Mark Hughes has rubbished reports of disharmony at Premier League strugglers Stoke City.
There have been suggestions Hughes and his staff were unimpressed with Wilfried Bony’s attitude following his August loan move from Manchester City, while big-money January recruit Giannelli Imbula is also reportedly considered aloof by other members of the team.
It is an unwanted distraction for Hughes, whose side prop up the table with one point from five games, but the former Wales manager is giving little credence to the stories.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home game with West Brom, he told a news conference: “Let’s nip this story in the bud. Unfortunately we are fair game for some areas of work, who feel they can get easy headlines. It is very predictable, and it all comes up at these times and these situations.
“To question players is totally untrue. Wilfried has come in and made a real positive impact behind the scenes. He hasn’t had too many games in the past year and he is still getting up to speed. To say we are questioning his attitude is totally wrong. Some of the guys are struggling for a bit of form.
Former Stoke manager Tony Pulis returns to the bet365 Stadium on Saturday and will take charge of his 1,000 competitive game as a manager.
Asked to comment on his countryman’s achievement, Hughes said: “He is just a manager like we all are, and will be hoping his team can come here and beat a very good team.
“Whether there is a special resonance to him, maybe you would have to ask him that. I think he will be approaching it like any other match.”