Mark Hughes believes Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic’s heroics against Manchester City can help Stoke City attract more of the world’s top talent to the Britannia Stadium.
The duo were at their headline-grabbing best on Saturday as Stoke made light work of title contenders Manchester City.
Our article straight after the final whistle on Saturday said Stoke now have the style to match their substance thanks to the players Hughes has brought in – and the Potters boss also believes the club is on the rise.
“Top players want to come and play in the Premier League and the top four or five teams can only sign so many,” Hughes told The Sentinel, “so there’s exceptional players out there that you can bring in.
“We offer a lot. We offer stability and, if they play well enough, game time and continuity on a daily basis.”
Hughes reserved praise for Arnautovic after the Manchester City game, with his brace taking him to five for the season for the Potters.
“It’s about getting him into positions and getting him enjoying the feeling of scoring goals,” his manager stated.
“He used to claim he enjoyed creating goals more than scoring them… which was a load of rubbish!
“There’s no better feeling than scoring goals and I think Marko is starting to get that feeling.”
Hughes added: “You have to give him time, engage with him and pull him up when he isn’t quite doing the things he needs to, but he wants to learn and is a big player for us at the moment.”
Hughes changed his system against the Citizens, playing Bojan up front, with Geoff Cameron and Ibrahim Afellay in a midfield three alongside Glenn Whelan. It was a change which paid dividends.
“It was an exceptional win,” Hughes said. “You have to have the right personnel to play like we did and thankfully we did with the right energy in midfield, where the likes of Geoff Cameron and Afellay got around the pitch, and Glenn Whelan will organise behind that.
“Ahead of them we had a creative spark and ability in key areas to create chances because that’s probably been lacking as we haven’t had quite enough devilment.”
Hughes says it’s a line-up he is prepared to use again, when the occasion demands.
“I needed to know for my own peace of mind whether or not it can work for us, or needs to be discarded, but in no uncertain terms they showed it can work for us.”