now look to sign younger players with potential, to ensure that they have a resale value and also remain hungry.

Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince, 21, was pursued in January, they have already bought England Under-21 keeper Jack Butland and Tottenham’s promising midfielder Jake Livermore, 23, is another potential target.

Hughes will also be expected to work alongside the academy staff, as the club have ploughed money into developing young players with – so far – little return.

And the new manager, who will bring in trusted lieutenants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki, will also need to co-operate with Stoke’s technical director, Mark Cartwright.

Hughes’ impending arrival has divided opinion among fans, with the chairman of the supporters’ club, Bryan Shaw, warning it would be unpopular.

Shaw said: “From all the people available, he would not have been my first choice, although he has a reasonable record, apart from at QPR.

“Not a lot of supporters wanted Tony Pulis back when he was brought back for a second spell in charge.

“That wasn’t a popular decision because of his style of football. Probably half of the fan base was against him at first, but he won the majority over. There is a feeling Hughes is similar.

“If you ask the majority of Stoke supporters, Mark Hughes would not be their first choice. That said, whoever the chairman appoints we have to get behind. We just have to hope he proves us wrong.”

Chief executive Tony Scholes wants the club to become self-sufficient, so Hughes, who had a patchy transfer record at QPR and also spent big at Man City, will have a different philosophy from those clubs.

Stoke believe he can do it though, based on the bargain buys he pulled off at Blackburn.

The likes of Ryan Nelsen, Chris Samba and Roque Santa Cruz did great jobs at Ewood Park.

It will be that kind of job at Stoke, who are also acutely aware of discontent among their fans about the style of play and dwindling attendances, particularly away from home, where their record was so poor last season and they rarely showed much ambition or entertainment.

The mantra at the Britannia has been “a different direction” and that is what brought about the end of Pulis, but also signals a new beginning in terms of manager, tactics and promoting young, home-grown talent.

Ironically, fellow Welshmen Hughes and Pulis have had a series of touchline spats and press conference rows.

Hughes’ first battle may be over Stoke’s star keeper Asmir Begovic, who is a target for Arsenal, both the Manchester clubs and Liverpool.

With Butland available after spending the second half of the season on loan at Birmingham, the Potters may decide to cash in on Begovic, in a move which would be representative of the complete change in philosophy at the club.

Source: Daily Mirror

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