Mark Hughes has taken Stoke to the next level, says Garth Crooks

Stoke Britannia Stadium

The Potters have just completed the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri and Crooks says that definitely improves their squad.

Speaking to Tottenham’s official website, Garth Crooks says Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has taken the club to the next level.

Hughes replaced Tony Pulis at the Britannia two season ago and set about changing their style of play, with them having employed long ball tactics under Pulis and been heavily criticised for it.

The former Manchester City boss has been successful in that task though; with two consecutive top ten finishes having come with better football, while he has also added a series of more technical footballers to the side as well.

The latest of those is Xherdan Shaqiri, who was secured in a deal from Inter Milan earlier this week, and Crooks says they have added more quality to the side.

"Mark Hughes has taken the club just where the Chairman Peter Coates wanted it to go. Gently to the next level,” he told tottenhamhotspur.com.

“I don’t think that Stoke will ever play the type of football synonymous with the club in the 70’s lead by that football genius Alan Hudson but the new arrivals have certainly added more quality to the team.”

Top six achievable but Shaqiri and Bojan are key

Given the squad Hughes has assembled at the Britannia, they certainly have the ability to finish in the top six this season.

That is likely to be the target for the manager as well given their success over the last two seasons, while the domestic cup competitions could also be a realistic target for the side.

For them, any potential success is likely to rest firmly on the shoulders of star duo Shaqiri and Bojan. The former Bayern man has instantly become the key player in the side, while the former Barca youngster was their key man last season before his injury.

Whether both can perform remains to be seen, but things are certainly on the up in the Potteries.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch