Following his seven very distinctive years in charge, the departure of Tony Pulis from Stoke City this summer has left the Potters with a serious question to answer.
Did they persevere with the Welshman’s often rudimentary, but undoubtedly effective and successful approach, or did they go down a new road and instead seek to be more pleasing on the eye?
By appointing another Welsh manager in Mark Hughes it may be so far unclear which path they’ve gone down, but a look at the new man in charge’s two signings so far indicate that a change of style could be on the way.
In signing Marc Muniesa on a free transfer from Barcelona and the Dutch international left-back Erik Pieters for £3.5m from PSV Eindhoven, Hughes appears to have indicated a willingness to build from the back with defenders who are far more comfortable on the ball than the likes of Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth and Andy Wilkinson.
And if reports are to be believed, Hughes is now looking to add flair further forward.
The 49-year-old boss is thought to be targeting his former QPR charge Adel Taarabt on a season-long loan deal, although the Londoners would prefer a straight cash transfer.
The enigmatic attacking midfielder is certainly a talent but he does have his wild side, prompting Rs boss Harry Redknapp to send him home from his club’s pre-season training camp in Devon earlier this month.
A Moroccan international, Taarabt would certainly change things at Stoke, who are 13/2 to beat Liverpool at Anfield in the opening match of the 2013/14 season.
The Potters – who at 2/7 are a much shorter price to finish in the bottom 10 than the 11/4 on offer for a top 10 slot – would have to change their approach dramatically were they to pull off the signing, but if Hughes were to do it then it could prove to be something of a coup.
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