The Telegraph are reporting that Mark Hughes will drastically shake-up his squad in the summer with the future of up to nine first team players in doubt.
Hughes currently has the unwavering support of the Stoke City hierarchy who are satisfied with the progress made by the Welshman since his arrival in 2013, with the club set to secure a fourth consecutive top-ten finish, but there is also a realisation that the squad needs an overhaul. There is a desire at board level to bring in younger, more dynamic players to replace the increasing number of aging veterans that form the core of the side. This was ruthlessly exposed at White Hart Lane on Sunday where the central midfield pairing of Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adam, with a combined age of 64, where completely ineffective against Tottenham.
A number of high profile figures could be set to depart the Bet365 Stadium during the summer, with club-record signing Giannelli Imbula and diminutive forward Bojan Krkic set to be the first casualties.
Imbula has failed to impress since his arrival one year ago for a record fee of £18,300,000 and has spent the majority of the current campaign warming the substitutes bench whilst Bojan has joined Bundesliga side Mainz on-loan due to a lack of game time in The Potteries. Wilfried Bony, who is currently part-way through a season-long loan from Manchester City, will return to the Etihad Stadium in the summer having scored just twice – he has not featured for Stoke since late December.
A host of fringe players also face an uncertain future. Ibrahim Afellay, Stephen Ireland, Glen Johnson and Shay Given are all out of contract at the end of the season whilst Philipp Wollscheid, Marc Muniesa and Joselu will all be sold. Bruno Martins-Indi, who is currently on loan at the Bet365 Stadium, has yet to commit his long-term future to the club whilst Xherdan Shaqiri has been linked with a move back to the continent.
Hughes will be looking to reduce the average age of his squad whilst adding more quality during the summer and it would appear that there will be significant changes in The Potteries prior to the start of the new campaign.
Stoke City chairman Peter Coates has launched a scathing attack on the first team squad after they suffered a four-goal defeat at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Despite having a 15-day rest period and spending five-days in Dubai at a warm-weather training camp prior to the game The Potters were brushed aside with embarrassing ease by Tottenham. A hat-trick from Harry Kane and Dele Alli’s strike meant that the fixture was all but over as a contest by half time and Coates did not hold back in his comments to the Stoke Sentinel.
“It was a very limp performance, very poor, very disappointing. Tottenham had just had a tough game in midweek but they played with great energy and commitment, while we looked as if we were still on the beach. Nobody turned up. We were poor, one of our worst performances of the season.”
Stoke have now lost 4-0 against Tottenham in their last three meetings with the North London side and the defeat on Sunday was the sixth time that The Potters had conceded four goals in a game this season. Coates insists that there are no excuses for losing in such a manner and that his criticism would be surpassed by Mark Hughed behind closed doors.
“There’s no excuses. They were better than us, but we were so poor. I don’t hide. If we play badly, we play badly. I’m sure the manager has said all this to the players. It will hurt him even more than it hurts me. Nobody will be more disappointed with what happened. He will be livid.”
Mark Hughes revealed that he was frustrated by his side’s poor performance against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and admitted that his players were “a million miles away” from where they needed to be to get a result.
The Potters were brushed aside with ease by Mauricio Pochettino’s dynamic Spurs team as a Harry Kane hat-trick and Dele Alli’s strike effectively ended the game as a contest before half time. Stoke did offer some resistance during the second period, although the home side took their foot off the gas and coasted through the remainder of the game, and Hughes admits that he was hugely frustrated with the result and performance.
“We were a million miles away from where we needed to be. The frustration for me is that I see the guys train day in, day out and the levels are so much higher than what they showed. The key is being able to transfer that from the training pitch onto the pitch on a Saturday or Sunday and for whatever reason we weren’t able to do that.”
Hughes, speaking to the Stoke City official website, admitted that his side were extremely poor defensively.
“When you are playing good teams with real good quality then you have got to get everything spot on, and we didn’t manage to do that. Defensively we were nowhere near good enough. The goals we conceded were incredibly poor, from both an individual perspective and collectively – we simply have to do better”.
Stoke will be looking for an immediate improvement when they host Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Stoke City under-18’s demonstrated that the club could have a bright future after securing a place in the FA Youth Cup semi-final following a 3-1 victory against Preston North End on Monday evening.
Tyrese Campbell netted a brace whilst fellow frontman Jordan Greenidge also got on the score sheet to set up a last-four tie with Manchester City.
A full report is available via the Stoke City official website.
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