Michael O’Neill might be insisting the P word inside Stoke City is progress rather than promotion but he is happy if fans are getting excited.
Ten points in five games has kept Stoke right in the mix at the right end of the Championship, only three points off leaders Norwich even if they are down in eighth.
There are now two testing home games against fellow would-be challengers Middlesbrough and Cardiff when Stoke are hoping to cement their credentials.
And O’Neill is happy if there’s a buzz about what’s possible.
He said in his press conference this afternoon: “That’s a good thing. Expectation is a good thing to create. I think where the team is now, we have to continue to look to push on.
“You’re right, 10 points from five games is a good return. If you replicate that over a season you’re going to be in a very good position. It’s difficult to do that but I still think we’re capable of putting runs together when we can go unbeaten for a number of games. We have to continue to try to do that.
“When we’ve lost a game, I think, Sheffield Wednesday aside, we’ve gone on and won the next game. I think that’s important.
“It’s very easy to get into runs when you can’t pick up points and even when I came in we found it difficult. We’d win one, lose one, win one, lose one and you want to try to break that pattern so you can go three, four, five unbeaten.
“It’s the losses more than anything else that damage confidence and you want to make sure you keep those to a minimum.”
Middlesbrough, in 10th, are only one point behind Stoke and the top half of the division is congested, with nine teams on 24, 25, 26 or 27 points.
O’Neill said: “As I’ve said previously, for us it’s genuinely about trying to put points on the board and continue to progress. We’ve not set any benchmark.
“We said to the players at the start of the season that it’s imperative that we’re in the top half of the table because if you’re in the top half, then you’re in with a push for a top six position. That hasn’t changed in terms of our thinking.
“We’ve lost four games this season and they are all to teams above us in the league.
“That gives us a little benchmark and some of those games we probably shouldn’t have lost.
“You can always look at one or two points you have dropped and feel you shouldn’t have but other teams are in that scenario as well.
“What we have is a league that, if you look at it from first to 12th or 14th, there is very little in it at all.
“Where we’ve been quite good is that we’ve not allowed a bad result to fester. We’ve not allowed a defeat to become two defeats or three defeats.
“That’s what we have to continue with going forward and make sure that our good runs are longer and more consistent than our bad runs.”