Hoops boss admits fight for survival will suffer due to forward's indiscipline and defends decision to drop Joey Barton as relegation fears deepen
Hughes spoke out after the former Liverpool and Sunderland striker saw red for the second time since he joined the Hoops in January for a two-footed lunge that means he will miss four of his club’s remaining eight games this season.
“It is a crazy challenge by Djibril that compromised us but in fairness even if he had stayed on the pitch I don’t think we would have won this game because we didn’t start in the right manner,” Hughes told reporters at his post-match press conference.
“Did he apologise? That is in the dressing room and we don’t have to go into that. But suffice to say I wasn’t too delighted.”
Hughes admitted the loss of Cisse, who joined the Loftus Road club in a £4 million deal with Italian side Lazio, will damage the club’s hopes of staving off relegation.
“We will be without him for four of the last eight matches and that is going to hurt us because when we have been able to keep him on the pitch he has been excellent for us with three in six games if you count today’s game,” Hughes added.
“We can’t really dwell on it. It is spilt milk from our point of view but we have to get on with it. I have to focus on the personnel that is available to me.”
Hughes also defended his decision to drop skipper Joey Barton who began a game on the bench for the first time since moving from Newcastle last summer.
“Joey [Barton] has been struggling for a little bit of form and he didn’t have a particularly good game on Wednesday which is well documented,” Hughes said.
“Jamie Mackie came in and had a really positive effect on the team and felt he merited a place in the side. That was the thinking behind it. I told Joey and he accepted it with good grace and accepted it very professionally as I would expect him to.”
Hughes insisted he did not see Barton’s hand gestures to fans as he reminded Sunderland supporters of the 5-1 drubbing by Newcastle that he helped inspire and which could land him in trouble with the Football Association.
Hughes did, though, lament his side’s lacklustre display and claimed that their downturn in fortune owed much to the 3-2 win over Liverpool
“We weren’t good enough, we started off slowly and were a bit apprehensive and never really picked it up from that point onwards. We conceded a poor goal. We didn’t compete in the box which we really advocate,” Hughes continued.
“All in all it was a really poor performance. I expected a lot more but I would put forward the case for ourselves that we expended a lot of energy emotionally and physically against Liverpool.
“But I expected more from us in terms of decision-making and doing the right thing are key moments in the game and we weren’t capable of that. We caused more problems for ourselves than the opposition did. It was more to do with how poorly we played.
“We never gave ourselves a chance to win this game and we will need to be much better than we were today to get positive results in our next few games that are on the horizon.”