New Season Hopes

Mark Hughes Beard

It doesn’t seem one minute since we were here last season, worrying about how we’d cope with the losses of Asmir Begovic and Steven Nzonzi, heading into a shiny brand new season.

We answered that by doing okay, considering our horrendous injury list.

It did feel like a season of an opportunity missed though, considering how the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United faltered and seeing Leicester win the title. I wasn’t jealous of that at all….

But, it’s a time to look forward, and hope that we can build on three consecutive ninth placed finishes.

Here, season ticket holder Jon Owen outlines five main hopes he harbours for the season ahead.

  • We remain relatively injury free. I dreaded Mark Hughes’ press conferences last season. Not because I’m not a fan of his, I am – but each week seemed to bring a series of fresh injury woes to key players. We’d struggled in the 2014/15 season with injuries – who can forget Bojan’s heartbreaking season ending injury at Rochdale. Last year, though, it got to a point where it was actually depressing. Apart from three games at Christmas, I can’t remember us fielding the same starting XI for consecutive games. Key players were out every week. Surely we can’t have another season where we pick up so many injuries?!
  • Diouf HamburgMark Hughes gives a striker a good run of games. Despite our injury problems, the strike force seemed largely unaffected. But it was one area of the team where we’d be trying something different every week, It was as if the manager was hoping to stumble on a successful formula, but it rarely worked. One week Diouf. One week Crouch. One week Joselu. One week Walters. One week false number nine. I’m all for keeping the opponents guessing, but it affected our rhythm going forward. Pick one and stick to it where possible. Out of all those options I hope it’s Diouf who gets the nod, but Sparky seemed reluctant to pick him last season, even though he’s admitted it’s his best position.
  • Teams begin to fear playing against us at The bet365 again! We are so much better away from home these days, we have the ability to get a result at any ground in the league. It was our home form which let us down last season, though. Despite having a pool of players which you’d suggest were higher in quality, you do get the feeling teams no longer fear playing us on our home turf. It’d be great to become a good home side again.
  • We reach a cup final. I’m not bothered which one, even though the FA Cup carries more prestige. Seeing a Stoke side walk out at Wembley in an FA Cup final was a memory which will stay with me forever. And I want more of those memories. Wigan have won the FA Cup and Leicester the Premier League in recent years. We came so close to achieving that feat last season. That penalty shoot-out defeat at Anfield was heartbreaking, and clearly affected the players. I want to see us make history!
  • We get the best out of Shaqiri. It’s clear ‘Shaq’ has talent in abundance. We’ve seen his stunning goals. Our best assists last season came when he was on the pitch. He had one of the best forward pass success rates in the league. However, it was a stop-start first season for him in the Premier League. I’m hoping the experience of last season does him good though. He knows what is required. He has bags of ability.

Finally, I’d like to wish Mark Hughes and our team all the best for this season! We’ll Be With You!

Go on Stoke!

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