On Tuesday evening Stoke City announced that Gary Rowett had been appointed as their new manager.
The 44-year-old replaces Paul Lambert, who departed the club following relegation from the Premier League, and now faces the task of building a team capable of making an immediate return to the top-flight.
Rowett led Derby County to the Championship play-offs this season, ultimately losing out to Fulham, and is regarded as one of the brightest, young British managers in the country. Stoke were previously linked with the former Burton Albion and Birmingham City manager in January and have reportedly paid around £2 million in compensation to secure his services.
However, whilst the Potters may possess a superior budget to many of their counterparts in the Championship an immediate return to the Premier League is certainly not guaranteed. The playing squad requires a dramatic overhaul during the summer and the second tier of English football is notoriously unpredictable and competitive.
Here, The Boot Room highlights three key areas that Rowett must address in order to revive Stoke’s fortunes.
Convince big-name players to stay
When a club is relegated from the Premier League they normally undergo a rapid fire sale of their best players in order to reduce the wage bill and balance the books.
However, that is not necessarily the case with Stoke. The Potters are in a solid financial position and are funded by Peter Coates, owner of online betting company Bet365, who is a local entrepreneur and has the club’s best intentions at heart.
The first task for Rowett will be to try and convince some of Stoke’s star assets to remain at the Bet365 Stadium and lead a promotion challenge.
Whilst figures such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Jack Butland are almost certainly likely to depart the club during the summer, there are others that might be tempted to stay put.
Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer have already tentatively suggested that they might be willing to remain whilst Rowett should also focus on keeping hold of other key figures such as Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi and Badou Ndiaye.
Stoke will be more capable of building a squad capable of challenging for promotion if Rowett can convince some of the key figures in the squad to stay.
Get things right in the transfer market
One key factor in Stoke’s downfall over the previous two years has been the club’s horrendous transfer policy.
It is amazing to think that the Potters have spent £12 million on Saido Berahino, who has yet to score a goal for the club, £18 million on Kevin Wimmer, who was demoted to the under-23 squad for much of the season, and a further £18.3 million on Giannelli Imbula, who spent the year on loan in France.
Quite simply, Rowett cannot afford to make similar, costly mistakes as he overhauls the team during the summer.
The club need to move away from so-called ‘big name’ players who have little affection for the club, such as Jese Rodriguez, and ageing stalwarts that are entering the twilight of their careers, such as Darren Fletcher. Stoke need to build a young, hungry and dynamic team that are motivated, driven and still have everything to prove.
However, that is certainly easier said than done.
Rowett will be handed a significant transfer budget, which will be further increased by players sales, to build a team capable of securing promotion and he needs to ensure that the money is spent much more wisely than it has been in the recent past.
Re-discover Stoke’s identity
Over the previous two years Stoke have gradually lost their idiosyncratic identity – much to the detriment of the club. The Potters have always been at their best when they have a clear identity, philosophy and direction.
Under Tony Pulis, Stoke were characterised as a hard working, well organised team that employed a direct style of football that relied on transferring the ball into the opponents eighteen yard box as often as possible. It was not to everyone’s taste, but it was effective and supporters knew exactly what they were going to get.
Mark Hughes altered that identity and built a team that was characterised by foreign flair, technical brilliance and a possession-based style of play. Three consecutive top half finishes followed and the media referred to the club as ‘Stoke-a-lona’ in reference to the team’s new style of play.
It was when Hughes began to move away from that definitive identity that the Potters lost all sense of direction.
It is vital that Rowett implements his own footballing philosophy and creates a clear, definitive identity that the Stoke supporters can unite behind. The philosophies of Pulis and Hughes probably sit at extreme, contrasting ends of the spectrum and the 44-year-old may be aiming to find the middle ground that balances hard work, discipline and creativity.
Gary Rowett hopes to ‘reignite’ Saido Berahino’s career but his future looks bleak
The 24-year-old is currently one of the highest earners at the club.
According to Sky Sports, New Stoke City manager Gary Rowett has revealed that he hopes to help ‘reignite’ Saido Berahino’s career and has offered the £12 million flop ‘a blank canvas’ following his appointment.
