Date: 16th October 2017 at 4:45am
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Manager Mark Hughes held his hands up following Stoke City’s seven two defeat to Manchester City at the weekend.

Travelling to face Pep Guardiola’s side at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, a scintillating performance from the hosts and Kevin de Bruyne in particular saw football’s equivalent of a cricket score and Hughes knew we could have no complaints about the quality of their showing, or the result, especially as we didn’t execute the game plan correctly – or at the very least it certainly didn’t pay off for us.

Speaking to the Official Website as he met with the media following the game, Hughes explained.

‘We hold our hands up and acknowledge that we didn`t execute our game plan correctly, and I am as much to blame for that as the players. They were quicker, stronger and anticipated things far quicker than us, and in the end we had no answers to the questions they posed to us.’

The one comfort Hughes could take was that he knew in that form, City will blow others away in a similar fashion in the future.

‘We aren`t the first team that this has happened to here and we certainly won`t be the last, but the big disappointment for us was the way we allowed the goals to flow past us.’

His biggest disappointment was in seeing us three goals down, but having made it three two and partially got ourselves back in the game, we again crumbled as City stepped it up a gear.

‘I have to say, the first half we were way off the levels we needed to be at – we didn`t defend good enough and it was far too easy for them. As a consequence of that we were three goals behind midway through the first half, which when you come to places like this you simply can`t allow to happen. We got a goal back before half-time and we made a couple of changes just to try and stem the flow. At 3-2 you think we have steadied the ship and are back in the game but then Kevin de Bruyne grabbed the game by the scruff of the net and showed world class qualities to take the game away from us.’

Speaking specifically about de Bruyne, he went on to add.

‘His quality throughout the time he was on the pitch was absolutely sensational to be perfectly honest – for me he is the best player in the Premier League by a country mile.’

Vice skipper Darren Fletcher was also meeting with the press following the game and he knew the players owed the fans a reaction next weekend.

‘It was a bad day for us – it certainly isn`t a result that is acceptable. That said, if there is one team capable of doing what they have done today, then that team is Manchester City. We didn`t help ourselves, we shot ourselves in the foot several times and made a number of mistakes which they punished us for.’

The Scottish international went on to say.

‘Good teams like Manchester City are ruthless and they punish you – as the scoreline suggests we were well beaten in the end. This is going to be a tough one to get over, however it is only one game in 38 and we have to move on now as quickly as we can, and although it isn`t nice saying it, we will learn a lot from today. We are at home next weekend and we need to get the crowd right back behind us, just like they always are to be fair to them. We need to show a response to them and everyone will – our performance levels have been ok this season, we were punished against Chelsea and we hold our hands up and admit we weren`t good enough today. We have to respond and come out of the traps quickly against Bournemouth – it`s vital we bounce straight back from today`s result.’

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