Stoke City chairman Peter Coates insists he remains confident of seeing his club survive their relegation battle to remain in the Championship by the end of the season.
He says he has every confidence in manager Michael O’Neill on the evidence so far – but admits survival for Stoke City could be a tight squeeze that might even go to their very last fixture of the season at high-flying Nottingham Forest.
Asked if he remained optimistic about his club’s survival prospects, he replied: “Obviously. Absolutely! Yes, I do believe we have got the players and the management team to make sure we are okay.
“Michael’s record since he came in as manager has been hugely encouraging. I think we would be around about top eight if the Championship table was based on results since he took charge.
“But while I remain very optimistic, nobody should be under any illusion about just how difficult it is going to be.
“There are eight teams in there fighting for the lives, just like we saw from Middlesbrough against Nottingham Forest this week, and it is going to remain hugely competitive.
“Every game we play between now and the end of the season, whoever it is against, and wherever it is played, will be difficult. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that.
“It might well be that survival goes to the very last game of the season and, if so, we have to be prepared for that.
“Ultimately, we have to help ourselves, we cannot rely on others, and as things stand it is in our own hands.
“It is up to us to get the results we need, but I am hugely encouraged about the results and performances that Michael and his management team have enjoyed so far.”