Despite real optimism coming from their most recent results, there’s no getting away from the fact that it has been another dismal campaign for Stoke City.
Nathan Jones was given a full summer to bring his own players in and reshape the squad left at his disposal by Gary Rowett, but too many second chances led to him losing his job in early November.
Michael O’Neill came in as Jones’ replacement, and the former Northern Ireland boss has tried his best to steady the ship at the bet365 Stadium, and this has been the effect to some extent.
The 50-year-old won 10 out of 23 games in charge of the Staffordshire outfit, steering his side up to 17th in the Championship standings and steering clear of the threat of relegation for now.
But in what was a hugely competitive relegation battle, Stoke sit only three points clear of the drop zone, with seven teams all below them in the league table.
O’Neill wasted no time in ringing the changes upon his arrival before January, with the likes of Badou N’Diaye and Peter Etebo both leaving the club amongst others.
You would expect him to do the same in the summer, regardless of whether the Staffordshire club find themselves playing in the second or third tier.
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One player whose future looks uncertain at Stoke is Lee Gregory, with the striker dividing opinions since being brought in by Jones from Millwall in the summer.
The experienced frontman has scored only one goal since O’Neill came in, and has fallen behind both Sam Vokes and Tyrese Campbell in the pecking order at the bet365 Stadium.
For Gregory, this could be the first time in four seasons that he hasn’t managed to hit double figures, which is quite an impressive stat given that Millwall were languishing towards the bottom-half for the large part of his time at the Den.
Things haven’t really worked out for him this season, but has it worked out for anyone at Stoke? The likes of Tom Ince, Vokes and Sam Clucas have flattered to deceive at times, and it’s only really Tyrese Campbell who has pulled up trees.
A player like Gregory, who offers so much movement and work-rate in every area of the pitch, shouldn’t be written off after what has been an underwhelming campaign thus far.
The 31-year-old is a versatile player who can lead the line on his own, or play in a two, which makes him a very useful option for O’Neill as he looks to get his feet properly under the table next term.
If the worst does happen, as well, then Gregory is a proven scorer at League One who has been there and done it in the Championship, too.