Tuesday 18 September 2018

Butland hails Stoke improvement under Lambert

The Potters have picked up five points in four games under their new boss.

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland
Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland

By Phil Medlicott, Press Association Sport

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland has no doubt the Potters have improved since Paul Lambert’s appointment as manager.

When Lambert’s predecessor Mark Hughes was sacked last month, Stoke had just lost at League Two Coventry in the FA Cup and been beaten in five of their previous seven Premier League games.

At that point they were 18th, and that is the position they occupied after Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Brighton.

But, with the record under Lambert so far showing one loss in four games and five points earned, Butland told Stoke’s official website: “(We are) really, really pleased with the improvement in performances since the manager has come in.

“We are finally feeling like we are in games and can be taking points.”

Butland thought Stoke deserved a win for their second-half performance on Saturday, and said it felt like a loss following the contest’s dramatic finale.

Having cancelled out Jose Izquierdo’s fine 32nd-minute goal through Xherdan Shaqiri’s strike in the 68th minute, the hosts had a golden chance to seal victory in the 90th as they were awarded a penalty.

There were heated exchanges over who would take it, with Jese Rodriguez, who had won the spot-kick, complaining in particularly animated fashion that it should be him, before fellow substitute Charlie Adam did so and saw his effort parried by Mathew Ryan.

Brighton’s Lewis Dunk swiftly made a challenge on Adam to take the loose ball away from the Scot, and there was then further frustration for Stoke as Mame Diouf had a header cleared off the line by Anthony Knockaert.

Butland also echoed Lambert’s comment that there is “not a blame culture” at the club as he said: “It does feel like a defeat.

“The effort and intensity and quality of football that we played in the second half warranted a win.

“We have created chances, but unfortunately not managed to take them, and the penalty was one of those things – sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don’t. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way.

“But we move on, we stick together. There is no blame culture, we just get on with it and we prepare for Leicester (away next Saturday).”

Dunk, like Brighton manager Chris Hughton, claimed the penalty award was “very soft”, and the defender admitted he thought his subsequent tackle on Adam was more of a foul.

Asked if he thought referee Bobby Madley had made the right decision to give the penalty, Dunk said on Brighton’s official website: “Never in a million years.

“I thought it was very soft, but the ref gave it and we had to deal with it. When he watches it back, it will be up to him to decide what he thinks of it.

“Maty then came to the rescue and saved it, and I don’t know (how) I got back to make the tackle! Maybe he (Adam) thought it was too easy and concentrated for too long. Luckily I got back and thankfully the referee didn’t give another penalty.

“I thought my challenge was more of a penalty than the one the referee gave, but thankfully he didn’t.”

Brighton, who have three more points than Stoke, were 13th after Saturday’s match.

Press Association

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