Tough start could knock the stuffing out of Stokeby Mike Holden / 15 August 2017, 09:09Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) takes a look at what we can expect from Mark Hughes and Stoke during the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Stoke finished 13th last season, recovering from a dreadful start with five wins from seven matches after the October international break. Beyond that, it was a season to forget for Mark Hughes. There were few memorable highlights as the Potters exited both cup competitions early on and they failed to claim a single top-six scalp, a rarity for both manager and club. Mainstays Phil Bardsley, Glenn Whelan, Jon Walters and Marko Arnautovic have moved on. Hughes has been largely been left frustrated in his pursuit of fresh-faced replacements.
Hughes is an idealist who puts most of his energy into creating an environment that enables players to thrive. His managerial style revolves around a single notion that he will serve his players and cater for their every whim throughout the week, so long as they produce the goods for him on a Saturday. Some would call it pampering, he calls it eliminating excuses. So long as players have nothing to complain about, they’ve got no reason to deliver anything less than their best on the pitch.
"Some windows can frustrate you, and this one has been a bit of a slow burner to be perfectly honest. But we are really positive. I think there’s some misplaced negativity around and expectations are maybe lower than in previous years. That probably makes my job easier because I tend to set hopes and expectations really high. We regard ourselves as a top ten club. Some people say that the top six or seven is already a given, but we will be looking to change that."
The Potters look weaker for their summer transfer business as it stands and fans must hope that Hughes can pull a few rabbits out of the hat before the window shuts. The fixture list does them no favours with Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea the first three visitors to the Bet365 Stadium, increasing the likelihood that Stoke will be winless after six matches for the third season running. If Hughes can get through to October relatively unscathed, he should have enough experience to keep them up.