Stoke boss Mark Hughes has labelled Saturday’s Premier League home clash with West Brom as a “huge game” for his side that could serve as a fresh start for their season.
The Potters, bottom of the table with one point from five games, have had a wretched league campaign so far, with losses in their past four matches seeing them concede four goals on three occasions.
The hoped-for boost ahead of the meeting with Albion, who are managed by Hughes’ predecessor Tony Pulis, did not materialise on Wednesday as Stoke lost 2-1 at home to Hull in the EFL Cup third round, despite being the better side virtually throughout and taking the lead.
Marko Arnautovic’s cracking 24th-minute strike was cancelled out by a fine Ryan Mason volley in the 45th minute, before Markus Henriksen snatched victory for Hull with a close-range finish in stoppage-time.
And after that latest setback, Hughes said: “We have all been in football a long time, both as players and myself as a manager as well, and it is these periods where you just have to ride it out and turn the corner.
“At the moment it seems that whenever the opposition get an opportunity to score, that is what is happening, so we need to change that around. You do that by doing the right things and making an impact on games you are involved in.
“So that is what we’ll try to do at the weekend. It is a big game, a huge game for us, because the longer it goes on without our first league win, then the more significant each game becomes.
“At the weekend we’ll attempt to get our first win on the board. We have the potential and ability – there is no reason why we can’t start our season at the weekend.”
Hughes admitted the feeling in the dressing room after the cup tie had been disappointment mixed with confusion given Stoke had lost a game in which they were “totally dominant”. He might want to try training his players to defend.
The Welshman was also eager to stress there could be encouragement taken from the performance, and singled out teenage winger Ramadan Sobhi for praise.
The 19-year-old Egypt international, signed from Al Ahly over the summer, caught the eye on what was his first start for Stoke.
And Hughes said: “I thought Ramadan Sobhi came in and was excellent.
“He showed a lot of potential and the ability he has, and that will come to the fore in the coming years, so we are pleased for him.”