Manager Michael O’Neill joined Stoke City Football Club in November 2019, with the club facing a possible relegation to Sky Bet League One as it sat bottom of the Championship table at the time.
Last season, O’Neill guided the Potters into a play-off spot in December, but the team suffered numerous injuries and ultimately found themselves in the Championship for a fourth successive season. So far in 2021/22, O’Neill has the Potters joint top of the Championship table after four league fixtures with three wins and a draw.
O’Neill previously served as manager of the Northern Ireland National Team, helping lead the Green and White Army to its first ever European Championship qualification in 2016, when the team defeated Greece, 3-1. For Northern Ireland, it was the first time in 30 years the team qualified for a major tournament.
O'Neill spoke to the media ahead of the second round cup clash...
On his team’s ability to remain patient in seeking goals:
“It’s very important to remain patient and not get frustrated. You can get into a bad habit, and the crowd can become anxious, and you end up going longer maybe too early in the game. You put the ball into the box too early. It’s important we try to play through the pitch. That’s a big part of how we build the game. The players worked very hard in pre-season, not just in terms of fitness, but in terms of how we want to play, and have a kind of an identity as a team as well.”
On how he wants his Stoke City team to be viewed:
“I told the team [after the Nottingham Forest game] that we’re a good team to watch. And that’s important. Yes, you want to win games. But it’s how we brought players to the club that can handle the ball. We didn’t have enough of those players in the squad that we inherited. I think to challenge and be the right type of team in this league, you’re going to have to do that. We’re a team capable of moving the ball and handling the ball.”
On whether or not he’ll make changes in the team against Rovers…
“Yeah, we’ll make some changes. The lads who’ve been out of the team deserve the chance to play, first of all. I think we can do that, and won’t necessarily weaken the team by doing that. We’re a squad of players that will not be able to pick the same team week-in and week-out. We’ll have injuries. We’ll have different situations to deal with. So, we need those players ready to play, and as I said, it gives them a chance to play. I’m looking forward to seeing that on Tuesday as well.”