Wednesday 25 April 2018

New Stoke boss Lambert hails players and fans after winning start

Goals from Joe Allen and Mame Diouf earned a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.

Stoke City v Huddersfield Town – Premier League – bet365 Stadium
Stoke City v Huddersfield Town – Premier League – bet365 Stadium

By Sean Taylor, Press Association Sport

Paul Lambert believes the harmony between his Stoke players and the supporters could hold the key to Premier League survival.

Lambert made a winning start as manager as a 2-0 home victory against Huddersfield saw them climb out of the relegation zone.

The former Wolves and Aston Villa boss had only had this week to work with his players but he had visibly lifted them and on Saturday Stoke did not look like a team who had been beaten on eight of their last 11 Premier League outings.

Roared on by a crowd fuelled with optimism, Stoke started brightly but they had to wait until the second half for the goals to come as Joe Allen and then Mame Diouf got their names on the scoresheet.

At times the bet365 Stadium was bouncing and chants of “we are staying up” echoed around the ground towards the end of the match.

“I’m delighted for the players and supporters, that was my main concern,” said Lambert.

“From the moment I came to the club, it was about the supporters and the players and they bounced off each other today. You can’t hear yourself shout at times.

“If they (players and fans) stick together and we play that way, we might not win every game, but if we keep that level of intensity, we will be fine. I thought we were outstanding in the second half.”

Ryan Shawcross and Erik Pieters made their returns from injury to shore up a Stoke defence which has conceded 50 Premier League goals so far this season.

They played their part in Stoke keeping only a third clean sheet of the campaign and their first since a 1-0 win at Watford on October 28.

“The back four were outstanding, I don’t think (Jack) Butland had a save to make,” said Lambert.

“It’s nice to get a clean sheet for the back lads but the most important thing was the team working harder than we have been.

“They had to get at it and if we had won 2-1, 3-1, and conceded, so be it. But the clean sheet is pleasing, of course.”

It was Lambert’s first game back in management for almost eight months and his first in the Premier League for nearly two years.

The Scot had been very animated on the touchline for much of the match and when asked what it was like to be back, he joked: “Terrible. I’m tired. I’d forgotten what it was actually like.

“You sometimes wonder why you come back in, I was enjoying my life last weekend, but it’s for this – the atmosphere today was outstanding.”

Huddersfield offered very little as an attacking threat and are now without a win in six Premier League matches, a run which has seen them slip to within three points of the relegation zone.

“It was difficult today. They were able to take the atmosphere from the stands, Stoke and their supporters were really on it,” said Huddersfield boss David Wagner.

“We were not able to create chances but it shouldn’t be a surprise as Stoke are a top quality side and they showed that with the second goal with the one-touch football they played.

“I have to accept where we are in the table. It’s only us who can change it.”

Press Association

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