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Hughes bites back after Stoke City criticism

Mark Hughes has accused Stoke City's owners of trying to "airbrush" his success out of the club's history.

Peter and John Coates suggested this week that they should have sacked Hughes earlier than they did in order to give Stoke the best chance of Premier League survivial.

The 54-year-old Southampton manager feels those in charge at his old club have been took quick to ignore his achievements, which included three ninth-place finishes in the Premier League, the highest they have ever managed.

"It was difficult season," Hughes told a news conference. "I'm a little bit disappointed maybe that the success we had in my four and a half years, it seems to me that part of their history certain people want to airbrush the success we had.

"It's there for everyone to see I was their most successful Premier League manager. It didn't end like I wanted it to, nobody wanted that, but every one of my staff and myself put heart and soul into that job.

"I'm really sorry that unfortunately they've gone out of the league, but it can happen to anybody if you take your eye off the ball."

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Hughes was dismissed in January after an FA Cup third-round loss to Coventry City, with replacement Paul Lambert unable to improve their fortunes and their relegation from the top flight confirmed by last weekend's 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.

Since taking over at Southampton in March, Hughes has taken them to the brink of safety, with Tuesday's 1-0 win at Swansea City putting his side three points clear of the bottom three ahead of the final round of games, while they also boast a superior goal difference.

Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland has also been heavily critical of the running of the club in the past week, describing their transfer policy as "farcical".

It is predicted that the England international will leave before next season, but Lambert has warned his players not to expect a move simply because of their personal frustration.

"Lads are under contract," he said. "It's not as if you can just walk out here and throw your toys out the pram and think 'I'm going to go.' You might not be going anywhere.

"If the club keeps the core of the team and adds to it, adds guys that want to be here, the right type of player, the right type of mentality, the right character, then there's a great chance this club will bounce straight back up."

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