Stoke manager Mark Hughes hailed his side’s achievement after securing the club’s record Premier League points tally and insisted he will push for further improvements next season.
Stoke reached 51 points in a Premier League campaign for the first time with a 0-0 draw at Burnley, and Hughes expressed pride at achieving back-to-back finishes in the top half of the table.
He said: “We’re delighted and it’s a huge effort from everybody this year. We got 50 points last year – ninth position – but we’ve had to work harder this year for it.
“We’ve had more injuries to key personnel and we’ve come through as a group and been really strong.”
He added: “Back-to-back top-10 finishes is something this club hasn’t done for 40-odd years. It’s a real achievement and something we’re all very proud of, but next year we’ll try and test them again and do better if we can.”
Hughes had words of praise for captain Ryan Shawcross, who was a surprise inclusion at Turf Moor after making a late recovery from a knee injury.
The Stoke boss added: “I told everybody at the press conference that Ryan wasn’t playing because that’s what I’d been told, but lo-and-behold, I turn up at training after the press conference and he’s putting his hand up to play.
“I think that shows the leadership that he has and his desire to be part of what we’re doing.
“I thought he was excellent today. He had to be resolute in his defending and I thought he did that all day long. It was a really big performance from him when we needed him.”