Gary Rowett is in for a testing campaign at Stoke City
Now in charge of Stoke City, Gary Rowett is well aware of the challenge ahead. The Potters compensated Derby for his services to the tune of £1.8 million. What does the future hold for the new boss?
Rowett began his managerial career at Burton Albion before moving to Birmingham. He lifted the Blues from relegation trouble to mid-table stability. Upon joining Derby, he directed the Rams to a playoff place before they bowed out against Fulham in the semifinals.
During his seven-year career, Rowett has showcased his managing skills, but his biggest task comes with the Potters next season. After failing to survive in England's top tier, they'll be aiming for an immediate return. The erstwhile Derby boss also has his personal goals. Which lower-tier boss wouldn't want to be a Premier League manager? With their goals aligned, Rowett can be confident in focusing on his plans for the summer and season ahead.
Many Derby fans accused Rowett of playing "boring" football. He was a defender for the club, so they should know. Mostly, their ire is rooted in the sluggish second half during which the club suffered more defeats than earlier in the campaign.
Rowett allegedly has the largest transfer kitty in the Championship, this summer. It will be interesting to see how he handles such a big budget for the first time.
As is the case with a regime change, every player's future is in the new boss' hands. Ageing players and those with higher wages are most likely to exit. Odds are Jack Butland and Xherdan Shaqiri are seeking new clubs. Others could also sign for Premier League clubs.
Recruits will be key to Rowett's success. The right players are certainly needed in the long season to come. The Staffordshire-based side has been littered with problems for some time now. Striking options have been lacking and, Shaqiri aside, quality in midfield. Help is also needed on the wings.
There have been links to Derby forward Matej Vydra in the works, although nothing confirmed. The Czech mailed in 21 goals last season. It will take a big bid to shift from Derby to Stoke. As all managers do, Rowett will consider players from his former clubs. He'll also look for depth. Finding players will be easy with the transfer budget. Finding the right players will be the trick. Signing the wrong players has already steered the Potters in the wrong direction.
Without one for too long, Stoke fans will want a prolific goal scorer. Their last notable 10 goal-a-season man was Ricardo Fuller. He left the club in 2012. Peter Crouch is probably closest to the real thing but can't play regularly at 37.
The coming season will be Stoke's first Championship campaign in a decade. They stayed in the Premier League longer than anyone anticipated. Relegation is a reality check amidst their recent complacency. Immediate promotion is an intriguing challenge for Gary Rowett. His performance will reveal his true prowess as a manager.