Stoke City heading for promotion?
Stoke City turnaround under Michael O’Neill
When Michael O’Neill came into Stoke in November 2019, Stoke had won two games in 15 and were at the bottom of the Championship table. In all Stoke fans minds, relegation was the only place they were going to end up at the end of the season.
O’Neill quickly changed the teams form and in his first game the Potters beat Barnsley 4-2 away from home to kick start his reign as Manager. After a turnaround of results which saw the Potters claw out of relegation, he saw his side finish in a respectable position of 15th place, one better than the previous campaign of 16th. O’Neill showed a staggering change in results when he came in, pushing Stoke into playoff form. In his first 14 games as manager, they had the third best form in the league behind Nottingham Forest and eventual play off winners Fulham.
Michael O'Neill has now won as many games as #scfc boss as Nathan Jones. 6 wins in 14 games, compared to 6 in 38.
— poc (@peteoconn) January 20, 2020
But what has been so impressive since the appointment of Michael O’Neil at Stoke? Since the start of this season alone, Stoke have 12 clean sheets in 23 games meaning they have not conceded a goal in over half of their games this season, this is even in the absence of four other senior goalkeepers at the club. In 11 games played this season away from home, Stoke have kept 9 clean sheets which is the most in the Championship this season. Since coming in, O’Neill has played a flexible 5 at the back in most cases this season with the wing backs being able to bomb forward to join attacks, and with the trust he has shown in young players such as Tyrese Campbell, Harry Souttar and Nathan Collins, this young Stoke squad have been able to blossom into a team who are hard to break down and a dangerous team on the break.
At this current moment in time, Stoke sit 8th in the Championship table and two points off the play off places, two points behind Watford who occupy the last play-off position. With the season ending injury of top scorer Tyrese Campbell who before his injury had the second highest amount of goal involvements just behind Harry Kane, The Potters need to make some important new signings in attacking options if they are to be a contender come the end of the year. Stoke look close to signing £8 million rated attacker Rabbi Matondo from Schalke on loan to the end of the season and look to have experienced midfield player Joe Allen back.
However, the defensive solidarity that O’Neill has created at Stoke has shown what an enormous he has created at the club and got Stoke fans dreaming of Premier League football once again.
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 6, 2021
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