Mark Hughes said Stoke are only going to get better after seeing his side pick up their first away win of the season with a 1-0 victory at Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.
Darren Fletcher’s expertly-taken volley in the first half was enough for the Potters to pick up three points that saw them climb out of the relegation zone and up to 13th in the standings, easing pressure on Hughes in the process.
Stoke had previously lost five of their last six in all competitions, but Hughes pointed to a tough run of fixtures and never doubted his side would come good.
“I am delighted. It was an excellent away performance. We understood what Watford were going to do today, but we got our game plan spot on. They found us very difficult to break down and they were always a threat on the break,” Hughes said.
“We have had a difficult run in terms of fixtures, but actually, in terms of like-for-like results, we are actually six points better off than in the same fixtures last season, so maybe we are not doing as badly as people think. We are a good side, we are doing fine. We know how to approach Premier League seasons, and it is only early days for us. We are only going to get better.”
One flashpoint at the end of the match saw Watford captain Troy Deeney and Stoke’s Joe Allen clash, as the Englishman refused to give the ball back after goalkeeper Jack Butland had kicked it out to allow team mate Erik Pieters to receive treatment.
Both were cautioned by the referee. Hughes, however, feels Deeney may face further, retrospective, punishment.
“Obviously Deeney, captain of the club, should know better,” Hughes added. “He obviously shaped up to put the ball into our box and obviously Joe (Allen) has reacted like he has. At that point, it should have petered out, but it went on far too long. I have since seen pictures of raised hands and thumbnails in faces which is totally unnecessary. Maybe other people will look at that. I am not advocating banning players, but more often than not these situations get revisited by people in authority and decisions are made as a consequence. Maybe just let that take its course and see what happens.”