Five key quotes from Michael O'Neil following victory over Rotherham
James McClean celebrating his goal in Stoke City's 1-0 win against Rotherham United on the 31st October 2020 ((Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images).

A James McClean first-half strike was enough to see Stoke City beat Rotherham United 1-0 at the Bet365 Stadium on Saturday.

The result meant that the Potters rose to eighth in the Championship on 15 points - the same amount currently required to get into the play-off positions.

On bouncing back from Swansea defeat

After the game, Michael O’Neil revealed that he was pleased with his side’s reaction following the loss to Swansea City on Tuesday night.

We got a good reaction today, the important thing when you lose is to try everything to win the next game and we did that.

"It was a tough game for us. We had to deal with a team that wants to come and press you, wants to disrupt your play and they are good at it. They have stepped up to this division and done well.

“It was important for us to win the game, to get a clean sheet so the most important thing was the three points and we got them."

On McClean netting in consecutive home games

James McClean’s 27th minute strike was his second goal in the last two home games after netting in the 3-2 win over Brentford  - and O’Neil has been pleased with his performances since returning to the starting eleven.

I do not think he was in great form at the start of the season, and then the timing of the international break did not help him because he missed the last two games before coming in to the start of the season.

“The team had done well in preparation so he had to be patient, but since coming back into the team he has done well and good for him to get the goal, it was a good finish."

On Stoke's two upcoming fixtures

Next up on the horizon for Stoke is a trip to Watford on Wednesday night who sit in sixth on the same amount of points as the Potters.

Then next Saturday they make the trip to Reading who currently are four points clear at the top of the league on 22 points

When speaking on the prospect of these two games, O’Neil said:

Reading have made a very good start to the league.

"Watford are probably still adapting a little bit after dropping down into the Championship. So let’s take it as an opportunity to see where we are at."

On the transition since joining the club

In nine days time, it will mark the one year anniversary since O'Neil was announced as manager of the club and compared to where the club was when he took over to now, a lot has changed for the better.

When speaking on the transition of the Potters in that time period, the former Northern Ireland manager said “There are many factors that contribute to that.

"First of all, you have got to get enough players who will fight for each other and that the spirit is good within that group of players.

“That was the first situation, we had to get more players into the club and out of the squad. In pre-season it was important that we got in the right types of players, I think we have done that.

“Certainly character-wise they have all been excellent, and it is just consistent work on the training pitch.

"The players work hard and in terms of Championship form, we are in decent form going back from November of last year, but I think this year we are stronger as a squad.”

He continued: “Look at us today, with the players we have missing particularly with the experience of James Chester, Allen and Clucas.

"Look at Nathan Collins being out for us today, still Shawcross getting back, so there are a lot of positive things but we still have to continue to work hard.

“We have to keep pushing forward and certainly in the 12 months that we have come in, things are looking a lot healthier than they did this time last year."

On a different looking defence coping well

Ahead of the game, O’Neil had a lot of injuries on the defensive side of things to deal with as both James Chester and Nathan Collins were unavailable for the fixture through injury.

Therefore, Danny Batth was required to come in and Morgan Fox had to slot in at centre back as he did against Swansea, and despite this, the defence nullified and coped very well with the attacking force that the visitors provided them with.

When commenting on the matter, O’Neil said:

We have been very good in terms of keeping clean sheets in the early part of the season in the opening games.

"We have just had a run where we started conceding but the players and the work we have done with them during the week, we emphasized we need to get back to that.

“I think we have always got players capable of scoring and creating, even when we are not at our best in terms of the whole team and the style of play at times.

“If we can keep clean sheets and have that little bit of quality at the top end of the pitch that can be the difference.

"I think we have that, we have added to that this season with Fletcher coming in and Jacob Brown and with the players that we had here last season."

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