I don’t like him but 10 out of 10 for Mark Hughes when it comes to his brutal honesty on Saturday.

At 2pm yesterday afternoon, Newcastle fans discovered that Rafa Benitez had made seven changes to the team that played a very much backs to the wall performance against Manchester City on Wednesday.

At the same moment, Stoke fans were finding out that having travelled to West London, they were set to have an even more uncomfortable afternoon at Stamford Bridge than they imagined.

Stoke’s players had a day and a half’s extra rest (compared to Newcastle’s) having played out a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield on Boxing Day. Nevertheless, Mark Hughes made seven changes to his team.

The Stoke boss put out a clearly second choice team, which included leaving out five of the front six who started at Huddersfield.

Whilst Rafa Benitez amusingly claimed that his eleven against Manchester City were his first choice team and not a situation of rotating/resting and keeping his better players fresh and available for the more winnable Brighton match, Mark Hughes instead told it like is was after being hammered 5-0 by Chelsea.

Hughes’ team hardly had a kick, the stats showing Chelsea with 21 shots to Stoke’s one, whilst the visitors didn’t have a single corner.

Mark Hughes:

“The decisions weren’t easy but they were decisions I was prepared to make.

“It’s about getting the win against Newcastle now.

“We hope we will get it and then this Christmas period will have been a good return. It would be two wins, a draw, and a defeat to Chelsea.

“We will have Joe Allen available, Shaqiri available, Choupo-Moting only did 10 to 15 minutes today (as a late sub), Kurt Zouma is available, maybe Erik Pieters. The landscape for Monday changes completely hopefully.

“We were stretched today, what we had defensively was what you saw. We had two young lads playing at a level way above where they’ve been playing in recent years. It’ll test them.

“The back four pairing hadn’t played together from memory. It was always going to be difficult for us. Clearly we made a poor start. There were collective errors and individual errors as well right through the game. It was difficult.

“We knew we’d be stretched playing the reigning champions.

“I knew they would have the quality to hurt us even with our best available 11 and today we couldn’t get that out on the pitch.

“I made decisions I feel will help us with the game we have on Monday.

“We rested players carrying knocks who will be fresh and ready to go (against Newcastle).”

As for Rafa Benitez, after the makeshift side he put out against Man City, he must have been gutted to see just how poor his team were against Brighton, clearly his best eleven as he went for the three points in this relegation clash.

Stoke have had a win over West Brom and the draw with Huddersfield before playing Chelsea, Hughes would clearly be ecstatic if they made it seven point from nine against relegation rivals if beating Newcastle.

The Magpies definitely need a win at Stoke but a defeat would be a complete disaster after only a point against Brighton.

The only positive is that Mark Hughes is clearly going all out for the win on Monday and that should suit Newcastle, whose lack of creativity was totally exposed against a Brighton side who were solid at the back and determined not to concede, hoping to score on a break of their own.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Brighton 0

Possession was Brighton 55% Newcastle 45%

Total shots were  Brighton 10 Newcastle 11

Shots on target were Brighton 3 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Brighton 6 Newcastle 3

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Perez 72), Hayden, Merino (Shelvey 76), Atsu, Joselu (Murphy 84), Gayle

Unused Subs:

Woodman, Manquillo, Mbemba, Diame

Crowd: 52,209 (2,200 Brighton)

(Read the instant Newcastle fan/writer reaction to the draw with Brighton HERE)

(The most worrying thing about Newcastle’s performance – Read HERE)

(Read the match ratings from the goalless draw HERE)



  • I’ve been screaming it from the roof tops for decades that up until the last 2 seasons, many Premier League teams have been not turning up against Man United and Chelsea for years deliberately and against Man United for decades even but no one listened. Now you can see it happening? now you’re all recognizing it? It took Manchester City to arrive at the top to acknowledge it? Seriously? The problem is the teams not turning up, not Manchester City, we’ve always turned up against the big team, pride in battle.

    • TheFatController

      Upon what facts do you base your theory that only you were able to recognise weakened teams being played against big clubs?

      It’s been so high profile teams have been threatened with fines over the years.

      And why do you think it’s only ‘since Man City arrived’ it’s finally being acknowledged ? It’s been acknowledged for years.

      I think you’ll find, through use of empirical study of news coverage of football in the past two decades, that you’re not the only one to acknowledge it, and it’s not something only being acknowledged now City are a big boy…

      • I’m speaking from a fans stand point, sure the media have mentioned it on an occasion but hardly any effort. Example: a high profile ex referee became whistleblower exposing the Premier League and PGMOB for using Referees to manipulate the outcome of matches. The media did such an amazing job that it was all politically brushed under the carpet, in the media for a few days then 💥 Bam. Being a blogger myself I follow hundreds of other clubs blogs and have seen very few of any talking about this very subject, it’s like fans don’t want to talk about that which they feel they can’t change. I on the other hand have raised it many times, now other City fans are calling out clubs likes yours for not even trying to beat us, you lot are accusing us of crying because you don’t attack us. If you want respect then your club should do what only Everton and Wolves did against us and try beat us instead of just parking a fleet of buses.

