Mark Hughes dis­cov­ers a leader in Joe Allen

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International -

BY JA­NINE SELF / Ac­cord­ing to Mark Hughes the stars were in per­fect align­ment when £13mil­lion (Sh1.60bn) ‘bar­gain’ Joe Allen agreed to make the switch from Liver­pool to Stoke in the sum­mer. Stel­lar in­ter­fer­ence or not, the Welsh galac­tico’s per­for­mances have been on a dif­fer­ent planet de­spite his team’s strug­gling start to the sea­son.

Mid­fielder Allen, scorer of both goals in a com­fort­able win over Sun­der­land, has added clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing and lead­er­ship qual­i­ties to his trade­mark pass­ing game. “There was a lot of think­ing be­hind get­ting him here,’ ad­mit­ted Hughes. ‘He is an ex­cep­tional player at this level but I didn’t re­alise we had a goalscor­ing mid­fielder.

“He’s a leader as well. He’s taken on the man­tle. We have not de­manded it. Play­ers look at him to get on the ball, then the team fol­low you and you be­come an im­por­tant part of it. Allen, tagged the Wales Pirlo when he was at Swansea, has al­ready matched his sea­son’s best Pre­mier League goals tally. His first-half dou­ble took him to four for the cam­paign and fi­nally gave Stoke their first vic­tory.

More en­cour­ag­ingly, Allen’s con­tri­bu­tion to the team ap­pears to be rub­bing off on the other big names like Marko Ar­nau­tovic, Wil­fried Bony and Xher­dan Shaqiri al­though, sig­nif­i­cantly, record sign­ing Gianni Im­bula can­not even make the fi­nal 18.

Sun­der­land re­main rooted to the bot­tom of the ta­ble and, quite frankly, look like stay­ing there.

/REUTERS

Stoke City’s Joe Allen cel­e­brates scor­ing their first goal.

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