Sadly I predicted we’d be relegated last summer as we stuck with Mark Hughes, who the club should have sacked last summer. As it was he wasted £18m on Kevin Wimmer from Spurs (he will hopefully be off in the summer), we had Jese on loan which ended badly and only really Kurt Zuoma on loan from Chelsea was a success. Arnie leaving for West Ham was a blow as we never really replaced him or his goals/assists. Plus we kept Glen Johnson and let Phil Bardsley go, who would have been much better in a relegation scrap.
January we changed manager (finally!) with Paul Lambert taking charge and three new signings, including the highly impressive Bauer. But most importantly we failed to sign a striker and even in the summer we took a gamble with Jese on loan. That cost us a lot as a decent striker makes all the difference and our defence under Hughes was awful, plus he bizarrely threw the Chelsea game where we were thrashed in order to beat Newcastle – we lost one nil.
We certainly stopped shipping goals under Lambert, however we scored rarely and relied heavily on Shaqiri for any goals. So the Championship next season after ten years in the Premier League and twenty years since our last relegation from old Division 2 (Championship) to Division 3 (League 1). Big rebuild needed in the squad with Jack Butland, Shaqiri and Joe Allen all likely to be sold as they will want PL football next season. Hopefully we can hold onto Grant, Shawcross, Bauer, Martins Indi, Diouf and Pieters, even Crouch and Adam as they would be useful experience/cover in the Championship where games come thick and fast.
Paul Lambert wants to stay, he has Championship experience however his record as our manager is poor – one win since he joined in mid-January. Chances are Peter Coates will stick with Lambert and our inept recruitment team of Scholes & Cartwright. We really need to focus and get a team spirit back as we could easily go down again as our problems mirror that of Sunderland, with a wage bill full of players on high wages playing little (Berahino) or on loan (Imbula – £20m for him, what a flop signing), who you can’t see many other clubs falling over themselves to sign.
I have supported my team Stoke City since the mid-70’s when I was a wide eyed & excited eight year old attending his first game and do feel for those youngsters seeing us being relegated – not anyone over 16 though, crying on TV get a grip 🙂 We will be back in the Premier League. Here’s hoping Coates & Co. admit their mistakes and more importantly learn from them, so we don’t have to wait twenty odd years until we get back in the top flight.
It is a very sad to see us relegated and with a whimper, look at West Brom they at least battled under Darren Moore. Still Stoke is my club and I will carry on supporting them through thick and thin. Already getting excited about next season…surely it can’t be any worse than this one?!