“We Shouldn’t Be Talking” – Stoke City Legend Makes Relegation Admission

Stoke City legend Denis Smith believes his former club will manage to stave off relegation by the end of the season, but acknowledges that it’s certainly “going to be tight”.

The battle for survival in the Championship is incredibly tense as just five points separate 15th and 23rd in the league table. The Potters are merely two points above the drop zone, with some important fixtures on the horizon.

Steven Schumacher’s side face a difficult trip to the MKM Stadium on Friday night against a Hull City team that are still battling hard to earn a spot inside the play-off places. This game is followed by a huge match at home to fellow relegation-threatened Huddersfield Town.

Schumacher has had a tricky time in charge at the Bet365 Stadium ever since leaving Plymouth Argyle back in December. In fact, both Stoke City and the Pilgrims are level on points right now and face each other towards the back end of April.

The 40-year-old has been in charge of 17 matches in all competitions so far but managed to guide the team to only five victories, losing nine times. Stoke even fell into the relegation at one point, leading to early speculation about his future.

An impressive 2-1 victory away at Preston North End in early March suggested that Schumacher’s men had turned a corner. However, City were then comfortably beaten 3-0 at home to Norwich City prior to the international break, bringing the side straight back down to earth.

Nevertheless, while staying up this season may be tricky, legend Denis Smith has still backed his old club to survive for another campaign in England’s second tier in an interview with BBC Sport [quotes via Inside Futbol]:

“I’m fairly confident we won’t go down but it’s going to be tight.

“If we finish fifth or sixth off bottom, that’s where we are and then we’ve got to start building after, but get this season over first.

“The next game is the important game. I honestly believe that we’ll stay up,” he continued.

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“We could be comfortably a few more places up the league, but it still doesn’t make it a good season the fact that we’ve stayed up.”

“We shouldn’t be talking about ‘are they going to go down?’.

“I honestly believe, on what I’ve seen and what we’ve got within the club, that we will stay up.”

Writer’s View

Due to having more winnable fixtures from now until the end of the season in comparison to other clubs in the dogfight, Stoke City have only been handed a 17.4% chance of being relegated down to League One for the first time in decades, according to Opta’s latest projections.

Schumacher’s side are strong enough to stay up but they need to start putting consecutive wins together. Beating a side like Preston at Deepdale only to lose heavily to Norwich a few days later won’t fill many supporters with the same confidence that Smith shares.

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About Adam Scully 896 Articles
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