herald

Saturday 21 April 2018

Hughes defiant as pressure builds

Stoke 0 Newcastle 1

Ayoze Perez netted a 73rd-minute winner. Pic: Getty Images
Ayoze Perez netted a 73rd-minute winner. Pic: Getty Images

Under-pressure Stoke boss Mark Hughes insisted he was not bothered by criticism and defended his selection decisions after his side's 1-0 home loss to Newcastle.

There were boos from Potters fans at the final whistle of the New Year's Day contest - in which Ayoze Perez netted a 73rd-minute winner - and a 'Hughes Out' banner was on display.

Stoke are 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone, having won only two of their last 12 games.

When Hughes was asked in his post-match press conference about the fans' reaction, he said: "It is to be expected.

"I think for the last two or three weeks, the agenda within the media and lots of platforms, and social media... that is what was going to happen.

"It doesn't bother me - what bothers me is that the team needs to be doing better, because then any criticism that comes our way, then that noise goes away." Hughes - under whom Stoke finished ninth three times in a row before coming 13th last term - added: "At the moment we are disappointing too many people, including ourselves.

"But I'll remind people the reason people are disappointed is that at the moment we're below the high standards that have been set here. But those high standards were set by me and my staff. We need to do something about it, and that is what we will endeavour to do.

"It's difficult times at the moment, so we just have to stick our shoulders back and chests out and get on with it.

"It's about making sure you show character and take any criticism or flak that comes your way. You just have to deal with that and not be cowed by it." Ex-Ireland international Stephen Ireland was an unused Stoke sub yesterday.

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