Nathan Jones has recently been appointed boss of Stoke City, leaving Luton Town in the process.
He’s guided the Hatters to second place in League One, but now has the task of taking Stoke to the top six in the Championship. It was a somewhat surprising move, but a swift resolution to the Stoke vacancy.
Here, FLW Editor Sam Rourke asks our man Gary Hutchinson six questions about the move in a brand new feature: The Six Pointer.
1) Firstly, how would you sum up this appointment in just one word?
Bold. It’s a bold move by Stoke to go for a manager who hasn’t been tested outside the bottom two divisions. There’s a lot of pressure on them to find a way back into the Premier League.
They’ve spent big but the squad hasn’t got going, Jones will have to hit the ground running if he’s to be a success.
2) Is Jones the right man at the right time for Stoke City?
I’m not so sure it is the right time, his reputation has taken a bit of a hit from the Luton fans by the manner of his departure.
The right time would have been at the end of the season, but for a club dropping out of the top flight that isn’t entirely possible. they gambled on a quick return, splashing out on Afobe, Woods, Clucas and McClean.
Thus far, that hasn’t worked.
As to whether he’s the right man, I guess time will tell. It could be a master stroke and it’s nice to see a good lower league manager getting his chance.
3) Has Jones got the tactical capabilities to get this Stoke team operating as a unit better?
Tactically he’s very astute and has gained a reputation as a man who gets the best out of his players.
He refused to be swayed from his footballing philosophy in League Two which is why his side didn’t win the league. He wouldn’t mix it up and send it long against similarly minded teams.
He’ll have to be more flexible in the Championship, but there’s fewer spoiling teams. The pace of the division and the outlook of most of the participants lends itself to jones’ skills.
4) What areas of the Stoke team does Jones need to enhance this month in the transfer window?
They need a new centre forward, someone to complement Afobe. The big man hasn’t been performing to his capabilities and that is one of the reasons they’ve struggled. he commanded a huge fee but has only reaped six goals in return. That’s not enough.
They’ve also got to sort out the back four. Ryan Shawcross is coming to the end of his career and whilst they invested heavily in the middle of the park, they omitted to spend at the back. That’s come back to haunt them this season and Jones has to solve that issue quickly.
5) Which Stoke players should Jones try offload this month?
Charlie Adam has certainly outstayed his welcome and would be a wise one to move along quickly. Ashley Williams was a relatively big name signing, but if I were Jones I’d be keen to see him side lined or moved on. He’s certainly well past his best.
The list goes on. Mame Diouf hasn’t been effective at all, Darren Fletcher and Peter Crouch are yesterday’s men and even Saido Berahino is on shaky ground. There’s a lot to do, that’s for sure.
6) What mistakes must Jones avoid whilst at the helm at the Bet365 Stadium?
Omitting Bojan is one. The midfielder is a popular figure with the fans and he’s been marginalised by the previous manager. Leave him out and they’re making the same mistake as before.
There’s also going to be a temptation to recruit from the division below, but he must do that with caution. Paul Hurst brought in a lot of players he knew and thought could make the jump, but it backfired and he’s now out of work.
Jones can recruit one from League One, maybe two at a push, but Stoke are a big side with a budget far in excess of what he’s used to. he has to manage that wisely, unlike his predecessor.
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