Stoke boss Mark Hughes expressed disappointment that news of Saido Berahino’s two-month ban emerged on the eve of his return to West Brom as the fall-out over the striker’s transfer continued.
The manager intimated he felt the Baggies allowed the news to break just two days before the Potters’ 1-0 defeat at Albion on Saturday.
The Daily Mail reported this week Berahino tested positive for a recreational drug during his time at The Hawthorns, although neither club confirmed the reason for his ban, which he served between October and December.
Hughes maintained Stoke were not made aware of the suspension by the Baggies during last month’s transfer negotiations, which ended with Berahino moving to the bet365 Stadium for £12million.
The Welshman said Stoke learned of the ban via other sources, and the first time the clubs discussed it was when the Potters approached Albion.
He said: “There’s some talk West Brom had made us fully aware of the situation but they didn’t. We knew the situation anyway.
“We knew at some point it would come out but it’s a disappointment. It’s probably disappointing for West Brom too because clearly they were able to keep the issue discreetly under wraps for six or seven months and lo and behold two days before a game against his new club it comes out.
“It’s a shame as people would suggest maybe West Brom had something to do with that. I’m not saying that, you can interpret it like that.”
Press Association Sport understands Albion are adamant they did everything above board and that once a deal was struck – and before money changed hands – Stoke were fully briefed.
Hughes and Albion boss Tony Pulis also failed to shake hands before or after the game as the bad feeling between the managers continued.
That was about as much impact as Berahino – who made a disappointing substitute appearance – had on a match which was settled by James Morrison’s early goal.
Hughes added: “I didn’t see (Pulis) to shake his hand. I was on the touchline for some time after the game. Who’s the onus on? I don’t know. He didn’t shake my hand before the game either. I would have thought being the guest of the club he would have come over and welcomed me to the ground.”
Baggies assistant manager Dave Kemp, asked to attend the press conference by Pulis, dismissed the lack of a handshake.
He added: “Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t, I wouldn’t read too much into that. He wants his team to win, our manager wants his team to win. it’s just the way it is.”
Kemp was also relaxed about Berahino’s second-half introduction, when he replaced Peter Crouch.
He said: “He was always going to come on, hopefully give them a lift, but by that time we had a hold of the game and it was good for us.”
Morrison and Salomon Rondon could have extended the Baggies’ lead while James McClean was denied by Lee Grant in the second half as Albion remained eighth.
Kemp added: “Let’s not get too excited, we have 36 points. putting a good run of form together, game by game and see where it takes us. it wasn’t too long ago people were worried about the other end of the table.”