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May 30, 2013

Hughes aims to put Stoke on attack

Mark Hughes is determined to shed Stoke City of their 'rugby team' tag and bring an attractive new dimension to life at the Britannia Stadium after agreeing to accept the challenge of replacing Tony Pulis as manager.

• Blog: Sparking Stoke's fortunes
• Hughes: I'll learn from QPR

Hughes has vowed to build on Pulis' seven years of work in establishing the club in the Premier League and will do all he can to help change public perceptions of the Potteries club by placing his own attacking stamp on the squad he has inherited.

The 49-year-old Welshman was the unanimous choice of the three-man panel of chairman Peter Coates, his son John and chief executive Tony Scholes to fill the vacancy created by Pulis' departure nine days ago.

He has been handed a three-year contract and believes the excellent groundwork done by Pulis over the last five seasons in the top flight will provide him with the perfect base to add his own dash of flair after six months out of the managerial spotlight, following his sacking by Queens Park Rangers in November 2012.

Stoke finished as one of the lowest scorers in the Premier League last season and the fans that had backed Pulis' style so fiercely even started to turn against their own manager, prompting the decision for Coates to change direction and look to take the club to the next level.

Hughes has sympathy with the way Pulis' side were labelled a long-ball side with no flair and expects to bring a more attractive and attacking style when he returns to Premier League management in August.

"I will look to make them more a little bit offensive," he said at his first press conference as Stoke boss on Thursday. "The teams I have been involved in the past have always scored goals. That is an area may be in the past the team has not been able to help itself by the amount of goals it has been able to score."

"I will look to address that I am not going to chuck the baby out with the bathwater, it is about steady progress at the correct speed and if we can do that we can move forward.

"Sometimes you get labelled with a certain way of playing. My team at Blackburn was labelled wrongly and I felt really strongly about that and I can understand where Tony has come from in the past in regard to how people viewed his Stoke team.

"I can only take the club forward how I know and my philosophy is always to play football, good football, create chances and make it entertaining for the fans who pay good money to come and see us. That is what I will try to do. That is what I have always tried to do."

Hughes will be joined by his trusted backroom team of Mark Bowen and Eddie Neidzwiecki following a clear-out of Pulis' entire management team, and he believes he will be able to feed off the passion of the home fans and build on the foundations laid by his predecessor. Despite a fractious relationship with Pulis when they crossed paths as managers, Hughes is grateful to his fellow Welshman's hard work and said: "The success Tony has had enables me to have a better chance, because I am following someone who has put in place things that enable the club to be stable.

"There is a great environment that is conducive to being successful in the Premier League and I will reap the benefits of that. My intention is to take the team and the club forward and be successful. That is my motivation.

"Stoke has a strong squad that has an understanding of the Premier League. It has been in the Premier League for a number of years and that is important because they understand what it takes to win games.

"I don't have to wipe away all the hard work that has been put in place. That would be crazy to do that. I am just delighted to get the opportunity from the Coates family. I am really grateful. I am pleased they have done their due diligence and they have looked beyond my last position.

"They have taken my career as a manager as a whole and I get the opportunity to work with good people. At Fulham and Blackburn I felt I did very good jobs and there are similarities with those clubs and the solidity of the ownership and the management of the club. That reassures me because you need that behind you to be successful on the field.

"There is also a passion in the area, this is a local club, very close to its community and I understand that. Whenever I have been to Stoke as an opposition manager their passion and desire for their team has been evident to me. I can't wait to get started and put a team out on the pitch to be proud of."

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