Stoke boss wants Barclays Asia Trophy tournament to get players in EPL mood
Stoke boss to use Barclays Asia Trophy to help the Potters start new term with a bang
Stoke City equalled their best-ever showing in the Premiership era by finishing ninth last season.
Particularly impressive was the way they ended the campaign, which included a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur and a 6-1 thumping of Liverpool in their final two home matches.
And Stoke manager Mark Hughes said that he wants his side to start the next campaign the way they ended it.
It's also why the former Manchester United and Wales striker wants his charges to develop an early winning habit, starting from next month's pre-season tournament, the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore.
The Potters are taking part in the quadrangular competition alongside Premiership rivals Everton and Arsenal, and a Singapore selection side at the National Stadium.
Said Hughes, 51: "It's important that you start to see things take place that you started even a year before.
"The majority of our squad will be the same as before. Last season, we had the benefit of finishing the season strongly, and I think that helped us.
"So, a lot of the work that we've done this year, you want to see that showing itself very early on in the preparation because that just shows you it's embedded into the players that you're working with.
"And then you look to add other elements that you can build to make an even more accomplished team."
He is also looking forward to seeing his players bond during the trip.
Hughes has made three major additions to their squad, after signing former Spain Under-21 international striker Joselu from German club Hannover 96, goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard from Danish outfit FC Midtjylland, and exercising their right to buy defender Philipp Wollscheid from another German club Bayer Leverkusen, following a successful loan deal.
Hughes, whose team will host Liverpool in their opening game on Aug 8, said: "Usually, there is a number of new faces and it may well be ourselves who are active in the market, as everybody are, so it may well be that there are new faces on show in Stoke City shirts, Everton shirts and Arsenal shirts.
"That will be good for the fans in Singapore.
"When that happens and you're trying to integrate new players into your squad, a trip away is always good to really bond the group together.
"Certainly, it's good for new players and new faces and the group to be around one another 24 hours a day that helps the integration."
Hughes believes that the format of the tournament in Singapore will help them prepare for the gruelling season ahead.
The fact that there won't be excessive travelling involved is a big plus, he added.
He said: "This competition is worth it. You can always be worried if there are too many internal flights, as I've had when I've been on pre-season tournaments where you've been flying and there are two-hour flights to one venue and two hours back.
"Then the next day you're flying on to another venue in another direction, it can be a little draining.
"It's hard enough for players during pre-season, they're getting a lot of work put into them.
"Ideally, you want to be at a tournament that's in one base, and then you can work around that.
"The dates of the Barclays Asia Trophy are very good for us. We would have been back for 10 days before we fly out and we are going to fly out a little bit earlier than the other clubs, because we feel that will work for us.
"Then with the quality of the games that we have, there's a real feeling that will help us and kick us on for the new season."
Stoke will take on Everton on July 15, before meeting either Arsenal or the Singapore selection side three days later.
Barclays Asia Trophy
Arsenal, Everton, Stoke City and a Singapore selection side
July 15 (Wed) and July 18 (Sat). Both at 6pm.
Ticket prices for July 15 range from $25 (Cat 4, child) to $145 (Cat 1). Prices for the event’s final day on July 18 range from $28 to $155.
Tickets can be bought at www.sportshubtix.sg, the box office at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and all SingPost outlets.
Reds lead the way in spreading EPL gospel
Liverpool will cover most miles of any Premier League club in pre-season preparation, closely followed by Manchester City, according to British media reports yesterday.
England's biggest clubs have again flown around the globe to exploit commercial possibilities in markets like Asia, Australasia and North America.
Liverpool will play in Thailand, Australia, Malaysia and Finland between July 14 and Aug. 1. That means flying more than 24,000 miles (38,000km), according to the Sun on Sunday newspaper, which estimates Manchester City's two matches in Melbourne will take them more than 21,000 miles.
Champions Chelsea and Manchester United have again chosen the United States for their pre-season tour. The Blues will fly home in time for the Aug 2 Community Shield date with Arsenal.
The biennial Barclays Asia Trophy, starting on July 15, takes place in Singapore for the first time and features Arsenal, Everton and Stoke City, plus a Singapore selection side. - Reuters.