CLUB WATCH – STOKE CITY


Throughout the season, i’m going to be looking at clubs across Top100. There will be critique, criticism, plaudits, it could be your club that gets the once over, this week a take a closer look at Stoke City.

Seb C has been in charge at Stoke for 228 games, and embarks on his 6th season in control on the back of a relegation from Division 1.

228 games is a decent stint for any manager, and last season avoiding relegation always seemed a tough task on paper. Could more have been done? Did Seb do enough in the transfer market to upset the odds?

In season 16 Stoke very much over achieved with a very respectable 12th place finish in their first season in Division 1, especially as they came up through the play-offs the season before. All four sides who were promoted from season 15 stayed up and all achieved credible mid-table finishes. Whilst the other sides who came up with Stoke have kicked on, Stoke have not had the same impact after that first season in division 1. Season 17 was simply not good enough, some key players were sold, with it being very debatable if their replacements were better either short or long term. Players like De Paul, Merino were sold, but their replacements have not hit the heights. The glaring need for a striker was not addressed and with it any hope of staying up was gone.

Top100 has shown, if you are busy you can change the fortunes of your club, going into season 18 now as a division 2 team, that need for a striker has still not been addressed, transfer activity has again been minimal with only 88 rated Boga added to the squad.

Overachieved is a word banded about a lot, but there comes a time, when time progresses that suddenly becomes a tag rather than a reality. All managers have it in their power to address weaknesses in their team. Stoke is not a side who has been without assets, and still has some, but after studying the activity, the value recieved for those assets, then Stoke City’s relegation could and should of been avoided.

Seb has been re-appointed for this season, and anything less than promotion will be failure, but failure which can be pointed at the manager. From the outside looking in you can see where improvement is needed, you can also see the tradeable players in the squad to adddress those areas. To date this close season its not happened, why? Only Seb can answer why that is?

Stoke are not littered with ageing players, but have quite a few now in the bracket of, is there enough improvement in them to be Division 1 players?

Contracts will no doubt come into play in the coming seasons, and all though 228 games counts for a lot, it cannot be time at the club that keeps you in a job. Seb has had some early success with Stoke, but the truth is, its stagnated over the last season or so, players are a little older, and stars have left to be replaced by inferior players.

Season 18 is a make or break season, and I will be watching with great interest in how serious Seb is, in making Stoke a top division 1 team, as will the board to determine if a new direction is needed.

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