The grass may not be greener for Stoke City

Stoke’s former boss Tony Pulis will look back on this year with few fond memories. Expected to push on and finally challenge the top teams, his side instead regressed, flirting with relegation more suggestively than in previous seasons. He joins the long line of managers who built dynasties, before outstaying their welcome. Do Stoke risk joining the long line of clubs who assume the grass is greener, before being greeted by cold hard reality?

The most obvious and recent example would have to be that of Wolverhampton Wanderers. The loveable Mick McCarthy, despite bringing Wolves back to the top tier, was deemed surplus to requirement, yet the club is now managerless after three ill-fated attempts at replacing him. Are Terry Connor, Stale Solbakken and Dean Saunders better managers than the Irishman? Gut instinct as to what is right for a club in the lower-reaches of the Premier League would suggest not. Ironically, with Ipswich sealing Championship survival for themselves, McCarthy starts next season a division above his former employers.

Charlton Athletic are another club who, to put it kindly, got a bit too big for their football boots. They were actually closer to breaking into European contention through their league position than Stoke have been, and regularly promised greatness before going on their mental holidays once hitting the 40-point mark. This wore on the fans, and eventually manager Alan Curbishley himself. Many fans welcomed the departure of the man who got them promoted and safely established in the top flight. It only took one season for it all to unravel, with Iain Dowie and Alan Pardew both contributing to relegation. Like Wolves, they even dropped down to League One but are now promotion chasers in the second tier.

Bolton did not sack their manager before their slide from the Premier League began, but the departure of Sam Allardyce nonetheless started a chain of events that led to relegation. Sammy Lee, Gary Megson, and Owen Coyle, all presided over a decline that Dougie Freedman is now beginning to reverse in the Championship, having narrowly missed out on a play-off place this time around.

Sometimes however, if the managerial appointment is right, a club can make that leap, and the grass can prove to be greener on the other side. Southampton’s sacking of Nigel Adkins was routinely trashed by all media outlets, but the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino has actually built on the former’s brilliant team spirit and attractive football. Similar managerial philosophies seem to be important when overseeing a change of manager.

With the above in mind, it would perhaps be wise for Stoke not to go all-out for a mini-Guardiola to show Pulis’ antiquated ways to be a thing of the past. Appointing Mark Hughes might make more sense than many think, despite his questionable recent record. The players currently donning the red and white are clearly playing to their strengths with their route-one style of play, and one can only hope that any transition to a more eye-catching style will take place without too much turbulence, and ultimately, Premier League survival.