In the top half now, and the Premier League is coming towards the business end. Who is beginning the climb into the top half of the table?
Manager: Mark Hughes
Before last year I was quoted on another website as saying that I thought Mark Hughes must lie on his CV, because he seems to keep getting jobs despite being very good at not improving a team at all. Not that he’s the worse manager around, just that he does nothing. However his Stoke team looked the real deal last year and I really think they could improve on that this year.
Key Player: Ryan Shawcross
For my money he is a highly talented defender and if he had not been the one to break Aaron Ramsey’s leg he would be a lot higher in people’s estimations. He is no nonsense, incredibly solid and very disciplined. If he stays solid and injury free for the season Stoke’s defence will be all the better and it would allow them to move forward with more confidence.
Best feature: Better football
Since Hughes has come in he has adopted a much better philosophy of football, and the signing of former Barcelona man Bojan highlights that. They will look to play decent football and progress themselves as things go on, a far cry from the Pulis era of football.
Worst Feature: Mark Hughes
This will be Mark Hughes’ second season with the Potters, and this is where things have gone wrong previously. I’m not sure it’ll go quite as wrong as it has done previously, but I genuinely think that there is something wrong with Hughes’ mentality. He almost thinks he can keep the same thing all the time, whereas adapting is the key to survival.
PIA Writer’s opinions:
BW: “Steve Sidwell is a good addition but it will take more talent to break into the top 10, although the signing of Bojan could change that. 12th”