LONDON, Dec 10 — Stoke City manager Mark Hughes admitted his team’s latest defeat, which guaranteed them an embarrassing piece of top-tier English football history, will damage their confidence.
The 5-1 mauling at Tottenham Hotspur, who had previously beaten Stoke 4-0 three times in a row, means Hughes’s side are alone in losing to another top-flight club by four or more goals in four successive games.
“This league tests you week in week out,” said Hughes, who is under pressure after his side dropped to three points above the relegation zone on a day in which the bottom three teams all picked up at least a point.
Stoke have won just once in seven league games and looked short of confidence in leaking four second-half goals.
“It’s not good enough doing okay just for 45 minutes,” said Hughes. “I thought we had done reasonably well in the first half; I was quite encouraged by how we played.
“We started to chase the game and Spurs can then pick you off, which is what happened. We couldn’t deal with their power and pace. We struggled in one-on-one situations, we needed to get tighter.”
In particular, Stoke struggled to deal with Harry Kane, whose two goals mean he is the first Englishman to score 50 in a calendar year for club and country since Everton’s Dixie Dean in 1927.
Hughes risks criticism for playing three at the back with 18-year-old Tom Edwards granted only his second start and first since Stoke lost 7-2 at Manchester City.
Edwards was replaced in the second half when Hughes switched to a flat back four.
“Tom is a young player we have got a lot of trust in,” Hughes said. “I wouldn’t have put him in if I didn’t think he could handle it. He’s been unfortunate again because the games I’ve picked him in have been Man City and Spurs away.
“Sometimes young players need an experience like this early in their career. He will have learned from it and we hope that helps his development, albeit that wasn’t the intention before the game.” — Reuters