Is Sparky and the Britannia a match made in Heaven?
Mark Hughes steps into the breach... Another Welshman as boss, with former United favourite Hughes acknowledging he needs to rebuild his managerial reputation after struggling at QPR.
Has Sparky had much success in the transfer market? In a word, yes. Marc Muniesa, a decent defensive prospect, and Nando Quesada have arrived at the Britannia from Hughes' former club Barcelona, while PSV Eindhoven defender Erik Pieters cost £3 million.
Will there be plenty of changes from last season? Ex-red Michael Owen has retired, and Jack Butland's arrival could prompt Asmir Begovic's exit. There'll be no more Rory Delap long throws either. Stoke will remain awkward opponents but United would happily accept wins by two-goal margins again like last term.
When do we meet? First off, 26 October at Old Trafford and, provisionally, 1 February at the Britannia Stadium.
Who's their main man? There's a feeling that Hughes might be able to get the best out of Charlie Adam and enable him to reproduce his Blackpool (rather than Liverpool) form.
Any interesting facts and figures? Stoke are Sparky's eighth Premier League club since leaving OT in 1995: Chelsea, Southampton, Everton, Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham, QPR, Stoke.
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