Rowett, who joined The Potters from Championship rivals Derby County in last month, met the media for the first time this week and revealed that he will be speaking to Berahino about his long-term future.
The 24-year-old striker was signed in January 2017 from West Bromwich Albion as the intended solution to the club’s ongoing inefficiency in front of goal. However, he has failed to deliver on that front and has yet to score for Stoke whilst he was demoted to the under 23 squad for the second half of last season by former manager Paul Lambert.
Berahino was once one of the most highly sought-after talents in English football with Tottenham and Liverpool among a long list of suitors after he scored 20 goals for West Bromwich Albion during the2014/15 season.
Ultimately, his career firmly came off the rails. He was frozen out of first team proceedings by Tony Pulis at The Hawthorns, who publically criticised the player’s attitude, and it was later revealed that he had also served an eight-week ban after failing a drugs test.
Berahino’s fortunes have not improved following his move to Stoke. He has often struggled to even make the match day squad at the Bet365 Stadium, has been criticised for being unfit and his last goal in a competitive fixture came over two years ago.
However, Rowett told Sky Sports that he believes the strikers still could have a future with Stoke.
“When you look at someone like Saido’s quality – I had a similar situation with [Matej] Vydra at Derby – where he hadn’t had a very good season so you look and ask if you can reignite some of those players.”
In truth, Rowett may have little choice but to provide Berahino with fresh start.
The striker’s reputation, both on and off the pitch, have taken such a beating over the past three years that it is hard to see any other club having any interest in buying him. He remains one of the highest earners at Stoke and there will be little interest in a forward who has not scored in over two years.
Despite Rowett’s claim that Berahino will be part of his plans, he has already started to attempt to rebuild the team’s forward line.
Stoke have been strongly linked with Wolverhampton Wanders striker Benik Afobe and Watford’s Andre Gray since the end of the season. The Potters certainly do not appear willing to place too much faith in Berahino coming good.
Some figures within the club may not be too keen on the 24-year-old being given another opportunity at the Bet365 Stadium but, unless the club can find a buyer which looks increasingly unlikely, they risk one of their biggest earners being stranded on the periphery of the squad.
Even a club of Stoke’s financial stability would feel uncomfortable cutting their losses one of the most expensive signings in their history.
The more likely scenario is that Rowett will provide Berahino with a clean slate.
At best, the striker may rediscover his touch in front of goal and become a genuine part of Stoke’s plans. The Championship could be the perfect springboard for both the player and the club whilst a different manager may be able to inspire him to greater things.
At worst, Berahino fails to perform at the Championship leaving the club facing the prospect of being stranded with a striker that is unable to score until his contract runs out in four years time.
Rowett may be crossing his fingers that he can reignite the 24-year-old’s career but, based on the previous three years, he may require a minor miracle to achieve such a feat.
Garry Rowett should put faith in Tyrese Campbell ahead of Stoke’s promotion push
The deal would seem an unlikely transfer as the former Arsenal prospect completed his permanent move to Molineux just days ago.
Instead of breaking the bank for a new number 9, the 44-year-old manager should seriously consider what is already in front of him and hand young Tyrese Campbell the chance to prove himself.
The 18-year-old striker featured four-times for Paul Lambert’s side towards the end of last season after impressing in Premier League 2, and the teenager deserves his chance with the senior team.
Despite scoring 49 goals at under-16 level for the Citizens, Campbell felt his opportunities were slim and opted to move to the Midlands to heighten his chances of making it in the professional game.
At 18 years of age and with a famous name already on his back, Campbell is already a player Potters fans will be fully aware of and, considering the club’s drop to the Championship, they may need a fresh face to lead the forward line next year.
Rowett only needs to look to the success of Bristol City, who put their faith in an 18-year-old Tammy Abraham in 2016. The Chelsea prospect would go on score 23 league goals in a truly defining season.
Stoke should consider doing the same with Campbell having witnessed the teenager’s hunger for goals. He us aware in the box, lightning quick, has an excellent left foot and is threatening in the air.
Rowett’s faith in Tyrese could also save the club millions with the youngster hopeful of emulating his father, who enjoyed a widespread Premier League career at both Arsenal and Everton during his glory days.
