Sport Soccer

Thursday 17 October 2019

Stoke boss Lambert doesn’t think new Saints manager Hughes has a point to prove

Hughes was sacked by the Potters in January.

Lambert does not think his predecessor Mark Hughes has a point to prove to his old club
Lambert does not think his predecessor Mark Hughes has a point to prove to his old club

By Andy Hampson, Press Association Sport

Stoke boss Paul Lambert does not believe the appointment of his predecessor Mark Hughes as Southampton manager will add extra spice to the relegation battle.

Hughes was sacked by the Potters in January and Lambert was subsequently handed the responsibility of pulling the club away from danger at the bottom end of the Premier League.

Fellow strugglers Saints have now turned to Hughes after parting company with Mauricio Pellegrino earlier this week.

Southampton are 17th in the table, just a point ahead of 19th-placed Stoke in a tight battle, but Lambert does not think Hughes will try to make a point to his old club.

Lambert said: “If you look at things like that it’s probably wrong. I think he will concentrate on his own fixtures. Southampton have got hard fixtures like everyone else.

“I am sure he will concentrate on Southampton’s form. I will do the same here, concentrate on our games, and hopefully we can start to win.”

Hughes led Stoke to three successive ninth-placed finishes from 2014-16 – their highest placings since 1975 – but he paid a price for a poor first half to the current season.

Lambert acknowledges that, but insists there is no personal rivalry as the pair will focus on their respective tasks.

“I know Mark,” Lambert said. “He did a fabulous job here before me. He was here nearly five years and did a great job.

“I know the problems Southampton are in, but it is never easy to see another manager lose his job.

“But I have got my own work cut out and he will have his own at Southampton. Yes, it is a big job he’s got.”

Pellegrino lost his job after a run of just one win in 17 league games.

Lambert said: “I don’t know behind the scenes what happened there, but you can’t blame a manager every time. It’s impossible.

“You can’t blame the manager every time for things going wrong. Southampton players will be asking what went wrong this season.”

Despite this latest attempted shake-up of the picture in the bottom half – which sees the clubs from Everton in ninth down to Stoke covered by just 10 points – Lambert is concerning himself only with the Potters.

He said: “I know what’s above me, I know the points. I know everything that is going on but I concentrate on my own team.

“I have always been like that. I have never tended to look at other people’s results. I’ve always thought ‘look after yourself first and foremost’.”

Stoke, who host Everton on Saturday, were beaten 2-0 by Pep Guardiola’s runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City on Monday but Lambert saw positives in defeat.

“If we keep the same fighting spirit we have got – as Pep said – we’ll be all right,” said Lambert. “The main objective is stay in the league and then rebuild for next season.”

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