Paul Lambert feels Stoke have managed to “sleepwalk” into trouble this season but has been encouraged by what he has seen from his players since he took charge at the club.
Having finished ninth in the Premier League three times with Mark Hughes as boss and then 13th, the Potters were 18th when the Welshman was sacked in January after five defeats in seven top-flight games.
Currently 19th, their record under Hughes’ successor Lambert so far shows a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield and a 0-0 draw with Watford at the bet365 Stadium, a 2-1 loss at Bournemouth and a 1-1 home draw with Brighton.
Next up is Saturday’s match at Leicester, and Lambert said ahead of the contest: “From the start of the season, I don’t think anybody would have visualised the club being in the position it was in.
“But sometimes you can sleepwalk into things, and I think that’s what’s happened here.”
The Scot feels it has been “a pretty good start” to his tenure.
“If I’d come here at the start of the season and someone had said to me you’d only be beaten in one game at the start in four, I’d have took it,” he said.
“But because we’ve come in really late and tried to galvanise it and get it going, people look at is as we’ve only taken so many points.
“The reality is we’ve had a pretty decent start and I know we can win games.
“I think we deserved to to get something from Bournemouth, and against Brighton that penalty (Stoke had a 90th-minute penalty saved) is a big chance for three points.
“That would have made a big difference. But we’re in games, we look as if we can win games and we look as if we can really compete, which is really pleasing.
“For me, if we can keep the level we are at and have a wee bit of luck in front of goal, we can certainly win games. I’ve been delighted with the application, what they have given us.”
Stoke face a Leicester side currently lying eighth.
“We’ll go there and try to win,” Lambert said.
“We won’t go with any trepidation, or going to sit in. I know it will be a difficult game, but we have to cause them problems.
“The crowd have been brilliant since I have been here. I think if you ask any of them, at least we are trying to go on the front foot to win games and that won’t change.”
Stoke have 25 points from 27 games and are two points adrift of safety. They are only three points worse off than 13th-placed Newcastle.
When asked what points total he thought will be required this term for survival, Lambert said: “I think any other year you think 40 points is the mark, but this year I don’t think it is going to be anywhere near that.
“I’m not sure really, because of the way the league is. It’s a difficult one to predict, this one.”