Ever since Mark Hughes took over at Stoke City, there has been a clear-cut direction towards which the club wanted to head. Tony Pulis had long shackled the Potters into becoming a proverbial bunch of street-fighters who would be tough to beat on a cold and windy night at their home ground. And Mark Hughes was determined to change the archaic stereotype and infuse creativity and vibrancy in their game. And with this season expected to be one where all the things would fall into place, it has been tragically anticlimactic. Stoke find themselves in the 20th position with a goal difference of -11 and a solitary point which was accrued by Xherdan Shaqiri on the first day of the season.
With players at his disposal, here are 3 things Mark Hughes can focus on to turn their fortunes around.
PLAY ALLEN AND IMBULA IN A DOUBLE PIVOT
Mark Hughes has experimented with a number of formations this season and has failed to succeed with any of them. Imbula started the season brightly and looked like a real attacking force from the midfield position. The pair of them can complement each other with the Welsh international sitting back in front of the back four and spraying the passes around. The stability in the midfield has been missing and understandably Hughes has tried different formations to find a solution. But he should be backing his instincts to play the best players together in the first team and let them express themselves.
ASK HIS WIDE PLAYERS TO PUT CROSSES INTO THE BOX
Going for an all-out jugular with the passing game is not always the best way forward, especially if the players at your disposal are not up to the desired level. Wilfried Bony has been brought in on loan and for him to realise his full potential, he needs a consistent supply from the attackers. And the situation the Potters are in at the moment, it does not always have to be the undercooked passing game which needs to yield goals and the manager has to instruct the players to put the crosses into the box for Bony to benefit from them, in turn helping the team.
His physical presence will help unsettle the defence line and Stoke have enough quality to capitalise on any mistake which might be forthcoming.
LOOK FOR REINFORCEMENTS AT LEFT-BACK
Stoke are desperately short at left-back and can ill afford to play Bruno Martins Indi there, instead of looking to further the understanding between Shawcross and Indi, both of whom are likely to form the defensive partnership in the long run. They need to recruit in the January transfer window and seek additional cover for Eric Pieters who has flattered to deceive till now. Stoke need to tighten up at the back and look to stem the flow of goals against them.