Our off the Pitch Failure Cannot Continue

Stoke are facing arguably the biggest summer the club have ever faced, and it is beyond doubt that the decisions taken between May and August will have long reaching consequences for us. Irrelevant of whether Stoke begin the season in the Premier League or Championship it will be a time of overhaul. The departures of Allen, Butland and Shaqiri are certain despite the outcome of our next 6 games.

Despite the great disappointment that this will be to the fans Stoke will be heavily compensated. In the current market it would not be surprising for the total figure of those threes sale to be closer to 100 million than to 50. This provides Stoke with a genuine chance to rebuild, and what an opportunity that may be when looking at the current side. The club is filled with players quite content to take their pay check whilst appearing to have genuinely little concern for the future of the club.

Charlie Adam is more concerned with building his career as a pundit. The ageing likes of Johnson, Ireland and Fletcher seem content to play little football as the club pumps money into their retirement funds. Afellay, Berahino and Wimmer all clearly aren’t prepared to train at the same levels as their pay warrants they do. Add into this the likes of Fletcher and Pieters, whose performances have been far from the levels required of Premier League footballers for some time and it is clear that a majority of the squad are players who need moving on.

This brings me to my main point, heads need to role to facilitate the sweeping change the club needs to maintain any hopes of continued existence, never mind success, in the Premier League.This week news broke revealing that both Hughes and Bowen had their sons employed by the club, quite literally jobs for the boys. Heads must turn to the board members responsible for allowing something like this to happen.

The board’s actions over the past 24 months have been nothing short of a complete and utter self-destruction. The same mentality that allowed coaches sons to be given cushy jobs is deeply rooted in the board and is costing the club. The same mentality that saw Coates ask what all the ‘fuss’ was about in December.

Wilful blindness to the considerable failings that Mark Hughes’ tenure had developed saw Stoke lose many things. First it was our place in the top half as we slumped to 13th, next it was the club’s best player as Arnautovic forced a move and it looks increasingly likely that the final thing we will lose is our place in the Premier League.

So the individuals responsible for these mistakes are not the ones who should be entrusted with what will be the biggest summer in the clubs recent history, especially one that requires such shrewd recruitment and rebuilding. The current Championship champions, Newcastle, and future champions in waiting, Wolves, have demonstrated how easy safe passage to the “promised land” of the Premier League. With a sensible strategy, a superb manager and substantial financial support both sides have made gaining promotion look effortless.

Currently it seems likely that Stoke are only going to have one of those three essential ingredients, the financial backing from the sales previously discussed. The sensible strategy needs to come from a change in the people on the board of the club, even if it only manages to freshen the ideas up.

This just leaves the superb manager, and that is not in any way shape or form Paul Lambert.  Lambert was always going to be a poor appointment. This is nothing against Paul he’s done the best job he could have done in the few months he’s been in charge, but his record speaks for itself.

1 win in 9 worse than the man who is going to be responsible for two Premier League relegations this season. Stoke need someone with a longer-term vision, someone who will come into the club with an idea of what he wants to achieve over a certain period of time.

This is perhaps the cause of Hughes’ failings, he was brought in to improve style. Nothing more than that and once he believed he had achieved this he dismantled all of his own work in the search of something more. Whilst someone like Graham Potter would be a clear risk, he is also a man with an idea on how to get the best out of the squad and it appears would be able to get the best from what is left.

There is certainly some promise in what will be left, provided we can keep hold of the youth prospects the side currently has coming through. Sorenson was the latest in a long list of teenagers to be included in a match day squad this season. And it is these exciting youth prospects who could be the basis of an immediate bounce back into the Premier League, should the worse come to the worse this season. Any manager who could come in and put faith in these players could be rewarded heavily as they develop.

The impending relegation Stoke face has been brought about by a complacency and inaction at board level. The problems have not suddenly appeared this season, they we’re clearly there for any willing to look hard enough. If this season is not to cripple the club then it is required that those responsible for the failings are not given a free pass. There must be an honest and brutal assessment of what has happened this season, and if the club is to recover then it appears changes must be made.

Written by Tom Thrower

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