The Telegraph have revealed that Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is not in danger of losing his job, despite increasing pressure from a section of the club’s support, and is planning a summer overhaul of his playing squad with a number of senior players facing an uncertain future.
Hughes has guided The Potters to three consecutive top-half finishes in the Premier League since replacing Tony Pulis in the summer of 2013, a feat that the North Staffordshire club last achieved over eighty years ago.
However, the Welshman has been heavily criticised by an increasing number of supporters, who believe that the team has regressed during the last eighteen months, with money also being wasted in the transfer market. There have been some calls for the manager to be replaced at the end of what has been a disappointing campaign that will most likely see Stoke finish in the bottom half of the table.
But the Telegraph indicate that Hughes’ position is not under threat and that the club’s hierarchy will support him during the summer with a substantial shake-up of the first team squad planned.
Jonathan Walters is rumoured to be among a number of senior players who face an uncertain future and the 33-year-old, who is the club’s all-time leading goal scorer in the Premier League, could be set to depart the Bet365 Stadium, with Newcastle United and Burnley both showing an interest. Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan are two other figures that are likely to be shown the exit door at the end of the season.
Hughes has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks but has been promised that he will have funds to spend in the summer by the Stoke board. The Welshman will target a central defender, left back and central midfielder as he looks to revamp his squad.
The Daily Mail are reporting that Stoke City are the early front runners in the race to sign former Chelsea and England captain John Terry in the summer.
The 36-year-old central defender has made in excess of 800 appearances at club and international level since making his first team debut in 1998, lifting the Premier League four times and having also won the Champions League and Europa League.
However, Terry’s first team involvement at Chelsea has been limited following the arrival of Antonio Conte and he has been told that he is surplus to requirements and will not be offered a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the campaign.
The Daily Mail are suggesting that Terry has told friends that he still feels that he is physically good enough to continue playing in the English top flight for another three years and beyond.
His experience, playing record and availability will make the central defender one of the most in demand free agents over the summer and Stoke City are believed to have emerged as one of the clubs showing a genuine interest in securing his signature.
Marko Arnautovic has revealed that he turned down the opportunity to sign for Everton in the summer and chose to sign a new contract with Stoke City because Mark Hughes had “rescued” him from Germany.
The 28-year-old Austrian winger has become a favourite amongst the supporters at the Bet365 Stadium since signing from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen in the summer of 2013.
However, his performances have attracted the interest of a number of European clubs over the last three years and Arnautovic, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, explained how he turned down interest from Everton so that he could pledge his long-term future to Stoke City:
“Ronald Koeman tried to persuade me to move to Everton. Romelu Lukaku also phoned me to ask if I would join them, and I found that a great honour. But nonetheless I rang Mark Hughes and told him: ‘Get the paperwork ready – I’ll extend my stay at Stoke’”.
The charismatic Austrian proceeded to agree a new lucrative contract with The Potters worth around £80,000 per week, making him the club’s highest earner. Disclosing the thinking behind the decision Arnautovic revealed:
“[Stoke] had put a lot of faith in me and rescued me from Germany. Werder Bremen was a bad place for me and I had to leave them. Stoke took me on and my career took off with them. I thought to myself – it’s a place where everything suits me, so why not stay put?”
Finally, Stoke City youngster Oliver Shenton believes that he will be returning to the Bet365 Stadium in the summer a “better player” having enjoyed a successful four month loan-spell with Wrexham.
The 19-year-old midfielder is highly rated in North Staffordshire having recently signed a new long-term contract that will see him remain with The Potters until 2020.
However, in January, Shenton joined Wrexham on loan for the remainder of the season as he went in search of regular game time and the youngster believes that his experience with The Dragons has helped him to develop and improve.
Speaking to the Daily Post, Shenton explained: “I’ve really enjoyed it here at Wrexham … it has been good for me. It has been a challenge to work me up to men’s football … I feel like I have learnt a lot from the experienced pros here. I think I have learnt a lot. I am going to go back to Stoke a better player.”
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Lana2021 (Lana2021)