With the reported £30million spent in the summer, and the Premier League pedigree of the squad, it was no surprise that many pundits were tipping Stoke City for an immediate and emphatic return to the Premier League. The reality though, has been drastically different.
Though never really faced with the threat of relegation, the Potters have spent the vast majority of the season in the bottom half of the table, with the man initially charged with delivering promotion already long since out of a job.
Gary Rowett was brought in to replace Paul Lambert in the dugout at the Bet365 Stadium in the summer, but by January, he himself was gone after just eight wins in 26 league games left the Potters some eight points off the playoffs, and fourteen short of the automatic promotion places.
It was clear right from Rowett’s departure that Stoke new exactly who they wanted to replace him, and just a day after the sacking, Nathan Jones was announced as the club’s latest manager.
Jones certainly had the pedigree Stoke were looking for in their quest for promotion, having guided Luton to promotion from League Two last season, and leaving The Hatters second in League One when he made the move north to Stoke, but since getting there, things haven’t exactly gone to plan for the Welshman.
With just two wins from eleven league games, that gap to the playoffs has grown to ten points, with Stoke continuing to look a long way from the side that many had expected them to be this season.
Given the ease with which sides can get stuck outside the Premier League once they drop out of the top tier, Stoke will be desperate not to become another one of those sides, and that can only be a concern for Jones.
In terms of points per game, Jones’ eleven from eleven is less than that of his predecessor, and given he was given half a season, Jones could well need a big finish to convince the Stoke hierarchy that he is still the man for the job next season. If not, he may well be wishing he’d never left Kenilworth Road in the first place.