Stoke City’s third consecutive ninth-placed finish last season must be seen as “progress” says former defender Rory Delap.
The Potters’ 51 points was their second-highest return since they got promoted to the Premier League for the 2008-09 campaign.
“It’s given them more experience and next season, hopefully, they can finish it off.”
Stoke, who also reached the semi-finals of the League Cup last season, sealed another top-10 finish thanks to a last-day victory over West Ham – a result that ended a six-game winless run.
And without that spell of poor form, Delap is sure things could have been even better.
“They could’ve possibly finished sixth or seventh – it’s got to be seen as progress, they’ve given themselves a chance,” Delap said.
“When I was there, we’d have five good results and then five horrendous ones and we couldn’t break that – everyone would be high for a month and then on the floor for a month – it was so inconsistent.
“But, apart from that little period at the end, they’ve shown consistency – they just had some injuries.”
‘Players we did not think we’d ever see at the Britannia’
The Potters’ success has been helped by significant financial investment with the likes of Switzerland winger Xherdan Shaqiri and record signing Giannelli Imbula arriving at the Britannia Stadium.
Netherlands winger Ibrahim Afellay was one of four former Barcelona players to sign, while Austria forward Marko Arnautovic had his most productive season with 12 goals.
Delap is impressed with the recruitment at his old club and thinks manager Mark Hughes has a squad that can get even better.
“He (Hughes) has a good mix there with some of the old heads like Ryan [Shawcross], Glenn [Whelan] and Walts (Jon Walters) and some of the players he’s brought in,” Delap added.
“The new faces are ones that no-one thought they’d see playing at the Britannia.
“One or two more signings in the summer will really help.”