Many would have had Stoke City down as one of the favourites to win promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking this season.
But their season hasn’t panned out as they thought it would, with a number of poor results seeing Nathan Jones’ side currently sit 17th in the Championship table.
Their demise will make surprising reading, with the majority of the squad they had in the top flight, still currently with the club this season.
One of those players is Mame Biram Diouf, who has revealed that his side have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship in an interview with Stoke on Trent Live.
“It is very tough. For me, it’s tougher than the Premier League because mostly it is physical and you always have to be prepared.
“Sometimes it is a battle and we were not ready for that and realise how difficult it was.”
But the 31-year-old is hoping that his side can stick together and learn from this surprising season, and is keen to move on from this difficult spell at the earliest of opportunities.
“We are all surprised where we are now, but that is part of the game. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down.
“We have to stick together, learn from it and move forward.”
Stoke host promotion chasing Aston Villa this weekend, where it gives Nathan Jones’ side the perfect opportunity to finish the rest of this year’s league campaign as strongly as possible.
I’m not surprised by his latest comments.
Stoke have been absolutely woeful this season, and I am stunned to see them closer to the relegation zone, than they are to the play-offs this season.
This should be a real wake-up call for a number of players in their squad.