Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Hughes love never wavered

Mark Hughes loves being back in the Premier League

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is relishing life back in the Barclays Premier League and admits his love of the game never wavered during his spell on the sidelines.

Hughes took over from Tony Pulis at the start of the summer, handing him his first job since his difficult spell in front of the QPR dugout, which ended when he was dismissed a year ago with the club adrift at the foot of the table.

It has not been the easiest start to the season at the Britannia Stadium, and the Potters have not won in eight league games.

But the thrilling nature of their 3-3 draw at Swansea encapsulated what Hughes had been missing since leaving Loftus Road.

He said: "I enjoyed the drama. It was a great game for the neutral and there was a lot of emotion shown on both sides. That's what you want to see in games.

"As you are right in the thick of things, there are a number of situations you feel as a team and as a side we need to deal better with, but overall you never lose that love of football and what it entails and the emotions it can engender."

The former Wales, Fulham and Blackburn manager has sought to tweak the Potters' style of play after they were criticised in some quarters for their direct approach under Pulis.

Against Swansea a combination of the two approaches proved highly effective during the first half.

A long ball forward from Ryan Shawcross saw Peter Crouch flick-on for Jon Walters to put the Potters ahead but, while that may have been viewed as a typical Stoke goal, the second involved a lovely exchange of passes for Stephen Ireland to score.

But they were guilty of trying to protect the lead after the break, and trailed 3-2 before Charlie Adam's controversial late penalty salvaged a point.

"We know this season there are going to be ups and downs and there will be times when we are elated and times when we are disappointed," he said.

"We probably had all those in the game at Swansea so at the end of the day we will look back on the game and think it was a good point to take given the circumstances.

"But we can make it a lot easier than we did in terms of getting Premier League points if we do correct things and just stop momentum when you see it's building. We have to be better in that respect."

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