Tuesday 14 August 2018

Mark Hughes suggests some managers at wrong end of table may be 'untouchable'

Mark Hughes' Stoke have lost five of their last six games
Mark Hughes' Stoke have lost five of their last six games

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has suggested some of his fellow managers at clubs currently towards the bottom end of the Premier League are "untouchable".

Hughes' men are 17th, a point above the relegation zone, having lost five of their last six games.

And it was reported this week he would face the sack if they lose Saturday's home clash with 19th-placed West Brom, one of four clubs in the bottom seven to have made a managerial change this season.

Stoke sit between two other clubs who have not - Rafael Benitez's 18th-placed Newcastle, beaten in eight of their last nine matches, and Eddie Howe's 16th-placed Bournemouth, winless in six league outings.

When Hughes was asked on Friday about the spotlight being on him while Benitez and Howe were also struggling for results, the Welshman said: "At the moment it seems to be my turn.

"There's a lot of clubs down there that you'd argue aren't having the season they would've anticipated before it began.

"For whatever reason, a lot of those clubs have changed managers. This club hasn't, correctly in my view.

"So maybe I'm just the next in line. Everybody else has gone and I'm the one that is last man standing! So it's my turn, so I have to accept that.

"There are others as well, probably in similar situations - but maybe they're untouchable."

Hughes stressed he feels there is no better candidate for managing Stoke than him, saying: "Not in my view. Not in my view."

He also hit back at the talk of him facing the axe if his team loses Saturday's game.

"I don't think that is where we are at," he said.

"The media will set timelines and time tables on it, but that's not what is happening within the corridors here in my view.

"I think a lot of the comments come from people who haven't even bothered to actually watch any of our games - they are just picking up on hearsay and things they've heard, and elaborate and embellish things in terms of their understanding of what is going on."

He added: "I think a lot of people just pick up the paper and say 'oh, right, they're having a bad time, they're not great at the moment, the manager is rubbish and the players are c**p'.

"The reality is we need to do better, but we're not doing as bad as maybe people are making out."

Chants of ''Hughes out'' were heard from Stoke fans at last weekend's 3-0 loss to West Ham and, while chairman Peter Coates has appeared supportive of the manager with recent comments, he was quoted by The Sentinel this week as saying Saturday's game is "one we need to win".

Hughes - whose side have conceded 39 league goals this term, the highest in the Premier League - spoke on Friday about Stoke needing "a fair run at it in terms of injuries and refereeing decisions".

And he said: "I know this group better than anybody. I've been here four-and-a-half seasons.

"And the owners and everybody connected with the club are fully informed. They're not in some far off land just watching on TV. They're in and around the club every single day.

"They're close to the coal face and would sense if something needed to change. It doesn't. We have good people here with the ability to win games in the Premier League, which I have proven for 12, 13 years.

"They allow good people to get on with their jobs. That is what they're doing at the moment."

Press Association

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