They say a manager makes a team is his own image. This was never truer than in the case of Mark Hughes and Stoke. Objectively he has done a fantastic job. Taking over from a popular, successful, long serving coach is never easy – just ask David Moyes. The Welshman has kept the aerial power and physicality that made Pulis’ team so tough to play against, but has added some nice football through the likes of Odemwingie and Arnautovic.
Like Hughes in his prime, Stoke marry quality with toughness, but this outer makeover hides a dark heart, a nasty side, that was fully in evidence yesterday. In a shameful display from the manager, crowd and players, Danny Rose was bullied and hounded off the pitch for having the temerity to get kicked up in the air by the midlands side’s captain.
Shawcross’ second yellow card – the first was for a cynical block of Christian Eriksen when the Dane would have been clear – was fully deserved. He caught Rose late and high, sending the diminutive defender flying. Yet Hughes reacted with indignation, as if he and his side had been the victims of a great injustice. The crowd took his lead and began to boo Rose’s every touch, Stoke players singling him out for a succession of rough challenges, until he finally reacted, pushing Geoff Cameron in the chest.
From the touchline, Hughes led calls for a red card, but Rose only saw yellow. The push was minimal and only at chest height, which probably saved Tottenham. In an unusually sensible piece of management, Sherwood replaced Rose with Fryers and had a word with the defender, sending him straight down the tunnel. With a slender lead, away from home, diffusing the situation was imperative and the Spurs manager handled the situation well.
It was a testament to Stoke, that they managed to get a player sent off and create a lot of ill feeling, without Spurs’ chief bogeyman, Charlie Adam, even making the field. The belligerent Scot still managed to get into an altercation on the touchline with Adebayor.
The rest of the game almost felt like a sideshow, lacking in quality and structure. Stoke were the better side for much of it. Sherwood persisted with a central midfield of Chadli and Paulinho, with two up front, surrendering control to Stoke’s central five.
The goal came halfway through the first period, Adebayor beating a Stoke defender and chipping an inviting ball across the penalty box. Rose had found himself free, and possibly the smallest man on the pitch, powered a bullet header into the net. It was only his second league goal for Spurs, the first coming on his debut against rivals Arsenal – a fantastic 30 yard volley that had promised so much.
Stoke’s attacking midfield trio of Ireland, Odemwingie and Arnautovic created chances but they couldn’t convert. Tottenham’s defence, especially Hugo Lloris, did well to keep them out, thoroughly earning Spurs first clean sheet in ten. It was telling, that our best players were our goalkeeper and centre backs.
Hughes continued moaning after the game. Maybe he should take a long hard look at himself before blaming opposition players and the referee for his own shortcomings. He showed a severe lack of class, and it was a reminder to Spurs fans that there are worse fates than being managed by Sherwood.
The Spurs coach said in his post match interview, that it was all about getting points at this stage of the season. With fourth place all but mathematically gone, and players and manager fighting for their futures, nothing could be further from the truth. It was another lacklustre display but at least fans had the satisfaction of beating the Premier League’s nasty team.
Do you agree with my analysis? Was Hughes right? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.