Stoke City appoint Mark Hughes: Tony Pulis legacy brings danger as well as safety

The former QPR and Manchester City manager succeeds his fellow Welshman at the Britannia

What might be the final top-flight test of Mark Hughes’ managerial career could also be the hardest. Having been dismissed from two jobs and walked out of one other in the last four years, a failure at Stoke City could see the end of him at Premier League level, possibly forcing him out, to look for work in foreign or international management instead.

But Hughes, just as competitive and ambitious a coach as he was a player, has taken on a task without comparison in recent years. There are not many clubs like Stoke and not many managers like Tony Pulis, who in a seven-year second tenure at the Britannia Stadium dragged the club into the Premier League and kept them there, with a brand of football that made no compromises to anyone else’s notions of how the game ought to be played.

That uniqueness was its weakness as well as its strength. Pulis leaves behind a very deep impression and Hughes will have to fight and fight, destroy as well as create, to impose himself.

The problem is that, with the exception of Blackburn Rovers, Hughes has often struggled to build a team with identity. At Blackburn his side played fast, assertive, physical football – leading them to finishes of sixth and seventh. With the addition of some wingers and midfielders, that must be his model at Stoke.

But at Manchester City he struggled to create a team to convince the owners that he was the man for the job. He stabilised the mess he inherited in 2008 but when the money came in he could never quite balance the team in a fairly reckless 4-2-4 system, and the results were not good enough.

At Queen’s Park Rangers, again, he made too many changes for his own good, and his messy set of individuals nearly went down in 2012 and did, under Harry Redknapp, last season. Up the road at Fulham the opposite was true, as he merely stuck with Roy Hodgson’s blueprint for a year before walking out, a move he now regrets.

While big-money mistakes have been made at City and Rangers, as he appeared almost enchanted by the CVs of some players only joining for money, he clearly has an eye for talent. His recruitment of Roque Santa Cruz and Christopher Samba at Blackburn, Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany at pre-takeover City and Mousa Dembélé at Fulham are all testament to that.

This summer he will have money to spend and there is an obvious need for players who can run with the ball, pass it or even do both.

But the culture at Stoke is deeply ingrained and the man who has struggled to contain the chaos in the past now has a very different job to do. If City and Rangers were too much in flux, Stoke risks the opposite problem after years of stolid stability. There is a basis here, but Hughes will have to fight desperately hard to meld it into something else – something exciting – without destroying the safe foundations.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
Life and Style
tech
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'