The sight of Stoke’s squad being confronted by angry fans at a train station after Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Tottenham “could possibly be a good thing”, according to boss Mark Hughes.
Potters supporters vented their fury at players on the platform having shared a train back from the capital, where Spurs inflicted their latest thrashing on Stoke to leave them three points above the bottom three.
Stoke have won just three of the last 15 games and Hughes’ team was made aware of the growing frustration among the fanbase when they were greeted with chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” upon their return to the city.
Rather than further denting their fragile confidence, Hughes hopes his players will use their public shaming as a motivational tool ahead of pivotal pre-Christmas fixtures with Burnley, West Ham and West Brom.
“I think that could possibly be a good thing,” the Welshman said.
“Sometimes we’re accused as managers, coaches, players, of being in our own little bubble and sometimes you have to be exposed to the genuine feeling of the fans.
“On the day it was a little bit emotional, clearly. We were hurting as much as the fans were.
“We probably irritated them a little bit because for whatever reason the decision was made that the doors on the train were locked and they (the fans) couldn’t get out and we were allowed to get off first.
“I don’t know who made that decision but that maybe upped the level of frustration as well. That didn’t help the situation.
“We understand totally, it wasn’t acceptable on the day. We’re all of the view we owe it to the fans to do something about it and we’ve got that opportunity on Tuesday and that’s our intention.”
Such supporter discontent will not have gone unnoticed by Potters chairman Peter Coates, who told The Sentinel the club have “two big games coming up” and would not be drawn specifically on Hughes’ future.
However, Hughes knows victories at Turf Moor on Tuesday and against West Ham at home four days later could ensure Stoke are in the table’s top half and he is free from scrutiny once more.
“For the most part there seems to have been pressure on us right from the beginning of the season – we’ve dealt with it,” he added.
“We’ll deal with this, the level of pressure we’re under. If we win the next two games we’ll be in the top half so it goes away very, very quickly.
“The only way it dissipates – pressure on teams, managers, players – is by winning. It’s a simple formula, you’ve just got to win more games and if you do it goes away, it goes somewhere else.”
Though changes are expected after Spurs scored four or more past them for the fourth game running, Hughes has no fresh injury concerns and is still without striker Jese Rodriguez, who has remained at home to be with his ill son.