Michael O’Neill started with praise for Sam Clucas, talked up Nick Powell and then worked his way through the whole team as he looked back on Stoke City ‘s 5-1 win over Hull.
A crucial win for Stoke was earned in some style, with two goals apiece for Clucas and Powell and a penalty for Tyrese Campbell.
They rise to 17th, their highest position of the season so far, and Hull, now winless in 12 since New Year’s Day, fall to 21st and just one place outside the bottom three. There are still, however, three points separating the Potters from Charlton in 22nd with nine games remaining.
But it is some turnaround considering the situation O’Neill inherited in November – and the fact Stoke were 15 points behind Hull after losing the reverse fixture back in early December.
Stoke had not scored more than twice in a game for 88 matches before O’Neill was appointed – but have managed it six times in his first 22 league games.
He said: “Very good. Sam Clucas has 10 goals from midfield now and showed again what a top class player he is. Different types of finishes. He’s been terrific for me, Sam, since I came in.
“Powell as well again showed what he is about, again playing slightly out of position.
“To do that and be as dangerous as he is shows what a quality player Nick is and his intelligence as well to play and develop in that role.
“We’re getting a lot out of the group, a lot out of the players.
“Tom Ince was very good, Jordan Thompson very good as well, the back four… no complaints about anyone to be honest.
“Other than the situation with Joe it was a perfect day for us and that certainly takes a bit of the gloss off everything.”
Stoke are now four unbeaten and have won seven of 11 home games under O’Neill, having won one of the previous 13 at home before he arrived.
The day was tarnished, however, by a serious injury for Joe Allen on the stroke of half-time.
O’Neill said: “The performance was very good. We got the performance we had asked for from the players.
“We said it was really important we played on the front foot today. We knew Hull were coming into this game on the back of a difficult run of form for them so it’s important you impose yourself over the opposition. I thought we did that right from the word go.
“We had chances before we scored, scored three good goals, could have scored more before half-time.
“Second half I think possibly the situation with Joe… the players were aware of that. It was nice to add to the three goals but I’m a little bit disappointed to concede. It would have been nice to keep the clean sheet.
“It was a great day’s work for us but obviously the injury takes a bit of shine off it.”