‘The fact is’ – Michael O’Neill’s full verdict on Sam Clucas, Nick Powell and Stoke City


Michael O’Neill might have had a bit more nerves than he might have liked but it was the three points that were all important as Stoke City beat Huddersfield Town 4-3.

Here is the manager’s post-match interview as Stoke sit nicely poised, one points outside the Championship play-off places.

Four goals at home is normally enough to win comfortably!

Michael O’Neill: I think we have to give credit to the opposition as well. Huddersfield are a very good team and we expected them to come and play as they did.

We had to try to keep our shape, they like it to be very open with a bit of chaos. We talked about it before the game.

But it’s hard to keep control of the game at times in that situation.

What we did very well was win the ball back high up the pitch. We created a lot of opportunities off the back of that.

When you concede three at home you’re always going to have disappointments, we’ll look at the goals and where we could be better.

But the fact is we’re scoring goals, creating chances and we took the three points.

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Stoke are doing well winning the ball back high up the pitch?

MON: It’s something we work quite hard on in terms of how teams will come and play differently.

I think you need good experience in the team and good structure as well. John Obi is a big part of that, helping organise people around himself.

The most important thing is when you win it, is that the players you have can hurt the opposition and we have that in Campbell, Brown, Powell and Fletcher…

Powell’s very good in that situation at winning the ball and playing it quickly. I thought he terrific today.

The Campbell-Fletcher partnership is starting to develop

MON: It’s a partnership in a front three, really. Nick is a big part of that behind.

One thing Steven has brought to the team, as well as his goal threat, is his all-round play.

Tye has reacted to him well and Nick has as well.

When I look at the games this season there haven’t been many when we haven’t looked like scoring. We haven’t drawn a blank too many times.

Long may that continue.

Six goals this season for Tyrese Campbell, whose confidence must be sky high?

MON: He’s comfortable playing in the wide areas and I think in these types of games when it gets open and stretched, he does that really well.

We started the second half really well and we had three or four good chances before we scored.

Then we conceded off a set piece which breathes life back into them and we had to defend for the last 10 minutes when they put a lot of bodies high.

Tye has been terrific. There is still more in the tank and we intend to get that out of him.

A memorable debut for Joe Bursik

MON: I thought he did well. He wasn’t at fault for any of the goals.

It was a difficult day for a goalkeeper with the conditions but he kicked very well and his starting positions were very good. He came out of his box a couple of times to make interceptions.

And you could hear him in the game.

It’s good for him. I’m sure he came in hoping to keep a clean sheet but the fact is we won the game and he played a big part in that.

This is the nature of this league, as a goalkeeper you will concede goals at times.

But it was a good start for him.

Defenders rallying around Bursik to help

MON: We finished the game with a back three with Nathan coming on and that’s when Danny’s at his best, asked to defend his box, and Harry as well.

The opposition were behind in the game and we knew they were going to have bodies high. They had a lot of attacking player on the pitch, they were gambling, and we had to be ready to deal with that.

I thought the defensive three/five did very well.

Sam Clucas returns with a good goal

MON: Yes, it was a good finish. We’ve just been waiting for Sam to score, he’s always going to bring that to the table. It was a good goal and turned out to be important.





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