Stoke City unveiled Mark Hughes as the club’s new manager today and the 49 year old arrived at the Britannia Stadium on the defensive.
The 49 year old said he was angry after being labeled a poor manager following his horrid spell as boss at Queens Park Rangers last fall where he was promptly sacked 12 games into the season.
The former Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea player defended his managerial reputation while at the unveiling, saying:
I’ve had something like 200-odd games at Premier League level and people in recent months have wanted to define my managerial career on the basis of 12 games at the start of last season.
Maybe that gives me extra motivation to prove people wrong. I’ve kept my counsel up until now and listened to what people have said about my ability as a manager. I can assure people I will use that motivation to do well here at Stoke City.
I’m absolutely delighted to get this opportunity. I’m pleased they [Stoke] have done their due diligence and looked maybe beyond my last position and taken my managerial career as a whole.
So, is Hughes the man Stoke supporters wanted as manager?
Not really. The Potters’ decision to hire Hughes in place of Tony Pulis has been met with skepticism with some supporters feeling akin to Chelsea supporters when Rafa Beintez was named interim manager last winter. The basis of the fury is that Hughes is a bit of a managerial journeyman, having served at Blackburn (4 years), Manchester City (18 months), Fulham (12 months) and QPR (9 months) with limited tenure and success.
Bryan Shaw, chairman of Stoke City’s Supporters Club, expressed his worry that Hughes won’t be universally popular among fans. “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.”
One season ticket holder, known solely as “Carl”, took to the streets with a “Hughes Out!” sign posted on the back of his yellow pickup. Beyond that and a similarly situated Facebook page, however, there has thus far been little Benitez-esque backlash.
Other supporters are simply delighted by the fact that Pulis is gone. After eight years at the helm, Pulis’ negative, rough and tumble brand of football grew weary on fans. Supporters also grew tired of the club bringing in new players in only to see them die a slow death on the bench.
With Hughes, however, fans have the chance to see the Potters play an attacking brand of football and to do so by fully utilizing the talent the club has acquired. Such a mentality bodes well for Americans Brek Shea and Maurice Edu, who have struggled to fit in at the club.
Shea struggled to see the pitch under Pulis, making only two substitute appearances since his transfer to the club last January. Granted, the 23 year old was recovering from injury when he moved to England but in the last few months of the season, his health wasn’t an issue. Pulis simply didn’t have a role for the winger, informing him to look forward to next fall.
Edu joined the club last summer and has endured similar struggles, eventually leading to his loan deal to Bursaspur last January. In Turkey, the American performed well, making 11 appearances for the Super Lig club.
Both Shea and Edu failed to crack Pulis’ lineup because they lacked the blood and guts kind of football that Pulis demanded from his players. While neither American is by any means soft, both rely more on skill the physical fury. Under Hughes, both should at least be handed the chance to prove themselves and with any luck, will be included with Geoff Cameron in the Potters top 18.