Stoke City live – Michael O’Neill press conference ahead of Middlesbrough test

People starting to see Stoke as contenders – good or prefer to go under radar?

MON: It’s good that you’re recognised in terms of where the team is.

But 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.

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