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O'Neill: I teach Potters to grow with the throw.

Byline: Neil Moxley exclusive

MICHAEL O'NEILL is dragging Stoke City up the Championship table not so much 'inch by inch' as throw-in by throw-in.

The former Northern Ireland boss is plotting the Potters' escape from danger at the foot of the division by zeroing in on their handiwork.

Stoke were bottom of the pile when O'Neill succeeded Nathan Jones four months ago.

And while they haven't entirely worked themselves free of danger, their plight is far less serious than it was when O'Neill (below) walked through the door at the bet365 Stadium.

ing He said: "I have looked at throw-ins, very particularly retaining possession from throw-ins, and not giving possession away.

"In themselves they are small things, but if you improve in those areas then they can add up to big improvements in your team.

"If you look at it from a statistics point of view, you will get a throw-in somewhere between 20 and 25 times.

"So there are 25 occasions when you are going to keep possession - or lose it.

"If you look at it like that, there could be an extra 100 passes that you have in a game if you retain possession.

"And if you can exploit teams on their defensive throw-ins, it gives you an opportunity to go and press them.

"For example, we were not happy when we played Millwall last month that their only chance of the game came from OUR throw-in.

"When we played Huddersfield, their freekick for the second goal they scored came from our throw too.

"Now, if you can improve in those areas"

This type of work is nothing new to the former Newcastle and Hibernian midfielder. He introduced it with success when he had the reins of Northern Ireland.

O'Neill, 50, added: "It was something we worked upon at international level because against the better teams you just can't squander the ball.

"But, for example, against the Germans and Dutch if you press the game properly in their defensive third it gives you chances to win the ball further up the pitch.

"It is easier to win the ball back off a throw-in rather than open play against those sides, because their players are so good on the ball.

again bep "We worked hard on it in international football when we played against the bigger nations.

in foo "Because they have better players, these sides might not put as much emphasis on that type of thing. Though I know, for instance, that Manchester City have had someone into coach them on throw-ins.

"You have to look at all aspects.

"If you look at the game in its entirety the ball is in play for about 57 to 60 minutes. So the rest of the time, you are looking at restarts.

"There will be throwins, free-kicks and goal kicks. That's one-third of the game.

"I don't think the players think like that. But if you are good at restarts, your possession will increase, your passes increase and your dominance increases.

"There's a few quick wins in there."

CAPTION(S):

EASY: Stoke's James McClean celebrates his goal in the 3-1 home win over Charlton yesterday

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Neil Moxley exclusive
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 9, 2020
Words:525
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