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Hughes confident goals will come


Mark Hughes admits he is still trying to find the right balance at Stoke

Mark Hughes admits he is still trying to find the right balance at Stoke

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mark Hughes admits he is still trying to find the right balance at Stoke

Mark Hughes has admitted he is still searching for the right striking blend to get Stoke firing.

The Potteries outfit head to Manchester United desperate to improve the worst scoring record in the Premier League.

City have managed just four goals in their eight league matches so far and drawn four blanks in their last five games.

None of their recognised strikers have found the net, with defenders Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron amongst the players who have.

It is a puzzle Hughes has tried to solve in a variety of ways.

But the answer is proving elusive.

"I have looked at a number of combinations," said Hughes.

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"Peter Crouch has had a run of games, so too Kenwyne Jones and Marko Arnautovic has played up top as well.

"It is a question of settling on one combination we feel works for us and will carry us through the vast majority of the season.

"At the moment we have not quite found it."

Hughes insists he does have faith in his attacking stars.

It is true that neither Crouch nor Jones have ever been prolific, whilst Arnautovic is taking time to find his feet following his summer arrival from Werder Bremen.

Yet Hughes is confident once they get on a roll the present problems will be forgotten.

"It is a confidence thing," he said.

"That goes hand in hand with your strikers when they are not scoring.

"Sometimes you need a bit of luck, something to fly off your ear.

"Once you get one you are off and running.

"The key to it is that you continue to work and do the right things in training.

"At some point things will change for you and the team. Once they get off and running they will be fine."

There could be no better place to break the cycle than Old Trafford, where Stoke have such an abysmal record.

They have lost on their last 10 visits and not recorded a win there since Alan Bloor scored the only goal in April 1976.

The incentive could not be greater, although for Hughes it promises to be a strange day.

For, after hundreds of visits to the stadium, as both player and manager, it will be the first time since he left for Barcelona in 1986 that he will not see Sir Alex Ferguson staring down from the home dug-out.

"I am sure it will feel a little bit strange not to see him walking down the touchline waving to the crowd like he has always done," said Hughes.

"He is still in the background. I was at the Real Sociedad game on Wednesday night and I had a few words with him.

"He was always going to leave his post at some point and I think he is comfortable with the decision he has made.

"He has left them as reigning champions so they're not in bad shape."

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