Football

Mark Hughes denies Stoke ultimatum to save his job

Stoke have not told Mark Hughes defeat against West Brom will mean he gets the sack, according to the manager.

Hughes’ side have won just one of their last eight games to leave them a point above the relegation zone heading into the festive fixture pile-up.

But the Stoke boss has batted away suggestions anything but a victory over West Brom would mean he would be unemployed at Christmas.

“No, I don’t think that’s where we are at,” said Hughes. “The media will set timelines but that’s not what is happening in the corridors here in my view.

“We’re in a situation where we are not where we expected to be, we all acknowledge that, but I would be more concerned if I felt the side didn’t have the capabilities to get more points on the board from this point onward.

“A lot of the comments come from people who haven’t even bothered to watch our games, they’re just picking up on hearsay, elaborating and embellishing things.”

Stoke were beaten 3-0 at home to West Ham last weekend, who have leapfrogged the Potters in the Premier League table since replacing Slaven Bilic with David Moyes as manager.

But Hughes insisted a managerial change would not improve Stoke’ chances of avoiding the drop.

“Initially you get a manager bounce, but usually when you look at the stats it doesn’t make a great difference,” said Hughes.

“Do you bring someone from the outside who doesn’t know the group, the frailties, the limitations, the strengths? Or do you continue with the guy that has worked with them solidly for a good period and knows what they are able to achieve?

“I know what my view is.”

Manuel Lanzini has been handed a two-game ban for ‘successful deception of a match official’ after he won a penalty from which West Ham opened the scoring against Stoke.

The winger subsequently missed the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Arsenal and will serve the final match of his suspension against another side battling relegation, Newcastle, this weekend.

“We need a level playing field,” said Hughes. “We’ve been hurt by refereeing decisions of late. Key moments in key games have been affected by decisions the referee has made.

“The lad has got sanctioned for diving, rightly, but the only group that haven’t had the benefit of that are ourselves.

“That needs to change, the referees need to step up and get decisions right.

“It doesn’t seem that it’s correct. It may change with video referees coming in. Maybe that’s something to be applauded that they actually realise there’s a problem and are trying to do something about it.

“Maybe because the offence was against us he shouldn’t be allowed to play against us in the return game.”

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