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Will Nathan Jones remain at Stoke City?

Saturday 5th October 2019
Stoke City's board expressed support for their winless manager but how long can Nathan Jones rely on their word?
Stoke City's board expressed support for their winless manager but how long can Nathan Jones rely on their word?

Stoke City began the 2019/20 Championship season terribly. They need radical changes to avoid falling into League One next season. It’s clear that their current manager Nathan Jones is not the right man to take the club forward. Another bad result away against Swansea City may ultimately seal his fate despite the board's denials.

Jones isn't getting anything near the best out of his squad. They have not won any of their opening 11 games. Summer signings struggling to settle and poor form all around is exacerbated by inconsistent team selection and tactics. The side lacks stability due to an unreliable defence and poor midfield. An experienced head coach is required urgently to sharpen up the backline.

Ryan Shawcross' absence has hit the Potters hard. His return from injury would cheer up the fan base considerably. However, he isn't expected back until Christmas. Replacements Cameron Carter- Vickers and Danny Batth don't impress.

The squad has sufficient quality to compete in the Championship; it's just not producing. Summer signing Nick Powell has yet to create or score chances. Former Premier Leaguers Tom Ince, Sam Clucas and Sam Vokes aren't doing any better. Jones can't seem to motivate anyone. Fans aren’t even sure why he remains at the club. He is clearly out of his depth.

The question is whether a new taskmaster can elicit a response from the players. Their confidence will continue to plummet the more this losing streak persists. Upcoming matches against Swansea, Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday wouldn't be easy under the best conditions. Picking up points against any of the three is unlikely in Stoke's current state.

Tactically, if Jones switches to a 4-2-3-1, he can get more out of Powell with Ince and Clucas cutting in from the wings. Only Barnsley [7] and Millwall [8] have scored fewer goals to date although Huddersfield, Wigan and Brentford join the Bet365 crew on nine goals. Widening their play may force opposing defences to spread thinner, offering a better chance to put the ball in the net.

Owner Peter Coates needs positive results to keep the side in the second tier. To achieve them, he needs a new man in the dugout. Nor is he short of reputable candidates.

Former boss Tony Pulis, Ireland gaffer Mick McCarthy and Chris Hughton have all been touted by the oddsmakers. Recently departed Millwall boss, Neill Harris could also be considered.

Pulis would be a surprise returnee but would be welcomed back for a third spell in charge. His defensive know-how will plug the leaks in a rearguard that is three goals worse than the next woeful side, Huddersfield. That ability is the foundation of his reputation as a survival specialist. His playing style is as exciting as grinding teeth but it spits out needed results.

McCarthy is a long shot. He's stated his commitment to the ROI through Euro 2020.

The problem with both men is the current squad is built to create chances. Such players disappear when Pulis or McCarthy show up. Hughton is slightly more enterprising but, reportedly, he too has already rejected the club's advances.

Unless the board is prepared to gamble on a less-proven commodity, Jones' position might be safe by default. If that's the case, Potters fans can say hello to League One in 2020/21.

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Harry Thompson

Harry grew up in Derby and supports his boyhood club Derby County. He recently witnessed his side lose at Wembley to Aston Villa in the Play Off final back in May. He has started to grow accustomed to big game defeats (QPR in 2013). But he remains optimistic that his side will get back to the big time (where they belong as they say) with Cocu at the helm and equal their sought after record of having the lowest points tally in the prem!

As well as supporting the Rams, he likes to take a gander at the rest of English football and the big European Leagues. 


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