Hughes: West Brom win can be the beginning

Stoke manager Mark Hughes hopes Saturday’s 3-1 home win against West Brom goes some way towards repaying the faith shown in him by the club’s board.

Hughes’ future had become the subject of conjecture after five defeats in the previous six Premier League matches had dragged Stoke towards the relegation battle.

However, Hughes said in the build-up to the game he did not feel defeat would spell the end of his four and a half years in charge.

Chairman Peter Coates, though, described Saturday’s fixture against the second-from-bottom club as “one we need to win.”

It looked like Stoke would comfortably oblige after first-half goals from Joe Allen and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting put them firmly in control but West Brom rallied at the start of the second half and Salomon Rondon halved their deficit.

Ramadan Sobhi restored the two-goal cushion in injury time to seal just a second victory in nine Premier League games.

© ReutersAsked about his job, Hughes said at his post-match press conference: “I didn’t really have any doubts about it but I’m more confident after this week.

“I’m really proud of everybody connect with Stoke, from the players and staff and the owners as well, they have been fantastic this week, being really supportive and reassuring everybody that it’s business as usual.

“They base their business model on picking the right people and letting them do their job and they have always done that, that is something they stand by. If they think they have the right people then they back them.

“I’d like to think we have repaid them to some extent this week but it’s about the end of the season and making sure we give them what they want and what they deserve as owners, because they are top drawer.

“Hopefully this can be the start of a better second half to the season because we are only three or four points away from the area of the table we want to be in.”

Despite getting back into the match through Rondon’s 51st-minute strike, West Brom were unable to get anything from the game and Alan Pardew is still looking for his first victory since taking over as manager five matches ago. More worryingly, his group of players are without a Premier League win for 17 matches.

© ReutersPardew was able to take some positives from the loss and felt his side deserved at least a point from the match.

“The first two goals are errors on our part and that’s unusual since I’ve been here, we’ve been pretty sound defensively,” said Pardew.

“I don’t think we deserved to go into half-time 2-0 down, we had some big chances and could have been not just square but maybe in the lead.

“This team has gone a long time without winning so all credit to them for the way they played in the second half. Not only did they show the commitment and desire that you’d want as a manager – or a fan, they showed great quality, and with a little bit of luck we could have got an equaliser. We at least deserved that.”

Football365.com

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