Paul Lambert appointed as Stoke City manager
Paul Lambert will take charge of Stoke City after a ten-month break from managing. After rejections from Quique Sanchez Flores and Martin O'Neill, Chairman Peter Coates and son John finally found a man willing to take on the challenge.
While it was rumoured the Potters' board were keen to sign a British manager rather than foreign, they did make more than one offer to Sanchez. The Spaniard is very comfortable at Espanyol. He may have viewed Stoke as a step down.
Paul Lambert took the opportunity to help a club in great danger. The Scotsman has knowledge of Stoke City as he managed Norwich City against them in the Premier League a few seasons ago. Lambert is familiar with the top English tier as well as most players already at Stoke. Such experience would have been difficult to find in a foreign manager given Flores wasn't interested.
Lambert began his managerial career in 2005 for Scottish side Livingston. In 2006 he moved to England with Wycombe Wanderers. He made the League Cup semi-final and League Two playoffs in 2008. Moving onto League One Colchester he finished in a mid-table position during the 2008-09 campaign.
Norwich City beckoned not long after. In April 2010 Lambert led the Canaries to the League One title. The following season he guided Norwich into the Premier League. He then just managed to keep them up in 2011-12.
He took the Aston Villa job under great expectations. He guided Villa to a 15th-place finish with the youngest starting eleven in the Premier League. The following season it was a repeat. Fans felt the club was heading backwards. Lambert lasted another half-season before parting ways with the club.
Blackburn Rovers was his next destination in the Championship. He guaranteed their safety during the 2015-16 season finishing a now familiar 15th. A contract clause allowed him to step down to head Wolverhampton Wanderers. The West Midlands side were struggling in 19th. Lambert lifted them to his increasingly customary 15th. While not an astounding one, it was an improvement. Surely Stoke would be happy to finish 15th this season.
While it will certainly be interesting to see how he deals with players already at the club, he also has a new addition waiting. Moritz Bauer debuted in the 3-0 Monday Night Football defeat to Manchester United while the new boss looked on. The fleet Swiss right back arrived from Russian side Rubin Kazan. He was active but needed help dealing with Anthony Martial and the overlapping Luke Shaw. Peter Coates is not one to overspend on players but the deal has set a precedent to allow Lambert to add a player or two.
The Potters are now without a win in four games. They've lost the last three. Lambert's biggest problem will be the 50 goals conceded in just 23 games. No team is going to collect results conceding more than two goals per game.
The Scot's first game in charge is against Huddersfield at the Bet365. Lambert has four days to prepare. Mark Hughes had lost the ability to motivate his squad. Lambert can light a fire under players. If he is to save Stoke City from relegation the hard work and planning begins now. On Saturday Potters fans will have the first opportunity to judge whether he was the right choice.