Monday, December 10, 2018

Stoke’s relegation has been coming for a while

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 8 May 2018

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On Saturday afternoon, Stoke City suffered relegation from the Premier League after a 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace. The defeat means that the Potters ten-year stay in the English top-flight will end this weekend.

Two bosses in Mark Hughes and Paul Lambert have failed to produce good enough results to keep the Potters in the top-flight.

For some, it is a surprise. However, Stoke has been sailing very close to the wind in recent seasons when it comes to beating relegation. A number of times the team from Staffordshire have endured terrible runs of form, usually at the start of the season, only to avoid the drop.

However, their luck has finally run out this season and they will be playing in the Championship next season.

Overachieving for the clubs size

The Potters decade-long stay in the Premier League is quite remarkable in the clubs modern history, as previously the Potters had bounced from top-flight to second tier and even the third tier at one point.

In terms of the size of the club, they are a relatively small club in history and stature compared to a number of their rivals in the Premier League. The Potters also do not have a big history of winning trophies, just one major trophy, the League Cup back in 1972.

Many ways the Potters have overachieved in recent seasons by becoming an established top-flight club. When it comes to fans the potters have so many clubs to compete with in the north west area, so their fanbase may not be as big as some of their more illustrious neighbours.

Poor recruitment has cost them

Poor recent recruitment has cost the Staffordshire outfit. England and Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland described the Potters recent recruitment as ‘farcical’, which may be slightly harsh, but it has not been good, though.

The 25-year-old has talked about the club signing players ‘that you cannot rely on’. That statement suggests that the Potters have not done their homework on the characters of the players they are signing.

The likes of Ibrahim Afellay, Saido Berahino, Giannelli Imbula and Jese have all struggled to make an impact at the club. Afellay has been banished from the club by Lambert, while Imbula moved to Toulouse last summer on loan after a £18million move from Porto. Then there is Spanish forward Bojan, who joined Alaves on loan last summer, despite being a cult hero at the club.

The poorest piece of recruitment for me was boss Paul Lambert. The Scot came in January and has won just once in 14 games in charge of the Potters. That is truly an awful record.

The squad may have been fractured when he arrived, but surely the team should have picked up more than just one win. When he arrived, the team were in peril, now they are in a complete mess. In fact, the Potters are now odds of 1/6 to finish bottom of the table this season.

There is now major speculation over whether the Scot will be the Stoke boss next season. If this season is anything to go by, he should not be.

Mass exodus this summer

Relegation always means a mass exodus of players and that is inevitable. The few decent assets they have like Butland and Xherdan Shaqiri will be majorly in-demand this summer.

Butland is one of the most highly-rated young English goalkeepers, while Shaqiri on his day is top class. Both did their best to keep Stoke in the Premier League, they just did not have enough quality or support around them.

Some of the other Stoke players may still end up playing top-flight football somewhere in Europe next season. However, I doubt there will be a major queue for many of those currently under contract in the Potteries.

The whole situation at the Potters is a complete mess. However, you cannot say that this hasn’t been coming due to poor management and poor recruitment for the last few years.

With the Championship so competitive, it could be a good few years before we see Stoke back in the Premier League, especially if Lambert is still in charge of the team.

Who is responsible for the situation at Stoke?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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