This Premier League 2015/16 season is as competitive as ever.
The ambitions that certain teams had at the beginning of the season don’t match the position they are in now, with some such as Leicester City being higher than they would have imagined and the likes of Everton feeling like they are underachieving.
Stoke City currently sit ninth in the standings, but form isn’t good and the games don’t get any easier as always in this division.
Monday’s 4-0 defeat to Spurs followed the 4-1 thrashing at Anfield, plus the loss of a two-nil lead with 20 minutes to go at home to Swansea City, which eventually ended 2-2.
Without doubt morale is low amongst players and supporters, and the fans seem to feel like the players are ‘on the beach’ and have their minds on the end of the season.
Let’s hope this isn’t true, because talking of August’s ambitions, a top 10 target could easily turn into a 13th or 14th placed finish if Stoke don’t pick some results up in the next month.
Next it’s Manchester City away on Saturday; then a very tricky home fixture against a Sunderland side desperate for points, and if there’s no victory in them two, then it would be five games without a win. Plus, if those below us pick up positive results, Stoke’s name could easily be next to a number in the lower half of the table.
I guess it depends if your glass is half full or half empty, but to the majority, this would be seen as a massive disappointment after two consecutive ninth place finishes and a few big money signings over the last year or so.
If you want to be fair to manager Mark Hughes, so many big name players have missed large parts of the season through injury.
Jack Butland, Ryan Shawcross, Glen Johnson and Jon Walters have all missed months rather than weeks throughout the campaign, and the likes of Glenn Whelan, Erik Pieters, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic have all struggled throughout the campaign.
It’s pretty hard to get a consistent run of results when you can’t get a consistent team on the pitch, and that’s something the manager has been unable to do this season.
I think the ambition for the rest of the season needs to be to try and maintain our current top 10 status, then sit down in the summer and assess what is needed to make the team even stronger next season.
As for the here and now, Man City don’t lose many games at the Etihad Stadium, making Saturday’s game as tricky as ever.
The Potters did manage three points there last season, but it would take some shift to repeat those efforts this time around.
Although City aren’t living up to their expectations this season, they can’t really slip up with those behind them creeping up to try and snatch their Champions League place.
With Stoke not really having anything to fight for, that plays even more into Manuel Pellegrini’s side’s hands.
I think the least Stoke fans will want tomorrow is a performance, something they have been rather deprived of in recent weeks.
The season is almost over, and despite missed opportunities this season, it’s important supporters are sent into the summer break in a positive mindset.