Mark Hughes has assured fans Stoke City will try to win every game this season – and he is confident the positive approach will pay off.
Stoke failed to secure a win in the opening six games of the Premier League season but secured back-to-back victories against Bournemouth and then at Aston Villa to go into the international break five points clear of the relegation zone.
However, having finished ninth in successive seasons, the Potters have much loftier ambitions than merely avoiding the drop, and Hughes believes the performance at Villa Park was a clear sign that things are starting to click for his side.
“If you look at the Villa game last weekend I thought it was a good 90-minute performance,” Hughes told The Sentinel.
“I have talked before about not being able to keep levels up for a full game, but we got that. The first 45 minutes in terms of control was probably the best we have played.
“I think the supporters enjoyed it and hopefully there is more to come – that’s our intention.
“We are going into all games away from home trying to be positive and trying to win them. If you do that then you get more points on the board.”
Stoke do not play their next game until Monday, October 19, but Hughes acknowledges the 16-day break would have been much harder to deal with had they gone into it on the back of a defeat at Villa Park.
“You’ve heard me talk about frustration with the frequency of international breaks and I’m not the only one,” he added.
“It was really important to get those wins. We’re in a big break now and it was important we came into it in a calm mood.
“We’ve got a longer wait than most because we’ve got the Swansea game on a Monday night.
“If we’d come into it with a defeat it would have been a hard period, but we’re in good shape.”
Stoke’s international successes
Marko Arnautovic scored a fine individual goal in Austria’s 3-2 win over Montenegro in their Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday night, 24 hours after Jon Walters had played a starring role in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 win over Germany.
Xherdan Shaqiri sat out Switzerland’s 7-0 win over San Marino with a minor calf injury, while Jack Butland stayed on the bench for England against Estonia but will start against Lithuania, manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed.