Mark Hughes maintained he is the “best person” for the job at Stoke City despite renewed calls from supporters for him to be sacked in the wake of a fifth defeat in seven matches. The Stoke manager brought himself under added pressure by fielding a weakened team for the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday and that gamble failed to pay off as his side lost 1-0 at home against Newcastle.
Although Hughes insisted he had no regrets about his team selection at Chelsea and claimed he “would still make the same decision given the same circumstances again”, the Welshman lost his cool when pressed on that subject after Newcastle’s win and stormed out of his post-match press conference.
Hughes, who brought six players back into the Stoke side for Newcastle’s visit, said: “Everyone’s saying that I gambled but I used the players that I had. What was I going to do, risk players that had a big part to play today? Plenty of teams have made changes today, everyone else is doing it too.
“People have mentioned that I played two young full-backs [at Stamford Bridge] – that’s all we had, that’s the reality. The plan was clearly if we could have stayed in the game a bit longer at Chelsea, maybe until half-time, then if we were in striking distance, get some more senior players and ‘let’s have a go’. As it was, the game was over after 30 minutes, so I made the decision to protect them for this game. If I had won today it would have been great management. As it happens, it’s gone against me. I’m brave enough to take it on the chin.”
As well as chants of “Hughes out” towards the end of the Newcastle game some Stoke supporters held up banners calling for the manager to be sacked. “It’s to be expected,” said Hughes. “I think for the last two or three weeks the agenda in the media and on lots of platforms, on social media, that’s what was going to happen. The noise only goes away if you win.”
Stoke are only two points and two places above the relegation zone, yet Hughes was bullish about his own position. “Who else is going to do it?” he replied, when asked about his future. “In terms of the knowledge of the group and the progress in my time here I’m the best person to do it.”