The Tony Pulis era has ended at Stoke City and the new manager Mark Hughes is planning to change their footballing identity by making some shrewd acquisitions this summer.
The major task for Hughes will be to change Stoke’s anti-football image.
Pulis had assembled such a physical squad that ‘a cold, wet night at the Britannia Stadium’ became the cliché for a nightmare away match.
Even though Pulis’ methodologies didn’t go down well with the football purists, he kept the team alive in Premier League. Stoke achieved Premier League stability, even though he relied on set-pieces to get them out of trouble.
It might not have been beautiful football, but it was effective for a bottom-half team.
Hughes will find it hard to change the club’s playing style from day one. He needs to analyse the squad to get rid of those physical players which are useless on the ball. A tougher task will be to attract players with guile, flair and silky feet to change the image of the side.
Stoke City is linked with free agent David Bentley, who at one stage was considered as the next big thing before entering the football wilderness. Stoke fans will be hoping that he will recapture the old form to lead them to a glorious future.
Another player linked with revamping stoke system is PSV Eindhoven’s Erik Pieters. The former Euro U21 winner is a regular in the Netherlands' national team and is considered as one of the best left-backs in the country.
He was earlier linked with a move to Newcastle United, before an injury ended any hopes of a deal being completed.
Even though he had an injury affected last season, hopes are high on the left-back. Stoke City and Hughes are pinning their hopes on Pieters to fill the major void at left-back.
Stoke currently have only Mark Wilson to play in that role - and it isn’t even his favoured position. By bringing in Pieters, Stoke will be able to solve their problem, while it will also help them to shift towards more attractive playing style.
Can they lure Pieters to change their footballing identity?
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