As he watched his side capitulate to throw away a (well deserved) two goal lead at the weekend, it wasn’t his players that Mark Hughes directed his anger at, but the officials.
The Stoke boss claims that his team should have had a free-kick at the very least for Alex Song’s lunge in the centre of the pitch.
Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean that it was the reason West Ham scored their first to get themselves back into the match.
Just weeks after his side were awarded a very soft penalty when Victor Moses took a tumble against Swansea, Hughes, without a hint of irony has spoken out at how his side do not get the decisions others do:
“A fact of being at home is that more often than not home teams get more free-kicks for them with their crowd shouting and cheering – apart from Stoke that is,” he claimed.
Perhaps these stats can go some way to settling the grievances for the man that in 2008 was branded the “sixth dirtiest player in Premier League history”.
The Potters have won, on average, 10.3 free-kicks per game this season, with a median of 11.2 fouls per game going their way at the Britannia Stadium.
Far from being singled out by referees, the Staffordshire side sit eighth in the league table of free-kicks won at home. Incidentally, Arsenal (14) and Sunderland (13.2) are running away with it in that respect.
A mid-table position of 11th would adorn Stoke should it be based on the total number of fouls won, hardly something the Welshman can really complain about.
His position on Ryan Shawcross being unfairly treated for man-handling attackers at set-pieces may have some substance, with other players seemingly getting away with it.
However, that simply doesn’t make it right for him to hold players in the box, but that is another matter.
Maybe Hughes should take some of his player’s words as a basis for their two-point loss against the Londoners at the weekend.
Midfielder Steven N’Zonzi stated: “When we were 2-0 up we should have been more patient and compact defensively. It’s a problem if you can’t close games out. They only had two shots on target and scored two goals. When you see that statistic and know how many chances we had it’s really hard and we know we should have scored more.”
Next up for the Potters is a trip to White Hart Lane, for which they are 9/2 to cause a shock against Tottenham.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing
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