Stoke boss Hughes working to his own agenda

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.
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GUS Poyet’s pre-match description of former team-mate Mark Hughes as a gentleman, might be something the Uruguayan is reassessing after the Stoke City manager’s contrary comments over Wes Brown’s dismissal.

While everyone in football was lining up to condemn referee Kevin Friend’s dreadful and game-changing decision to send off the defender, Hughes, perversely, was alone in suggesting the red card might have merit.

“I’m sure Gus looked very aggrieved about it,” he sniffed. “But my interpretation was that maybe Wes was a little bit out of control and reckless.

“I thought it was a poor challenge – Charlie Adam was caught on the leg at about shin level by it - whether or not it deserved a sending off is the big debate of the game which is a shame because it took the shine off a very good performance from us.

“I don’t know what was going on in the technical areas afterwards, I think it all kicked off, but my concern was to see Charlie was alright because I thought he had been caught.”

Not only were the surprising comments unhelpful to his former team-mate’s cause but they seemed somewhat disingenuous from a man whose love of the physical side of the game as a player was well-known.

It became apparent though that Hughes had his own agenda and did not want his 100th win as Premier League manager to be all about the injustice perpetrated against Sunderland in the first-half or the 10-men Black Cats’ fine effort in the second.

The Welshman has been a man under some pressure at the Britannia after a run of no Premier League win in eight games going into Saturday’s match.

And it was clear that he wanted the story to be about how well Stoke City had played and how this might be a sign the Potters are turning the corner – neither of which looked to be the case on the evidence of the weekend’s game.

“The sending off has become the big talking point which is a shame because I think it takes away from what was a good performance from us,” he claimed.

“Even before the sending off we were 1-0 up and I felt we were in control of the game and had enough to take the game away from them.

“Sunderland might have looked good in the second-half but they were down to 10 men and had nothing to lose and could just go for it, so credit to them for making a real game of it.

“But had they still had the full complement of players in the second half, would that have been the case? I doubt it.

“In our view we played well and scored two good goals.

“We are pleased with them - two great finishes from Steven Nzonzi and Charlie Adam - and pleased with the way we played.

“It was a good win.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re top, middle or bottom, you want to take points off the teams around you and that’s what we’ve managed to do against Sunderland.”