        • TheFatController

          You seem overly-obsessed with how we played against you.

          The fact that you won and yet are still now ranting about our tactics, our ‘weakened team’ and the lack of anger about weakened teams suggests
          – you’re angry at something other than football and need that sorted
          – you get angry when people don’t share your views and feelings ( you are angry no one wants to talk about weakened teams on other blogs – maybe that’s a result of the fact they are just too busy getting on with their lives in a balanced way?)

          Just an opinion.

          • Yet another lame ass troll trying to provoke, I see right through you pal.

          • TheFatController

            Not at all, you’re obsessed with the performance of a relegation zone team to the extent of coming on a website and ranting about weakened teams, and you’re not worried about the level of importance your assigning to it all whilst life goes on around you?

            If you think that’s me winding you up as a troll, and not someone just pointing out your over-reaction to something most would find completely irrelevant, you carry on with that delusion.

          • Relegation team aye, hold your club in such high regard, have a lot of faith in your club aye. I really don’t blame you for feeling this way considering you have to watch on and accept your club throwing a match they actually have nothing to lose in. After all what’s the point in trying to win a match you feel you’ve lost already, no you don’t deserve to be in the Premier League unlike Everton and Wolves.

        • Guest 2

          Aye, ok. And the PL/FA should do something about the blatant abuse of FFP which clubs like yours undertake.

          • Ah right, you must have been hibernating because Manchester City and the clubs fans were punished by Eufa and as for the FA’s FFP well, Manchester City have satisfied the FA rules. You’re living in a fantasy world and need to wake up. Manchester City are a financially stable football club and business, you’re just all bitter it wasn’t your club that was bought out by our owner, you’re bitterly envious and jealous and it’s blatantly obvious for all to see.

          • Guest 2

            A perfect example of an overblown self important Manc [email protected] If you are a prime example of City’s support then no wonder everyone hates you so much. Nothing to do with your owner, everything to do with knob’s like you.

          • Nar it has nothing to do with the fact you hate us because you ain’t us, from everybodies favourite second club, the whipping boys to everyone’s hated club. Nothing to do with the fact we’ve knocked you all off your perches. Nothing to do with the fact you all feel you have more right to be where we are now than we deserve. Shut up you fool, I don’t care what you think, you’re just another bitter in a long line of bitters, get back in line.

          • Guest 2

            Stop biting then. But you can’t as you love the sound of yourself so much. I think your team is great by the way – but you are most definitely a [email protected]

    • Wor Lass

      You`ve got an over-inflated view of your own perception and of City`s role in the development of the PL. Everyone has known for years that the two main ways of coping with the “big boys” is either get in their face and kick lumps out of them or park the bus and look for a late breakaway. Fat Sam has built his career on that approach. As the FA are methodically reducing the game to a no-contact sport the first option is more difficult to implement so teams are more and more resorting to the latter. The main victim of that approach has probably been Arsenal.

      • Stop talking utter nonsense, I never claimed City had any involvement in the development of the Premier League you moron, you did in that head of yours, you’re just fishing for Ann argument you troll and I’m not going to entertain you so move along.

        • Wor Lass

          You know, I love the football that City are playing and the individuals in the squad are fantastic – David Silva is maybe my all-time favourite foreign player to come in to the EPL. The club is a class outfit which is making genuine contributions to the infrastructure in Manchester and should be the model that others aspire to. The only problem is that they can`t select their fans to the same standards and you`re proof of that. Have a happy New Year, you prat.

          • Oh all because you say so, because you say I’m not a good enough supporter for City it’s Gospel? Shut your yap hole, I’ve supported Manchester City since 1975, I am the life blood of our club just like every other contributing City fan. We’re not here to please you fans of other clubs, if you don’t like us or what we say that’s your fkn problem, deal with it. You can like our club and our players all you like, I don’t like your club or any other club like it, dirty ass nasty cheating scumbags who think they can go out and deliberately injure opponents or fool the referee at the last minute by diving for penalties is just disgusting. You’re the only disgrace to a club here, one of your fans, just one on Twitter had the gonads to stand up and apologize for Puncheons deliberately reckless tackle which injured De Bruyne, as well as Zaha’s deliberate dive, kudo’s to that Palace fan, he’s a bigger fan to your club than you ever will be, at least our club has more respect and class.

          • Wor Lass

            De Jong – Ben Arfa? Nuff said.

          • Was a genuine accident you fkn no mark, Dejong never once hurt a single player before that moment, he even tried to visit Ben Arfa in hospital but your classless piece of shlt club refused to allow him, instead your club and fan base went on a witch hunt in the media and destroyed Dejongs career at City and ended his international career, he was never the same player again, Ben Arfa on the other hand still has his career and is still playing for one of he biggest clubs in Europe. Why don’t you just shut the fk up idiot, you know nothing, NOTHING.

          • Wor Lass

            … and Xabi Alonso?

