Fulham v Stoke City: Mark Hughes on familiar ground as he returns to Craven Cottage

The Welshman admits he made a mistake leaving the Cottagers in 2011

Mark Hughes believes he has found a club similar in spirit to Fulham as he prepares to return to Craven Cottage with Stoke this weekend.

Hughes resigned as Fulham manager in the summer of 2011 in the hope of furthering his career but now admits he made a mistake.

The Welshman's next employment came at QPR in a dismal and chaotic 10-month spell that culminated in his sacking.

He is now bidding to resurrect his managerial career at the Britannia Stadium and feels comfortable in surroundings that remind him of Fulham.

The 49-year-old said: "In terms of the club and the people they are very similar - top quality people, good people to work for.

"They are clubs that are trying to be in the top half of the Premier League, that is what we are trying to do and Fulham will be trying to do that again.

"They are clubs that have established themselves for a long time in the Premier League now.

"You reap the benefits of that in terms of being able to invest and move forward. That's what Fulham and Stoke have done."

Hughes has made an encouraging start with the Potters and has earned praise for the style his side have played in, contrasting with the direct and physical game typically associated with them.

The past fortnight has brought setbacks however with defeats to Arsenal and, of more concern to Hughes, Norwich.

Hughes said: "We didn't really see that coming. Until that point we had been very good in terms of performance level.

"We didn't hit anything like the levels we had before.

"It was a disappointment but in the Premier League the games come thick and fast and we have an opportunity now to put that right against Fulham."

Hughes has not been back to Craven Cottage since his departure from the club but clearly still has affection for the London outfit.

He expects a tough game there and is surprised Fulham have started the season poorly, having collected just four points from their opening six Barclays Premier League games.

Hughes said: "They had a disappointing result, like we did, last time out but we are under no illusions that it won't be a difficult fixture for us.

"Fulham's home form in the last few seasons has been really strong.

"I don't really know why they haven't been able to knock results out at home.

"Craven Cottage is one of the great football grounds of the Premier League, it's got its own unique atmosphere and that has helped Fulham in the past.

"But at the beginning of the season there are a lot of disruptions and the league hasn't really settled down yet, with international breaks and the transfer window.

"Fulham are one of many teams that will think things will settle for them and they can continue to progress and move forward.

"We have played well in our away games - Arsenal, without getting a result, and at West Ham, where we were excellent.

"So our trips to London have been okay to this point. We hope we get another positive result."

One difference Hughes will notice at Craven Cottage is that the unpopular statue of Michael Jackson has now been removed.

Hughes was manager when then chairman Mohamed Al Fayed had his controversial sculpture of the late singer erected, but new owner Shahid Khan has taken it down.

Hughes said: "That was a personal thing from the previous owner and it was something that was important to him. I think we should always respect that.

"But it was never really embraced by the fans at Fulham and they're probably pleased that it is no longer there."

PA

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