Former Toon Star Saves The Potters

Last updated : 17 February 2022 By Footy Mad - Editor

Former Newcastle midfielder Michael O'Neill has turned around a Stoke side who looked nailed on for relegation.

The Potters were one of the fancied sides for success at the beginning of the campaign but a disastrous start under Nathan Jones saw them rooted to the bottom of the Sky Bet Championship table as November arrived.

Their odds for the drop fell as short as 5/2 following defeat at home to West Brom. That was the last game of the era before O'Neill. Now, Stoke find themselves as big 14/1.

Regardless of the number of changes made, or the style of play that has been implemented, a manager will always be judged by the number of points their team earns while they are at the helm.

For O'Neill, this was significantly important given the position in which the Potters found themselves. He walked into a club who had picked up just eight points from their opening 15 games.

That incredibly slow start should have seen Stoke struggle, even with the points a new manager will bring. However, their form under O'Neill has been one of a side contending for the play-offs, not battling to avoid the drop.

Image result for Michael O'Neill Newcastle 1

There have been nine losses in his 22 games but they've secured 34 points following his appointment. Not only has that lifted them off the bottom of the table but it's moved them three points clear of the relegation zone.

It works out at 1.55 points per match. That average over the course of a 46-game season would see them gain a total of 71 points - a tally that could have resulted in sneaking into the play-offs based on the expected final table for the 2019/20 campaign.

Stoke's average points-per-game total should also see them finish with around 56 points this season if they continue at the current rate. That would have seen them finish 16th at the end of the previous campaign, overtaking the Stoke team in that position by a single point.

"I like my team to play on the front foot," O'Neill told the media in his first press conference in November.

"I like energy in my team, I like intensity in my team in a 4-3-3 system, whatever that may be, or a 4-4-2 at times.

"I think supporters want to see a team that is set up in a positive way and approaches the game in a positive way. That’s the message that we’ve hammered home to the players."