Saturday 24 February 2018

'Jose Mourinho is the best manager they ever had... why would they change' - Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes saw his side put in a disappointing performance at home against Watford
Mark Hughes saw his side put in a disappointing performance at home against Watford

Phil Medlicott

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has backed Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho to hang on to his job and guide the London club through their current problems.

The sense of crisis surrounding the Blues deepened with Saturday's 2-1 Barclays Premier League loss at West Ham, which saw Mourinho sent to the stands and left the defending champions 15th in the table.

Talk has been rife of the Portuguese being not far from the sack ahead of Tuesday's trip to Stoke in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup - another trophy Chelsea won under Mourinho last season.

But Hughes said on Monday at his pre-match press conference: "It's a period he has the knowledge and understanding to address, and he'll turn it around.

"I don't think anyone thinks that he won't.

"I don't anticipate they'll be in the position they are for too much longer.

"Chelsea have quality right throughout the club that will enable them to come through this moment I'm sure.

"He says it himself - he's a top manager and he's the best manager Chelsea have ever had, so why would they change?"

Prior to Saturday's trouble, Mourinho was recently hit with a £50,000 fine and suspended one-match stadium ban for comments he made about referee Robert Madeley, a punishment against which he is appealing.

Asked if he feels Mourinho oversteps the mark when it comes to match officials, Hughes said: "I think sometimes - and we're all guilty of it - maybe if you've had a bad result you'll try to change the focus to something that has happened in or around the game rather than it being on the result itself.

"I think that is what he does - he tries to take the pressure off his players by highlighting a refereeing issue or something else in the game. It has been done by him on occasions as it has by us all."

Stoke, currently one place above Chelsea in the league, had a disappointing Saturday themselves as they saw their three-match top-flight winning run ended by a 2-0 home loss to Watford in what was Hughes' 100th game in charge.

The Welshman is pleased an opportunity to bounce back is coming around so swiftly and has vowed to name a "strong" side for the tie and not make "wholesale" changes.

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross is set to make his maiden first-team appearance of the season having recovered from back surgery.

"Welcoming back Ryan will be a big bonus," Hughes said of the centre-half.

"He is captain of the club and has an influence on and off the field."

Striker Mame Biram Diouf - recently on compassionate leave following the death of his mother - is also poised for a return to action on Tuesday, but forward Bojan Krkic is a doubt having badly blistered his toe.

Marc Muniesa (thigh) is another who may miss out, while fellow defenders Geoff Cameron (thigh) and Erik Pieters (suspended for one game) and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Marco van Ginkel (ineligible) definitely will.

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport