Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has insisted that the Potters are going to have the ambition to challenge for promotion to the Premier League next term, despite them having to be cautious with their transfer business.
The Potters are set to face a pivotal summer transfer window where they will be needing to add the right sort of additions to their squad to help them progress on a solid, if unspectacular, campaign. O’Neill has already suggested that Stoke could face a real challenge in keeping hold of players like Nick Powell and offering them new deals until out of favour high earners move on.
It is therefore going to be important that the Potters use the money that they have wisely and that they also manage to move on a couple of players who are not in O’Neill’s long-term plans. To that end, Kevin Wimmer has recently spoken out about his desire to try and find a permanent move away from the Bet365 Stadium this summer.
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Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill insisted that whilst Stoke will not have the sort of funds to go out and bring in players for big money fees like Brentford did with Ivan Toney last summer, the ambition will still be for them to overcome that and challenge for promotion.
He said: “If you look at the clubs who will come down, there is a lot of spending power at those clubs to bring players in.
“If you look at where we’ve spent money, we’ve brought free agents to the club and have only bought three young players who we believe are assets. We won’t be in the market to buy an Ivan Toney or a Jordan Hugill as Norwich did at this minute in time. We have to go through another process of probably 12 months.
“It doesn’t mean we can’t be competitive in the league and that we can’t have aspirations. Of course we have aspirations of promotion.
“There are things there that make it difficult for us but they are not things that we can’t overcome.”
It is going to be a crucial summer for the Potters and O’Neill knows that the squad at the moment is a bit short in a couple of positions in terms of having enough to challenge for the top-six. That has shown with some of the inconsistent spells they have had this term and some of the frustrating results they have had at ley moments in the season.
O’Neill though has shown he can build his side into one that is capable of being competitive against anyone in the division when they are at their best. While there is also a very solid base for them to build from given the amount of clean sheets they have managed to keep throughout the campaign.
It will be a major challenge to find the right quality on their budget, especially when there will be clubs coming down from the Premier League that will have much more spending power. However, he is right to be targeting promotion and that has to be the aim for the Potters who have been out of the top-flight already for a couple of years now.