Monday 16 September 2019

Stoke boss Hughes: No point feeling sorry for ourselves after Bournemouth loss

Mark Hughes' Stoke are in the bottom three
Mark Hughes' Stoke are in the bottom three

Mark Hughes has called on Stoke to "show their mettle" after they dropped into the Premier League relegation zone following a 2-1 home loss to Bournemouth.

A pair of goals in 133 seconds stunned the Potters in the first half as Andrew Surman's 16th-minute opener was quickly followed by Junior Stanislas' penalty, awarded after Ryan Shawcross tripped Benik Afobe in the box.

Although Mame Diouf pulled one back in the second period, Hughes' side slipped into the bottom three and have now lost five of their last six in all competitions.

This result was not as jarring as the previous Saturday's 7-2 drubbing by Manchester City, yet it came against a struggling Cherries side without an away point in their other four top-flight contests.

"We've got to get back on the horse," Hughes said. "We fell off last week and this week, and it's time to show our mettle.

"Second half there were some decent performances within the team, without creating the moments. We've got to go again. There's no point feeling sorry for ourselves.

"Until this week, our start to the Premier League season, which we get criticised for usually - everybody says we start slowly - but I think it was our third best start in the Premier League.

"We've done OK up until this point but this week has damaged that view. We've got to make sure we get back on track at Watford at the weekend.

"It was a big game for us. We wanted to show a response - first half we didn't, second half we did. We go again next weekend - it's an important game for us."

It was a tale of two halves at the bet365 Stadium, with Stoke, playing a back three, initially unable to get close to a Bournemouth side popping passes around in blustery Staffordshire conditions.

A change of shape and style from the hosts, coupled with the introduction of Peter Crouch, turned the tide, but Eddie Howe's visitors weathered the storm well.

For Howe, a manager who rarely indulges in public displays of emotion, the fist pumps to the travelling fans at full-time said it all.

"I thought we showed the two sides to our game," he said.

"The football we played first half was excellent. I thought we were very good and had total control.

"You knew at half-time the game would change with the weather and Crouch coming on so the most pleasing thing is, at 2-1, with a large proportion of the game left, we looked very solid and didn't really give them many clear-cut chances.

"I've never doubted the players' character or desire to play for the club. We've just not quite been ourselves early in the season.

"I think that's knocked confidence levels and of course confidence is such a huge thing in sport and if you don't have it at its highest levels then you're not going to perform as well.

"Hopefully results like this will return us to our very best."

PA Media

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