New Stoke boss Paul Lambert regards the club’s remaining Premier League fixtures this season as “15 cup finals”.
The Potters head into Saturday’s home clash against Huddersfield, their first match with Lambert in charge, lying 18th in the table, a point adrift of safety.
They have lost six of their previous eight league games, won five out of 23 all season and conceded 50 goals, more than any other club in the division.
Lambert, appointed as successor to the sacked Mark Hughes on Monday, said: “It’s like 15 cup finals, and I think there’s a number of teams who will be saying the same.
“But the way the table is at the moment, one or two wins takes you up there.
“Everything that happened before I came in is, as far as I’m concerned, finished. We draw a line under it, move on and try to get back to winning ways.
“I’m pretty sure the atmosphere will be rocking on Saturday, but we have to give the fans something. There’s no point us turning up and being lame and letting the fans carry us.”
Lambert arrived at Stoke having not managed in the Premier League since February 2015, when he was sacked by Aston Villa with them 18th in the table.
Villa had ended up 15th in each of their two previous seasons under the Scot, whom they appointed in 2012 after he guided Norwich to back-to-back promotions and then a 12th-placed top-flight finish.
When Lambert was asked ahead of the Huddersfield game if he saw his current role as another big chance to prove himself in the Premier League, he said: “I don’t have to prove myself, I really don’t.
“This is not new to me – I was in it for nearly four years, which is longer than some.
“But it’s not about me. I’ll do everything I can, but the fans and the players are the most important people at the club, and I think if we can get them bouncing off each other we’ll have a better chance of winning.”
Lambert’s new job has reunited him with Stoke midfielder Stephen Ireland, who last time out made just his second appearance since breaking his leg in May 2016.
The pair were at Villa together and Ireland did not make an appearance for the club from January 2013 onwards, subsequently moving on to Stoke in September that year.
He was quoted on Wednesday by the Sentinel as saying “I don’t think there are any grudges felt from any party”, and Lambert has reiterated he “never had a problem” with Ireland.
“As I said, I never had a problem with Stephen at Aston Villa. Never once any cross word or anything. It’s just football moves on like that,” Lambert said.
“I know he’s a real talent. You just have to watch you don’t over-burn him because he’s been a long time out. But everybody will get a chance.
“He can make things happen. He just needs probably a little bit more fitness, which will come.”