Relaxed Steven Schumacher opens up on Stoke City's 'internal challenges' after relegation scare

Steven Schumacher admits the challenge he took on at Stoke City has probably been harder than he expected.
Steven Schumacher admits the challenge he took on at Stoke City has probably been harder than he expected. -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel

If Steven Schumacher has always tried to appear calm on the surface, he admitted that he sat in this week’s final pre-match press conference of the season in a significantly more relaxed mood than he probably has been for two or three months.

Stoke’s difficult season evolved into a slug out against relegation in what turned out to be one of the most frenetic relegation battles in Championship history. And the Championship is never quiet at the best of times.

They have ultimately pulled through it with a game to spare and the head coach hopes they can enjoy a final game without pressure, trying to go into the summer with a spring in their step and give a demonstration of how he wants his team to look in the long-term.

But it’s also time for retrospection and whether the scale of the challenge he took on back in December at Stoke, which had eaten up and spat out six managers in the previous six years.

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“I would probably say I knew it was going to be a challenge but it's probably been more difficult than I expected,” he said to Angela Smith. “I knew the size of the club I was coming into and what was expected but the internal challenges are the ones you don't see that obviously make it more difficult. So it's been harder than expected but I think we've overcome them or the majority of them. We've still got a lot of work to do over the summer that we feel is going to give us a better chance to do better next year.”

The key to that line is the point to it all being a work in progress, just like at full-time last weekend when he said he wouldn’t be celebrating survival.

But it’s not a few months to pretend didn’t happen, rather an experience that he is sure will stand him – and with it Stoke – in good stead for the future.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I wouldn't have had to deal with half the things I've dealt with if I'd stayed at Argyle for another three or four years because the situations just weren't there. Here it's different. That learning and that experience will only make me stronger in the long run.”

Injury news in brief

Lynden Gooch is back in training after a hamstring injury and Mehdi Leris is well again after illness.

But Niall Ennis is ruled out with a stiff knee and Sead Haksabanovic won’t make it due to a groin problem. The final game has come too soon for Ben Pearson (hamstring) and Ryan Mmaee (hamstring) too.

Happy 40th Steven Schumacher

A big week for Stoke has seen the head coach pass a personal milestone, turning 40 on Tuesday.

“It was (a bit more relaxed thanks to the win last weekend),” he said. “It was a little bit more enjoyable. If we had needed a big result coming into this weekend then my 40th birthday would have been the last thing on my mind. As it was, I was able to enjoy a glass of red wine and a meal on Tuesday night with my family.”

Just the one, asked Angela?

“Just the one,” he insisted. Maybe there’ll be time for another one if Stoke make it three wins on the spin on Saturday..

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