‘Yeah, but who do we bring in?’

This question seems to be the strongest thread preventing the trap door from falling under Mark Hughes. Initially it appears to be a valid question, the market is not currently swarming with clear choices to come in and take control of Stoke. But with some deeper thought there is a wealth of targets that Mr. Coates can pursue should he finally lose patience with a manager blaming the wind for defeats. I’ve decided to put these options into a few different categories and will pick a most likely option from each to discuss in a little bit more detail.

The ‘God’ Tier

Some Names: Thomas Tuchel, Carlo Ancelotti, Roger Schmidt, Luis Enrique

Most Likely? None of them

Stoke trying to tie down one of these managers would be the equivalent of asking a girl out at school only for her response to be “who are you again?” Any attempt is likely to end in failure, but what’s the harm in asking? Schmidt would be the most likely candidate but that is still only a slim chance.

The former Leverkusen manager constructed a tough squad, in a 442, that scored goals and played at pace, something that would go down well in SoT. He is currently managing in China and with their season coming to a close, and his side struggling to perform, he could well be heading back to Europe in the winter.

The Old ‘Reliables’

Some Names: Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes

Most Likely? Big Sam

Yeah, not many of these candidates are really reliable, but they are the names that yer da will bat around so let’s have a quick discussion. Pardew and Moyes would be likely to put undue strain on the North Staffs Cardiac department, so the only candidate to take seriously is the *redacted* taking, pints of *redacted* guzzling, Big Sam Allardyce.

Big Sam would be likely to save the side should our slump be allowed to continue any longer. But questions will linger over whether the squad is the kind that Allardyce would be able to get enough out of, and he seems to be lacking a love for the game which could leave Stoke in the lurch much like Palace we’re earlier this year.

The “Oh yeah, I remember him”s

Some Names: Frank de Boer, Claude Puel, Aitor Karanka

Most Likely? Claude Puel

Yeah you remember these lot, they have all been sacked in 2017 at some point, so not off to the best of starts. But there is something to each of them. Karanka could solid up what is currently the worst defence in the league. De Boer’s near suicidal passing system could thrive in a side more accustomed to this style of football. Yet the most intriguing option here is Southampton’s former boss Puel.

Sacked for a lack of goals and entertainment, Puel actually achieved quite a lot with the Saints last season. An 8th placed finish and Cup final are things that only the most delusional Stoke fan could currently dream of. And the issue with a lack of goals seems to transcend Puel, as current manager Pellegrino is struggling with the same issue. Puel wouldn’t reinvent the wheel, but more likely than not he would make them roll in unison again.

The Former Players

Some Names: Patrick Vieira, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville

Most Likely? MNF hit squad (Nev and Carragher)

Okay so a double team of Neville and Carragher isn’t very likely at all, but come on, imagine how much fun it would be, we’d have two hour daily slots on Sky Sports News. Giggs seems to be lingering in the background of any availability in the league now, and perhaps he could finally convince an owner to trust him.

Vieira meanwhile is a pipe dream of my own. The former Arsenal man is currently at New York City FC, and with the MLS season over he may finally be convinced to come and prove his worth in Europe. Stoke may be the perfect side for him to show what he is capable of, and there’s some other stuff about turning a record signing into a mythical sea creature.

The Others

Some Names: Slavisa Jokanovic, Gary Rowett, Rafa Benitez

Most Likely? Jokanovic

Sorry I ran out of awful names to give the categories, and these are the left overs. Appointing Rowett would probably see the Soccer Saturday lads insatiably foam at the mouth, culminating in Paul Merson admitting his deepest darkest secrets. Rafa would be an excellent appointment if full control and stability was enough to prize him away from the up for sale Newcastle.

Jokanovic is currently doing an excellent job with developing youth players at Fulham. A run to the play offs last season has not quite been emulated so far this season as Fulham sit 11th, but their style is entertaining and high energy. There is a history of tension between the Serbian and Fulham’s board, perhaps this could be enough to prize them apart and see Jokanovic come in to Stoke.

Bonus Ball: Potter a Potter? 

Graham Potter made 45 appearances for Stoke between 1993 and 1996. So what is he up to now? He is in charge of Östersunds FK, a Swedish club. “That doesn’t seem very impressive” I hear you say. Well, you’re wrong. When Potter took over the side in 2011 they were in the third tier of Swedish football, they are currently in the Allsvenskan (the top tier of Swedish football), so that’s three promotions in five seasons if you are counting. But wait there is more.

In their first season in the Allsvenskan they qualified for the preliminary stages of the Europa League. They have managed to reach the group stage, dismissing prestigious sides PAOK and Galatasaray in the process. They sit top of said group, undefeated, despite it containing Hertha Berlin and Atheltic Bilbao. This is nothing short of a footballing miracle, that has all been orchestrated by Potter. Prizing him away from the Swedish side may be a struggle, but if Stoke don’t then another side will and it is likely they will reap the rewards.


So there you go, hopefully this is some ammunition for the next time someone poses to you the who do we bring in question. And maybe it has even made a point to those in power at the club.

Written by Tom Thrower

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