Stoke V Man Utd at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

18 December 2013 01:51
Stoke V Man Utd - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hughes wary of United threat

Stoke manager Mark Hughes insists the mentality of Manchester United players remains unchanged no matter who is in charge and they will always produce a positive response to criticism.

David Moyes' reign at Old Trafford has got off to a stuttering start with his side eighth in the Barclays Premier League, seven points off the top four after losing five times already.

The suggestion is United no longer have the fear factor they had under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson but former Red Devil Hughes insists the players - which is virtually the same squad which won the championship last season - still have the same determination.

They showed that to some degree with back-to-back wins in the Champions League and Premier League after two successive home defeats to Everton and Newcastle.

"United teams always display the same characteristic traits," he said ahead of Wednesday night's Capital One Cup quarter-final against United.

"There have been questions about the make up of the team and when that happens United invariably respond and that is what happened at the weekend (against Villa).

"The qualities they have shown over the years are still there in abundance.

"You know United players react to criticism and we have to be careful with that. They have a great squad."

While Moyes is under pressure at Old Trafford there is no suggestion that his position is under threat, having only taken over in the summer.

However, this weekend proved how fragile a manager's position can be with West Brom removing Steve Clarke, the man who led them to their highest Premier League finish of eighth last season, and Tottenham sacking Andre Villas-Boas despite the side being just five points outside the top four.

Hughes, sacked himself by QPR last season, believes time is no longer a luxury managers have.

"It sees to be more prevalent in this day and age," he added.

"It seems it is all too easy to change managers and coaches and it is shame because it doesn't just affect managers but coaching staff, families and individuals around that.

"You make a change of personnel at the top but it affects others around them deeply and personally.

"Every Premier League manager works exceptionally hard to make any club a success and it is a real shame that managers lose their job.

"It is no coincidence that clubs who have had success like Manchester United and Arsenal have had the continuity of a manager in place.

"Everyone knows the standards and what is expected and when you have that longevity without a shadow of a doubt it brings success."

Stoke host United looking to build on an impressive display in Manchester at the end of October when they twice took the lead and came very close to producing another upset.

"We did okay at Old Trafford and were 12 minutes away from beating them and on the day we did exceptionally well, especially in the attacking third," said Hughes.

"We didn't quite see the game out but hopefully we will this time. You want to test yourself against the best teams in the Premier League and best teams in Europe and that is what United are.

"The chance for us is to make sure our level is good and we can give them a game.

"We set the standard last time out at home (beating Chelsea 3-2) and if we can reach that United will know they have been in a game."

Like Moyes, Hughes arrived at his new club after a lengthy spell from his predecessor, Tony Pulis, and he is also taking a bit of time to adjust.

"Like a lot of clubs there is this word transition happening and the same thing is happening there," said Moyes.

"They are changing. Mark Hughes is the manager. He is very experienced in Premier League terms. He will put his own mark on Stoke."

Moyes is expected to make changes from the team that won so well at Aston Villa on Sunday, although he will need to check on the fitness of a number of key men before finalising his line up.

"We have a squad of players who can all play in any game," said Moyes. "We have a lot of games coming up and I will see who I think is ready."

Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kawaga both missed the win at Villa, the Mexican due to a head injury suffered in training, whilst Kagawa had not fully recovered from having his stomach pumped 10 days previously.

Chris Smalling has also been out for three games, although it is anticipated skipper Nemanja Vidic will be available after two matches on the sidelines.

Robin van Persie (thigh) and Michael Carrick (Achilles) are definitely out.

Source: PA