Campbell will be eager to play a serious role in Stoke’s season next campaign and considering his young age and hunger, he could be the perfect man to find the goals to fire Stoke back to the Premier League next season.
Four Stoke City youngsters who Gary Rowett could put his faith in next season
On Tuesday evening it was announced that Gary Rowett had been appointed as the new manager of Stoke City.
The 44-year-old has been tasked with building a team capable of making an immediate return to the Premier League and his first task will be to overhaul the playing squad during the summer.
Rowett will be handed a sizeable transfer kitty, which will be increased further through player sales, and the Potters will be expected to make a significant impact in the transfer market either side of the World Cup. Stoke supporters will be waiting with eager anticipation to see who their new manager attracts to the club and it is certain that a new-look team will line up for the first game of the season.
However, Stoke have a number of highly rated young players on their books and Rowett may also choose to look within the club’s academy in an attempt to provide some fresh energy and youthful exuberance.
Here, The Boot Room all highlights four young players that Rowett may look to include in his plans for the new season.
Having been born and raised in Stafford, Edwards became the first local player in almost a decade to make a first-team appearance for Stoke when he was handed his debut against Manchester City in October 2017.
The 19-year-old has been at the club since the age of eight and his undoubted potential has been no secret. The defender was voted as the under-18’s Player of the Year in both of the previous two seasons whilst playing a key role in the team’s run to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup last year.
Edwards made seven starts for the first team over the Christmas period and emerged as Mark Hughes’ first choice right back. His performances, at a difficult time for the club, were hugely impressive and were characterised by calmness under pressure, robustness in his defensive play and overlapping runs.
The arrival of Paul Lambert in January saw Edwards return to the academy side as the Scotsman elected to place his faith and trust in experience rather than youth.
However, Edwards has already demonstrated that he is capable of playing first team football and he will be hoping that Rowett will reinstate him into first-team proceedings.
The 20-year-old is one of Stoke’s most highly rated young forwards and has been on the periphery of the first team squad for the last two seasons.
He joined the club in the summer of 2014, electing to move to the Bet365 Stadium over a host of top-flight European clubs, and emerged as a dominant force academy football whilst also becoming a central figure for the Belgian young international sides.
Ngoy was handed his debut as a late substitute against Arsenal in December 2016 and made five further appearances over the subsequent twelve months. He spent the second half of the current campaign on loan at League One side Walsall, scoring three goals in thirteen games and helping the Saddlers to avoid relegation.
The Belgian is powerful, strong and pacey whilst also having an acute instinct in front of goal. Having already experienced the Premier League and life as a first-team regular at Walsall, now may be the time for Ngoy to make his breakthrough at Stoke.
Another Belgian youth international, Verlinden joined Stoke in the summer of 2016 having risen through the ranks at Standard Liege.
The 18-year-old is highly thought of at the Bet365 Stadium and his speed, agility and low centre of gravity combined with his technical brilliance makes him one to look out for in the future. Furthermore, the diminutive winger has already been around the periphery of the Stoke first team squad and has been named as a substitute on multiple occasions.
Verlinden has spent the current campaign on loan with FC St. Pauli but has made a minimal impact in Germany and has only made a handful of appearances for the club’s reserve team.
However, the fresh start at Stoke under the stewardship of Rowett may be just what the Belgian needs to kick-start his professional career.
Campbell began his football career with Manchester City’s academy but chose to turn down a professional contract with the club in the summer of 2016 in order to sign for Stoke. The Potters were ultimately ordered to pay £1.75 million for his services by a tribunal.
However, the 18-year-old has been the star of Stoke’s academy structure during the previous two years and, even at this early stage, he appears to be worth every penny of that fee.
Campbell was a prolific for the under-18’s team last season, with his goals firing the side into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, whilst he finished the current campaign as the top goal scorer in Premier League 2. His 18 strikes saw him shortlisted for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award.
The 18-year-old was handed his first-team debut in February 2018 against Leicester City and subsequently made three further substitute appearances prior to the end of the campaign.
Campbell has emerged as one of the most prolific young forwards in the country and next season may be the perfect opportunity for him to make his mark in first-team football.
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