MARK Hughes has spoken of his determination to “prove people wrong” after being confirmed as Stoke’s new manager, stressing he will use criticism of his spell at QPR as motivation to succeed at the Potters.
The 49-year-old was unveiled by the Staffordshire outfit yesterday as the successor to fellow Welshman Tony Pulis. Hughes, who has agreed a three-year deal at the Britannia Stadium, was sacked by QPR in November with the club bottom of the Barclays Premier League. Asked if he needs to rebuild his reputation, Hughes said: “Yes, possibly.
“I’ve had something like 270 games at Premier League level, and people in recent months possibly have wanted to define my managerial career on the basis of 12 games at the beginning of last season. I understand that, but maybe it gives me more motivation to prove people wrong.
“I have kept my counsel for six months, and haven’t really come out and said my piece of the story. Now is not the time to do that, but I’ve listened to what people have said about my ability as a manager and I can assure everybody I will use that as a motivation to do well for Stoke.”
Under Hughes, QPR survived on the final day of the 2011-12 season, then, after extensive squad renovation over the summer, failed to win any of their opening 12 league fixtures in the following campaign, leading to his dismissal. Asked if he regretted his time at QPR, Hughes said: “No, not at all. I made mistakes which I learned from, but I felt I was given the task of keeping them in the Premier League, which I managed to do. Twelve games later I lost my job.
“That was understandable – we didn’t get the results in that period and it was a difficult time. That is a regret I have, because I think given more time I would have been able to turn it around. But, from my point of view, it’s all about the here and now and moving Stoke forward.”
In his first managerial role Hughes guided Wales to a Euro 2004 qualifying play-off and then earned plaudits for his work as Blackburn boss. Manchester City came calling in 2008 but he was unable to deliver tangible success despite heavy investment on players and was sacked in 2009.
Fulham offered him a route back into football in 2010 and he guided them to eighth in his first season before resigning.
Some Stoke fans have expressed their unhappiness at Hughes’ appointment but chairman Peter Coates has no doubts about his credentials.
“We’ve analysed to death Mark’s career,” Coates said. “We think he has an outstanding record as a football manager. We look at Fulham and Blackburn in particular. We think they are similar in many ways to us, that he will be coming into the same kind of environment here and that he will be just what we are looking for.”
Hughes believes Pulis is a hard act to follow and, while he is looking to bring a more entertaining style of play to Stoke, the new manager has vowed to build on his predecessor’s work.
“The success Tony had enables me to have a better chance,” Hughes said. “He’s put things in place to make the club more stable and created an environment which is conducive to being successful in the Premier League, and I will reap the benefits of that. I’d like to make the team a little bit more offensive, but we’re not going to chuck the baby out with the bathwater. It’s about steady progress.”