It was a three-man team which squared up to supporters – some angry, some frustrated, some just out for a good night – during yesterday evening’s Fan Forum in the Waddington Suite.
Vice chairman John Coates played on the right, which won’t please his father, manager Michael O’Neill in the middle and Chief executive Tony Scholes sat on the left.
So how did the Stoke City trio rate out of 10 on the night?
Still a relative novice on the big occasion, he again conducted himself with a mixture of open honesty, firm authority and genuine emotion whenever the fate of his beloved Stoke City was on the agenda.
He wears the skipper’s armband with increasing assurance these days and didn’t hesitate jumping in to protect his team-mates on the few occasions required.
He also seemed to have match referee Steve Buxton firmly under control on the big decisions.
Has all the attributes, not least deep pockets, and should go a long way. 8/10
Seasoned campaigner on occasions like this, he wooed spectators and all but had them eating out of his hand by the end of the evening.
Light on his feet, he had an answer for everything thrown his way and already seems to know his audience inside out.
He gave them what they wanted to hear, without any unnecessary show-boating, but wasn’t afraid to put his foot in when needed either.
Oozing calm control and commanding deep respect, he looks like being a permanent fixture at Stoke City (for some time to come!). 9/10
Was caught a little flat-footed over the left-back situation at Stoke, you have to say, and then by inquiries over the failure to offer official transport to this evening’s under-18 cup final.
But an experienced and skilled campaigner who’s faced worse, he recovered his composure quickly enough and used the half-time break to find out what had happened re those missing coaches.
Decided honesty was the best course of action and almost threw himself at the home fans by holding his hands up and owning up to past mistakes, insisting he’d now spent enough time in the treatment room to learn from those mistakes.
Enjoyed the backing of his captain on the night, not least over his contract, and had to ride a few tasty tackles as fans continue to monitor his performance. 7/10