STOKE CITY Chairman Peter Coates has lauded the arrival of Mark Hughes as the Club’s new manager . . . and predicted a bright future at the Britannia Stadium under the Welshman’s stewardship.
The 49-year-old put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal on Thursday morning, having been identified by Mr Coates, his son John and Chief Executive Tony Scholes as the number one candidate to take over the reins from Welsh compatriot Tony Pulis.
The confirmation of Hughes’ appointment came just nine days after Pulis’ departure from the Club was announced following the decision to bring an end to his seven-year tenure in charge.
Mr Coates acknowledges that the deal for Pulis’ predecessor Hughes was processed quickly, describing the initial talks held between the Board and Hughes as ‘telling and incredibly positive’.
“We looked very carefully at this because we know how big a decision it was for the Football Club to get the right man in,” he told Stoke City Player.
“It’s been very much the centre of our thoughts and the centre of our attention over the past eight or nine days, and in the end we identified Mark as the man that we wanted to speak to.
“We approached him, we met up with him and the outcome of that meeting was extremely positive because we liked what we saw and we liked what we heard. After that, it started to get contractual.”
He added: “Mark has a very impressive CV, and anybody who doesn’t agree with that really isn’t looking at the facts.
“We have studied his record in great detail and we really feel that he is the right man to lead this Club moving forward.”
Whilst Mr Coates was quick to hail the work that Hughes has carried out at the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Fulham, he did confirm that he, along with John Coates and Tony Scholes took stock of the Welshman’s most recent managerial post at Queens Park Rangers before offering him the deal.
“We have analysed everything he has done; starting with Wales and Blackburn Rovers, his time at Manchester City, Fulham and, most recently, Queens Park Rangers,” he added.
“We looked at his time at Fulham and Blackburn very closely because we feel that they are very similar Clubs to ourselves in lots of respects.
“What he achieved there really is fantastic, and we feel that he can achieve similar success here at Stoke City.
“Obviously, with Queens Park Rangers, he acknowledges that there was a blip, but when you look at the bigger picture, the Club had new owners and people who haven’t been in football for very long.
“They have had three managers in Neil Warnock, Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp who no one could deny are steady, strong managers. They have all found it difficult; and that isn’t a coincidence.”
Without revealing too much information regarding budgets for the newly-appointed manager, Mr Coates did confirm that there would be a pot of money available to him to strengthen the playing squad, and is hoping to see Hughes make use of the revamped scouting network now in place at the Club.
“It’s hugely important for us to improve, and become highly professional in our recruitment policy,” he said.
“We have our own Technical Director in Mark Cartwright, and what we have been working towards is putting in place a very good scouting system.
“This, we hope, will enable Mark to get the very best information and to make the very best judgments and decisions as to whom comes into the Club; because he will be the one deciding who comes and who goes.”