Mark Hughes has admitted to having words with Eric Pieters after the full-back was substituted during Stoke City’s 4-1 defeat at Liverpool.
After falling behind to a sloppy Alberto Moreno goal at Anfield on Sunday, Stoke drew level through Bojan and were well in the game at half-time despite Daniel Sturridge restoring the hosts’ lead.
Divock Origi stepped off the bench to score two further second-half goals, however, with Hughes left to rue uncharacteristic defensive lapses as the Potters conceded four goals for the first time all season.
He said: “We had a decent amount of control in the game, we were working the ball up the pitch to good effect, getting the ball out wide, but unfortunately for us the story of the game was our inability to stop balls coming into our box. And when they did come into our box, we lacked the ability to clear them or defend them correctly.
“In the end 4-1 we feel is a little bit hard on us given what we did in the first half but you’ve got to have a full 90-minute performance and unfortunately we didn’t have that.”
Hughes and Pieters had words late in the game, with the full-back substituted shortly after and notably not exchanging so much as a glance with the Stoke boss.
Hughes shrugged off the incident, saying: “There may well have been (words) but those things happen. We just needed to be a little bit more solid and I just felt I needed to make a change.”
On his decision to hand Peter Crouch only his second Premier League start of the season up front, Hughes added: “Peter I thought did fine. We have looked at Liverpool games in the past and obviously he’s had experience of games against them this season as well and we’ve always found they’ve struggled with balls in the air when we go more direct than we normally do.”