After a 13th place finish in the Premier League it was a shock to one and all when Stoke decided to part company with Tony Pulis. The 55 year old had performed miracles with the Potters and despite being often criticised for the brand of football his side played, supporters were sad to see him leave.
Now they have another Welshman at the helm and it will be no easy task for Mark Hughes to take the club forward. In fact he may well decide that a successful first campaign would be keeping the side well clear of the relegation zone. With chairman Peter Coates admitting the purse strings will be tightened it will be no easy task for the former QPR boss.
Business so far
Stoke have been one of the busier sides this summer as they announced that seven players had been released, as well as six members of the back room staff. Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant and long-serving Rory Delap were two of the more high profile names to depart. Defender Matthew Upson, midfielder Dean Whitehead, third-choice goalkeeper Carlo Nash, plus veteran Mamady Sidibe and fringe player Matthew Lund have all departed.
Dave Kemp, Mark O'Connor, Paul Maxwell, Adrian Pennock, Dave Kevan and Gerry Francis have also all left their roles at the club. Coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwieck have arrived to form part of the back room staff under Huges, while Jack Butland will be competing with Asmir Begovic for the number one jersey after being signed in January.
What they need
Hughes will undoubtedly want to get rid of the stigma surrounding this current Stoke side, but that will take time. With seven players departing there will be plenty of room for new signings but it is unlikely that Hughes will have the same money that Pulis enjoyed during his stint in the Premier League.
In Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, Stoke are strong in defence, especially with Begovic behind them. It is perhaps up front that they are lacking with Jonathan Walters their top scorer last season with just eight. Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome and Peter Crouch chipped in but they could do with a forward who will guarantee double figures.
Who could join
PSV-Eindhoven's much talked about left-back Erik Pieters has been linked with a move to the Britannia Stadium for a cut-price £3m. The Dutch international is highly-regarded in Holland and would be an impressive signing.
With chairman Coates saying just last week - "Ours is the third-highest net spend in the Premier League...It's not really where we can afford to be" - it is unlikely Stoke will have much money to spend. Therefore a bid for Junior Hoilett has been mentioned after the winger was relegated for the second successive season with QPR.
Who could leave
With Crouch and Jones both two of the higher paid players at Stoke it is unlikely that they would turn down offers if they arrived. What will be more important is keeping hold of Bosnian goalkeeper Begovic who has been linked with some of the top clubs in the Premier League. He has always stated that he is happy but should offers from Arsenal or Liverpool arrive then it could be hard to resist.
What the manager said
"It's not a case of wiping away all the hard work that's been put in place in previous seasons. That would be crazy," said Hughes. "But I would like to think I can make them a bit more offensive and maybe that's where the club hasn't helped itself in the past by not scoring enough goals."