After a dismal start to the season the pressure is beginning to mount on Stoke City manager Nathan Jones, who could be out of a job come Monday.
Times are dark if you’re a Stoke City fan. Once an established Premier League outfit, now a side five-points adrift of safety in the Championship. Their relegation to the Championship in 2018 was predictable but most believed that their stay in the Championship would be a short-lived one, and that they’d soon be a Premier League side again.
But things haven’t quite gone to plan. Gary Rowett was brought into The Bet 365 Stadium at the start of last season and oversaw the expenditure of £50 million on summer signings. Those signings, Stoke fans will tell you, did not live up to their price tags and after Rowett was sacked in January this year, Luton’s Nathan Jones came in to finish the season 16th and with 22 draws – a record number for this level.
For all the money spent on the squad last season, there were simply too many null performances. For a squad that contains the talent that Stoke’s does – former England goalkeeper Jack Butland, Joe Allen, Sam Clucas and so on, you get the impression that Stoke is simply a club that is severely underperforming.
Critics were quick to suggest that Stoke were expecting an easy ride in the Championship last season. With all their big names and earners at the club, there was a recognisable sense of complacency amongst certain players last season and a feeling that they thought they were ‘too good’ for the English second tier.
Jones’ Last Chance?
Stoke City now faces a dilemma in sticking with Nathan Jones as manager, or looking for his replacement before it potentially becomes too late.
After it was announced that Jones would not take part in the club’s press conference this morning for their game against Nottingham Forest tomorrow, fans are speculating about what this could mean.
A front-runner for Jones’ job, should he lose it, is former Forest player and manager Martin O’Neill. The Irishman and his compadre Roy Keane managed just 19 games for Forest last season, before both were hastily shown the door at the end of the campaign.
Another name being mentioned by the bookies is Chris Hughton. Hughton is one of the sport’s most likeable people and would surely go down well with Stoke fans given his managerial pedigree at Championship level as well.
Without a win from their opening eight games of the season, Stoke City are a club in trouble, and Nathan Jones is a man under the spotlight. Should things not go accordingly on Friday night then we could see yet another fresh face in the Potters’ hot seat by Monday, and it could well be a familiar face.