It has been a hugely disappointing start to the season for Stoke City, with the pressure already starting to build on manager Nathan Jones after two defeats in their opening two games of the campaign.
The Potters endured a massive underwhelming season last time out, with Gary Rowett being sacked halfway through the season after failing to put together any kind of promotion push whatsoever.
Jones left Luton and arrived at the Bet365 Stadium, but he has since struggled to steady the ship after a turbulent first half of the 2018/19 campaign.
Nevertheless, as they were last year, the Staffordshire outfit were heavily active in the summer transfer window, bringing in 10 new players who have all wined and dined with the very best in the Championship.
But after defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Charlton Athletic over the last couple of weeks, the Potters faithful are already beginning to lose patience with Jones, as they hope that this season doesn’t fail to deliver once again.
Ahead of Derby County’s visit this weekend, here, we take a look at three changes Jones should consider at Stoke…
A change in formation
You probably can’t blame Jones for wanting to stick with the diamond formation that served him so well during his time at Luton Town, but his players just don’t seem to be grasping the system at all.
Stoke have deployed a 4-1-2-1-2 system in their opening two games of the season, but they have looked far too narrow and compact with Joe Allen and Sam Clucas being used as wide central midfielders.
Stoke have so much talent in their wide areas, including the likes of Tom Ince and Mark Duffy, but Jones just isn’t getting the best out of his attacking players at present.
A new strike partnership
Saturday afternoon saw Aston Villa loanee Scott Hogan make his debut for Stoke, and partner Lee Gregory up front.
Hogan and Gregory are very similar centre-forwards – they both like to get in behind and exploit defenders with their pace, but they aren’t really known for their physical prowess up front.
Sam Vokes was an unused substitute at the weekend, and perhaps the experienced front-man should be used in a big-man little-man partnership from now on, in order to give Stoke a different dimension up top.
A defensive switch-up
Stoke have already conceded five goals this season, and most of them have been really poor goals to concede.
Against Charlton, they allowed Conor Gallagher to go unmarked in the box from a corner, and they also allowed Chuks Aneke to have all the time in the world in the box as he converted with ease.
They signed Liam Lindsay from Barnsley in the summer, and on paper, his partnership with Danny Batth should be one of the best in the division.
The game isn’t played on paper though, and whether it’s a change of formation or a change in personnel in defence, something needs to change.