Steven Schumacher shines spotlight on 'brutal' Championship baptism with Stoke City

Steven Schumacher says his introduction to Championship football with relegation-threatened Stoke City was brutal.

The Liverpool-born product of the Everton academy joined the Potters from Plymouth Argyle in December tasked with keeping them in the second tier. And it was a mission he managed to accomplish - but not without some almighty scares along the way.

In a wide-ranging interview posted on the Stoke City FC website, Schumacher admits his time at the club since replacing Alex Neil has been challenging.

He explained: “There have been things that I've not had to deal with before in my managerial career, so that was challenging. But it is all about learning, and that can only benefit you in the long run. I've learned to stay calm.”

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After an encouraging start to life at the bet365 Stadium, Schumacher then saw Stoke’s form nosedive, and at one point they dropped into the Championship relegation zone and looked a decent bet to go down. But some tactical tweaks and the return of key players from injury saw Stoke lose just one of their final eight games to ensure survival.

Schumacher added: “I was really pleased with the run in. I feel as though we picked up some really big results and at important times.

“It obviously got really close down the bottom end of the division. There were so many teams down there that got into good form, so it was a little bit more scary than what we wanted it to be.

“But I think for us to pick up 21 points from the last 12 games was really pleasing. And we played well in that time and against some difficult opposition, and no more so than a 4-0 victory at home on the final day [over Bristol City] and in our performance before that, against Plymouth Argyle [3-0].”

However, reflecting on the tougher times, he added: “I've known all along that people were going to say that the Championship was brutal. It was my first experience of the Championship, and yes, it was brutal at times.

“You can go for periods of fixtures where you don't manage to get results, when you don't pick up any points. There was only [promoted] Ipswich this year that didn't lose back-to-back games, so I've learned that even when you're having a tough run like we did - we lost six out of seven - try to stay calm and keep focused on what you're trying to do.

“That’s because there were games in that run that could have been different. I'm thinking of the Birmingham City game at home, even the Cardiff game away from home - we should have won that game or at least got something from it.

“So in them tough moments, you have to try to stay calm and keep believing in what you're doing. You have to try and stay positive because this league is brutal.”

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