MADDENED Mark Hughes looked as though he was battling to keep the lid on a volcanic temper in his post-match Press conference at the Stadium of Light.
The Stoke City boss was infuriated by the decision to send of Steven N’Zonzi early in the second-half – blaming West Yorkshire referee Bobby Madeley for effectively costing his side the game.
And although Hughes took consolation from the fact that his 10-man team could easily have won the game as the Black Cats threatened to implode, you could see how keenly he felt the injustice.
“We feel we deserve more than we got,” the Welshman muttered after the 1-0 defeat to Sunderland.
“It was a performance of real character, desire and determination and no little skill and we didn’t get what we should have from that display.
“Unfortunately, not for the first time this season, we have been hurt by refereeing decisions which have had a marked effect on the outcome of the game.
“You are talking once again about a situation where we’ve had a poor decision from the referee.
“It was difficult for him – Jozy Altidore was looking for an advantage from a challenge of minimal contact – but the referee has got to see through it and understand what is happening.
“Instead, he’s given a red card to Steven for very minimal contact, which is unbelievable from my point of view.”
Those of us who were there at the Britannia when Sunderland played better with 10 men then Stoke did with 11 earlier in the season, after Wes Brown was wrongfully sent off in the first half, could not help but smile at Hughes’s claim.
But the Potters’ manager – clearly an irony-free zone – pressed on.
“Apart from 10-15 minutes in the first half, during which Sunderland got the goal, I thought we dominated the game,” he said.
“Sunderland came out of the traps well and it took us time to get to grips with that, but I thought we dominated with 11 men in the game, and even with 10.
“Sadly, there have been too many occasions where poor decisions have not allowed us to make football matches.
“Unfortunately, the best team did not win tonight.”
Hughes insisted as he left the room that Stoke had not tabled a bid for Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole and was even more dismissive of the suggestion that the Potters had shown an interest in Black Cats striker Steven Fletcher.