Oct 5, 2017
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Four of the worst Stoke City signings in the Premier League era

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Over the past two decades Stoke City have made astonishing progress, rising from the depths of the Football League to become an established Premier League club.

The Potters are now into their tenth successive season competing in the top flight of English football and during this period the club have made some impressive signings.

Figures such as Marko Arnautivic, Peter Crouch, Robert Huth, James Beattie and Abdoulaye Faye have made significant contributions to ensure that the club has continued to progress, develop and, more importantly, avoid dropping back down into The Championship.

However, not every signing has turned out to be a definitive success. Here The Boot Root names 4 of the worst Stoke City signings of the Premier League era.

Dave Kitson

After achieving automatic promotion from the Championship, the summer of 2008 was a period of rebuilding and remoulding for Stoke City as Tony Pulis attempted to pull together a team capable of surviving the rigours of Premier League football.

The signing of Dave Kitson for a club-record fee of £5.5 million actually looked like quite a good on paper as The Potters attempted to add some firepower to their squad.

The flame-haired striker had demonstrated during a goal-laden spell with Reading that he was capable of finding the back of the net on a regular basis and it was hoped that he would build an effective partnership with Ricardo Fuller.

In actually fact, Kitson failed to score in any of the 18 competitive appearances that he made in the first half of the 2008/09 season and was sent back to Reading on loan until the end of the campaign.

Stoke City

He did return to The Potteries the following season and netted five goals in all competitions, but never truly impressed or looked happy.

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The striker publicly admitted in an interview with BBC Berkshire that he had made the “wrong decision” to join Stoke and that he regretted leaving Reading. He was once again shipped out on loan, this time to Middlesbrough, and in the summer of 2010 he was sold to Portsmouth.

Kitson was Stoke’s first major, big-money signing after the club achieved promotion to the Premier League but he failed to adapt to Tony Pulis’ direct style of play or demonstrate any sharpness in front of goal. To put his performances for the club in perspective, each goal that he scored cost the club roughly £1.1 million.

Dionatan Teixeira

The Brazilian-born Slovakian was among the first cohort of new arrivals at the Bet365 Stadium in the summer of 2013, signing a three-year contract after a successful trial with The Potters, following the appointment of Mark Hughes as manager.

He was described by Stoke City Chief Executive Tony Scholes via the official club website as “a talented player with great potential”, whilst Hughes himself compared the central defender to former Blackburn Rovers stalwart Ryan Nelson.

As Stoke fans, we can only offer our apologies to Ryan Nelson for the comparison.

Teixeira made just two substitute appearances in 31 months with the club before his contract was terminated in January 2017. The central defender just simply did not possess any of the characteristics or talent that is required to perform in the top-flight of English football.

Quite how he managed to remain at the Bet365 Stadium for such a prolonged period of time without having any impact whatsoever on the team is one of the great mysteries of life.

Wilson Palacios

In the summer of 2011 Stoke City made a double swoop for Tottenham Hotspur duo Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios, the latter pf the pair estimated to have cost £6 million.

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It was designed to be a signal of intent, a message to the Premier League that The Potters were willing to make substantial investment in the transfer market in an attempt to break into the top-ten.

Palacios had built a reputation as being an energetic, tenacious central midfield player that had the ability to work from box-to-box. In theory he was the perfect addition to a Stoke team that was perceived as having an aging and rigid midfield – the Honduran’s dynamism would be the perfect way of rejuvenating a stagnating unit.

The problem was that once Palacios arrived he appeared to be completely unfit, overweight and lacking any kind of sharpness. It took until December for the midfielder to be handed his first Premier League start and his debut campaign in The Potteries saw him restricted predominantly to substitute appearances and a vast amount of time relaxing on the bench.

The following year was even worse and he made just four substitute appearances in the entirety of the 2012/13 season. There was a slight revival following the appointment of Mark Hughes in the summer of 2013, making 21 appearances, but Palacios was completely frozen out of first team proceeding the following season and was released at the end of the 2014/16 season having not played a single minute of competitive football for over a year.

Palacios never looked capable of recapturing the form that he had shown at Wigan and Tottenham, due mainly to a complete lack of fitness. He made just over 50 appearances during four seasons with Stoke despite, at the time, being one of the club’s highest paid players earning an estimated £35,000 per week.

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Michael Owen

Yes, that is right, Michael Owen did play for Stoke City! The fact that his final season as a professional player before retirement has been completely forgotten by the vast majority of the football world is probably an indication of how little impact he had in The Potteries.

Owen was my idol as a child growing up and although common sense suggested that his arrival at the Bet365 Stadium in the summer of 2012 was little more than a final pay-day, I was still excited to see one of England’s greatest ever strikers pull on a Stoke jersey.

Unfortunately the former Liverpool, Newcastle United, Real Madrid and Manchester United forward was a pale shadow of the player that I remember being enthused by as a child and he was undoubtedly in the twilight of his career.

He joined on a free transfer in the summer of 2012 after an injury-strewn spell at Old Trafford, which was already an indication of Owen’s physical condition, and it was never clear where or how he would fit into Tony Pulis’ team.

Owen made just eight Premier League appearances during the 2012/13 season as a problematic hamstring injury and a seeming reluctance by Pulis to Select him substantially restricted his playing time.

He did score one solitary goal against Swansea City, with The Potters already 3-0 down at the time, and in doing so became only the seventh player to score 150 goals in the Premier League.

At the end of the campaign Owen announced his retirement, having had minimal impact throughout the season, leaving supporters scratching their heads over why he was signed in the first place and how much the transfer had cost the club in terms of wages.

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Stoke City
Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.