          • Like I said you no mark, he was never the same player again, lost his place at City, was moved on and went down hill from there. You could say what happened to Xabi was a result of what you lot did to him. He was a tough tackling defender, when players go down hill and lose their confidence and things can happen like losing your head. You’re just a fkn jobsworth. Had your club let him visit the player in hospital and not gone on a witch hunt, he’d have probably stayed at City and not gone backward, Alonso wouldn’t have ended up hurt. You lot caused his downward spiral, bunch of prizes.

          • Wor Lass

            I`d love to think you were genuine because you`d be the biggest n0b immaginable but you can`t be. Noone is actually as dim as you`re trying to make out so you`re obviously a wind-up merchant. You`re still a n0b but in a different way. Enjoy your life.

  • DavyP

    So he done exactly the same as Rafa which apparently was a “genius” move until we didn’t get the win, now you realise stoke have done it too you write a sarcastic essay moaning about it. Wow

    • Wor Lass

      ” …. 10 out of 10 for Mark Hughes when it comes to his brutal honesty on Saturday.” I don`t think Jackie`s moaning about Hughes (although there`s plenty to moan about with that mealy-mouthed git). He`s more critical of Rafa, really.

  • ghostrider

    Any manager that throws a match should be sacked with no further pay and never manage a professional club again.

    If fans are actually calling that some kind of genius then don’t ever whine about the elite clubs widening the gap on the rest because this is the reason why.

    This is sickening.

    • Tomb

      Rafa did against city and forest in the cup

      • ghostrider

        He’s done it against more than that.
        The man wants sacking with immediate effect but should have been sacked a while ago.

        If he’s allowed to buy in January, we are doomed.
        Sack him now and give a new manager the chance to tweak the squad a little and we will more than have a comfortable end to the season.

        Rafa is losing the dressing room fast regardless of the charade that’s being played out saying the players are behind him.

    • Kneebotherm8

      There’ll be a cull of massive proportions then,even championship teams have been putting weakened teams out in the cups for years,us included,so don’t try to say this problem is particular to Benitez,this club or the Premier league.

  • Paul Patterson

    Getting sick to death of managers making changes all the time. Especially half a team and especially when we need consistency. It doesn’t help the team to gel either.

    • Wor Lass

      Especially when they`re not the right changes!

  • Leazes Ender

    The Premier League only exists for about seven clubs the rest are cannon fodder……

    We have been throwing cup matches for ten years….. and league matches for the last few….

    Lots of teams are doing it…. thanks to unequal sponsorship, Sky television, and the media who have fashioned it…. the Premiership was a joke when only Manure won it via income.

    its equally a joke now when clubs simply buy it.

    Money, it’s a crime
    Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie
    Roger Waters

    Pay your taxes Roger

  • Whickhamrobbie

    Sadly its how the league as a whole is going ,it will be like la liga soon 2 superclubs ,4 decent ones then the rest just trying to survive off one another .
    Most compeditive league in Europe ? dont make me vomit.

    • Leazes Ender

      Already there now.

    • gallowgate26

      It’s been like that for years.

  • Danimal

    We didn’t so much throw the game as protect our GD and confidence (unlike Stoke -23). But yes, of course it’s not a good state of affairs. As we know, these kinds of tactical decisions can rebound badly. Hopefully Stoke will find this out on Monday. Ever clutching at straws/staying calm, I would take a point from Stoke, then move onto the next one. I think we’ll have to win a few away games however, as we’ve pretty much used up the ‘easier’ home games. Watford now dark horses to join the relegation fight?

    • Kneebotherm8

      Would Hughes have admitted it if they hadn’t been hammered by 5 goals?
      If it had been 1 or 2 then I doubt he’d have said what he said.

  • gallowgate26

    Hughes comments are honest and fair enough. Rafa will be targeting this game as a 6 pointer just the same. The players need to be made aware of this and buck their ideas up from the Brighton performance.

    • Paul Patterson

      Maybe he should have targeted Brighton at home as a six pointer . .

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    This is everything that is wrong with English football when people seem to think that the throwing of matches is acceptable !
    I cannot believe what I am seeing written down here because it is the validation of corruption within the game.
    Is everyone walking around with their heads in the clouds or burying them collectively in the sand ?
    We have known for sometime that the F.A Cup has become a fake competition because managers field weakened sides which is effectively throwing games in some cases.

    It is coming to something when it is classed as being honest when a manager or owner comes out and more or less admits to cheating.
    If this is the case then why do any of us bother because it seems the whole thing is a lie without any spirit of competition in evidence here.

    Mike Ashley has more or less done the same in his time here but it is allowed to slide by without anyone saying a word.
    I’m ready to be shot down in flames here because no one seems to want to see the truth about what is happening to the sport of Association Football.

    • Mrkgw

      Absolutely agree. Disgusting to think that supporters pay considerably good money to watch football only for a Manager to admit to this. Pure contempt towards supporters that. Hughes should be fined for his admission.

  • Tomb

    We did the same against city except they missed chances. We also throw cup games every season

    • Kneebotherm8

      There’s more than us that “throw” cup games,and it’s been happening for years in the top 2 divisions.