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Hughes braced for backlash

Published 08/08/2015

Mark Hughes has guided Stoke to back-to-back ninth-placed finishes
Mark Hughes has guided Stoke to back-to-back ninth-placed finishes

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is braced for a Liverpool backlash at the Britannia Stadium as Brendan Rodgers' men make an immediate return to the venue of one of their most embarrassing defeats.

Rodgers' side return to the Potteries this Sunday just three months on from their 6-1 capitulation on the final day of the 2014-15 season, a loss which rounded off a dismal run-in for the five-time European Cup winners.

New Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson recently revealed he is still haunted by the memories of the club's heaviest reverse in 52 years, but they will get a chance to exact a measure of revenge in their first contest of the new campaign.

Hughes acknowledges lightning is unlikely to strike twice when they host Rodgers' new-look outfit again and believes the thrashing they administered will serve as motivation.

"I don't think there's too many of us that feel what happened in that game will be repeated," the Welshman said.

"We'd like to think it would be but Liverpool will have a lot to say about it.

"At the beginning of the season expectations are always high for everybody and no less so from a club the stature of Liverpool.

"They'll be wanting to address that, it was certainly a blot on their copybook.

"I've heard their players talk about how they want to make sure that it doesn't happen again. The reverse of that is obviously we'll have something to say about that as well.

"We're hoping for a positive start to what we hope is going to be a very successful season."

The jaw-dropping manner of Liverpool's loss, coupled with Steven Gerrard's departure, meant Stoke's feat of finishing ninth with a best ever Premier League points tally was pushed down the list of events to emerge that afternoon.

Hughes has presided over two ninth-placed finishes since arriving at the helm and now wants to take the next step by bringing European football back to the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters played in the Europa League under Tony Pulis four seasons ago after reaching the FA Cup final and Hughes does not believe achieving qualification for a continental competition is beyond his current players.

He added: " We look to improve year on year, we've been able to do that and we want that to continue.

"If we are able to continue in the same vein then that would bring Europe into view. We're not frightened by that prospect.

"This club had a great experience the last time we were in Europe. We'd like to replicate that if we can.

"I'm of the view that if we keep progressing - and with the talent and ability we've been able to add to the group - I think we can go close."

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