Stoke City boss Mark Hughes remains grateful for what he inherited from Tony Pulis but feels as though the squad now has his firm mark on it.
When the Welshman succeeded his compatriot in the summer of 2013, the Potters were widely associated with long-ball tactics but they have since received plaudits – particularly of late – for their free-flowing style.
Hughes’ tenure has so far seen the club achieve successive ninth-place finishes and they are now only two points off the Barclays Premier League top five.
Stoke head into Saturday’s trip to Pulis’ West Brom in fine form, having won three of their last five league games, and Hughes is thankful for the foundations laid by his forerunner.
“Certainly (what I inherited) initially was a big factor and I was very grateful for that,” the City boss said.
“Not only was it strong on the pitch but it was strong in the dressing room as well. Undoubtedly I have benefited from that.
“(But) if you look at the make-up of the side now there aren’t too many guys who are in the team who were regulars when I first walked in the door.
“A lot of players have come and gone. Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan, of course, have made a big impact for me and I would like to think they would feel they have improved as well as a consequence of what we’ve done and the way we work with them.
“It was always going to take time. I’ve been here two and a half years now and there is always a turnaround of players. The squad is made up more of players I’ve brought in than when I first arrived, which was always going to happen if I hung around a bit.
“We’re in a good place and all the elements that we needed to be successful if given the time to be successful were in place initially.”
Stoke’s Player of the Season
Asked who his player of the season was so far, Hughes said: “I think we are all encouraged by how Ryan (Shawcross), who missed the start of the season (through injury), has come back really strongly, which is credit to him.
“I think we have had a great start from Jack Butland as the number one here, so we are pleased with how he has progressed. And everybody, really!”
Hughes also stressed that he does not think Stoke fans will be too focused on the fact Saturday’s match pits the Potters against a former manager.
“I don’t think it’s about that,” he said. “They would love us to win another Premier League game, I’m convinced of that.
“It is a good run of form we are on and we want that to continue.”