MARK HUGHES has revealed that six points from the final two fixtures of the campaign would round off a ‘perfect’ inaugural campaign for him at the Britannia Stadium . . . and in the process ensure his side hit the targets they were set at the start of the campaign.
Speaking at Tuesday evening’s Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation Dinner, the Welshman disclosed the 50-point mark was the landmark he set the players prior to the opening game of the season against Liverpool at Anfield.
The Potters, who currently occupy tenth position in the league table courtesy of the 44 points that have already been accrued, are on course for a historic Premier League top-half finish as well as becoming the highest placed Midlands team for the first ever time.
Hughes acknowledges the season couldn’t have gone much better for the Club, but admits that back-to-back victories over Fulham and West Bromwich Albion in the coming eleven days would cap the campaign off quite spectacularly.
“I haven’t gone on record to disclose the targets we set ourselves at the start of the season, and I’m not sure whether now is a good time to change that, but it is suffice to say that if we win our final two games then we will have reached the marker we set back in August,” he smiled.
“I always like to sit down with the group of players I have at the start of the season and gauge an idea of what levels they think they are capable of reaching, and truth be told, there weren’t too many differences in what we thought they could achieve and what they thought they could achieve.
“That is always encouraging because it shows that they have the bit between their teeth to go out there and improve themselves, and in my opinion that is exactly what they have done throughout this season.
“I’m not one for setting my expectations low, hoping to do well and make myself look better, I prefer to set the benchmark high, get everybody on board with those thoughts and try to achieve something that way.”
He added: “We have had a very good season, but we still have two games to go and we have a very real chance of writing history. We would love to end the season as the best midlands club, and of course finishing in the top-half for the first time would be a wonderful achievement.”
Hughes was present in the Tony Waddington Suite on Tuesday evening alongside his assistant Mark Bowen and first team coach Eddie Niedzwiecki, as part of a meet the manager evening in aid of the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation.
The trio spent over an hour talking about their careers in the game, their time at the Club so far and their hopes for the future, captivating a 350-strong audience.
The evening, which included a pie and peas supper, also included a silent auction and a raffle which played a substantial role in over £10,000 being raised for the incredibly worthwhile cause.