Stoke are better than relegation candidates – but this is now a massive period for them, says Phil Thompson

October 22, 2017

Phil Thompson suggested Stoke City didn’t deserve to lose against Bournemouth – but that doesn’t count for much as they slipped into the bottom three.

The Sky Sports pundit reckons Mark Hughes will have been stung by boos from home fans at half and full-time at the bet365 Stadium and that they must now prove their Premier League credentials.

“I think – and I think most people would say – that Stoke are better than relegation candidates,” he said.

“But I think there is a lack of confidence and a lack of creativity in the midfield area, trying to play balls. They were going very long in the second half.”

The defeat leaves Stoke in 18th and set up Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling to ask Thompson if the Potters were in dire straits.

“Yes, I would say so,” said former Liverpool defender Thompson.

“They deserved something out of this game but it’s on results at the moment and they’ve lost five out of the last six in all competitions. This is a massive time for them and the boos that rang out at half-time and full-time won’t have been pleasant listening for Mark Hughes. He’ll have been very disappointed.”

Bournemouth had the wind on their backs in the opening stages and Thompson admitted conditions played ‘a massive part’.

He said: “We always say a cold windy afternoon and this really was. Bournemouth took advantage of it. After getting beat 7-2 last week Stoke must’ve been getting worried when they conceded two in two minutes.

“The first was terrific from Andy Surman, who we know has a good left foot and he guided it in to the left corner. That was good and then soon after Ryan Shawcross, who looked a bit rusty early on in the game, brought down Afobe, who was desperate to take the penalty. Stanilas perhaps pulled rank and went right down the middle.

“But in that first half Shawcross, Choupo-Moting and Diouf all missed clear cut chances. There wasn’t too much in it.

“The second half was all about Stoke City and it was Diouf who scored with a very good finish. The ball comes back in the box and Diouf knees it into the back of the net. It was a grand stand finish and Stoke deserved something.”