Stoke City: The Resurrection Foundation


19th January 2019. ST4 4EG. 17:00.

Nathan Jones and his Stoke City side celebrate the first win of the new era, as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side fall to a 2-1 defeat to the Potters. All is good, out with the old in with the new, Nathan Jones is the man to take this club forwards. His enthusiasm and his passion is clear to see and incredibly infectious. We are marching back to the big time with this man in charge…

Fast forward, November 26th 2019, 5pm. The man who once sat in the same seat Nathan Jones has ‘occupied’ at the bet365, Gary Rowett, gets one over on the team who sacked him less than 12 months ago. It marks the end of the Nathan Jones era and the club is in nothing short of turmoil. The fans have turned, the players look lacklustre, the manager is bereft of ideas – a change is needed. That change came just five days later as Nathan Jones was relieved – probably personally, as well as of his duties as manager at our wonderful football club.

The next appointment the Coates’ would make in the managerial seat of the bet365 was arguably the most important in years, maybe even in all of my 22 years on this earth. The Stoke City we had endured week in week out for nigh on three years were lazy, disinterested, heartless and almost embarrassing at times. That HAD to change.


Having managed just two club sides in his career, this appointment could have raised a few eyebrows. In fact no doubt it did, but what the straight talking Northern Irishman had done with his home nation was nothing short of emphatic. The man from Portadown guided his country to their first ever European Championship in 2016 where they reached the round of 16 and grabbed the hearts of all football fans with their sheer determination and togetherness. We should have known then, we had found a diamond in the rough (the rough being those managers that wanted to manage us).

Now, I am as big a fan of MoN as anyone, I really am BUT… I am not sure we can give him much credit for the performance away at Barnsley – I am not even sure he knew everyones name by that point I mean he’d been in the job for less than 24 hours. Never the less what we saw was a little glimpse into the coming months.

I have tried my very hardest to erase the first half of last season from my mind, but writing this I realised – without that woeful first 14 games of the season, we wouldn’t even be able to begin to give O’Neill as much credit as we must for the turn around. At Christmas we looked dead certs to be relegated to League One, I’m not a betting man but IF I WAS, my money was on us to be playing the Vale sooner or later.

But do you know what even though I felt like that on Christmas Day 2019, by the end of Boxing Day I was almost certain we’d still be a Championship team come this time next year. That home win against Sheffield Wednesday when Sam Vokes produced his best moment in the red and white stripes in the 97th minute showed me what I wanted to see. We saw heart, fight, passion, determination and more than anything we saw the Stoke City we know we love.

From then is all a blur as MoN took no prisoners really. Huddersfield away on New Years Day, Tyrese Campbell showing how he really is the next R9. That away win at The Hawthorns (Tyrese again). That pre-lockdown dismantling of Hull where we barely got out of third gear.

I didn’t think we could get better. I was almost proven right after lockdown when our beloved game returned and and we made Wigan look like prime Pep Guardiola Barcelona alongside making Neil Warnock look like the best tactical mastermind we have ever seen. But MoN owned that, he faced up to it and in no uncertain terms told the players if they played like that again – they wouldn’t play after that.

The four wins from our final six games last season shows how far we had come in literally six months (minus lockdown). Unbelievable.

This season was the first time since the Premier League days where I felt genuine excitement and optimism for Stoke and do you know what they have absolutely delivered everything I want from them.

Defensively we are the best team in the country with the most clean sheets kept in all of the leagues. We grind out results – no better example than this weekends 1-0 home win against a Blackburn Rovers side who move the ball well and have some really good individuals that punish those who can’t defend.

Listen, we might not have a lot of the ball. We might not play one-two’s, quick passing tiki-taka football. Despite all of the pessimists out their on Stoke City Twitter (don’t @ me) we have defied a lot of critics this season. In the league we have an average possession of 48%, we’ve scored 25 goals and a pass completion rate of over 70%. You tell me this time last year, did you ever think those stats could be that of Stoke City? Because I certainly did not.

He drinks the whiskey. He drinks the Guinness. He hates the Vale.

Cowley x Town

Cowley x Town. New man.

The rumour mill is once again churning as the managerial roundabout keeps on turning.

The latest product of said roundabout is the transfer of Lincoln manager Danny Cowley to Huddersfield to replace the departed Jan Siewert.

In fact, according to reports…

Cowley is set to take charge of the Terriers as soon as today, leaving a side that he has managed two promotions guiding the side from non-league back into the Football League. Where he then guided the Imps to seventh before the next season catapulting them into League One.

Not only that but Lincoln became the first non-league club to reach the quarter-final of the FA Cup in over a century. Before being knocked out by Premier League outfit Arsenal in a 5-0 loss.

Cowley could be forgiven for being pessimistic about the move as the pressure will be on to turn around the fortunes of a seriously struggling side who sit 23rd in the Championship with no wins and only Stoke City below them on goal difference.

Stoke City can be a prime example for how such a move could not benefit the Lincoln boss.

Nathan Jones left Luton Town in a similar position to the one Lincoln are in under Cowley now to take the job in the Potteries, but has since struggled only winning three league games in 26.

Either way as Cowley looks set to take the hot seat at the John Smiths Stadium, it will be interesting to see how he fairs in turning around the sinking ship.

DF Previews…

This time it’s my turn. I take a look at MY teams upcoming season.

Stoke City

Manager: Nathan Jones

Last season: 16th   

key player 

Peter Etebo – It is paramount that we manage to keep hold of the Nigerian midfielder for the upcoming season. He showed glimpses last season of the class midfielder that he is and in my opinion the best since Steven N’Zonzi left for Sevilla in 2015. If he can perform more consistently he can be a real force from the central midfield and probably chip in with a few important goals.


We have made 7 signings so far and all very shrewd. Liam Lindsay cost the club £2million and following him were Lee Gregory, Jordan Cousins, Adam Davies, Nick Powell and Stephen Ward all on free’s from there respective clubs.

At the time of writing our most recent signing is former Huddersfield Town captain Tommy Smith. With a much smaller financial outlay on players this season we look more clued up about what to expect this season.My favourite signing so far has to be Nick Powell, a real talent when he is on his A game. If we can keep him injury free he could be a key cog in Nathan Jones’ preferred diamond formation providing and scoring goals.


Has to be Dwight Gayle. Showed his true form for West Brom last season and what a real asset he can be in the Championship. Perhaps £20million is a fee to be scoffed at but if he brings 20+ goals he will be worth every penny in our promotion bid season.


Top six is a minimum this season. Last season was disastrous and I definitely expect us to be at least challenging for promotion if not the league title. On paper we easily have the best squad in the league.


The visit of Luton to the bet365. Luton fans have a real hatred for Nathan Jones since he left the League One champions back in January for the job with us. Much like Rowett and Derby last season I expect the atmosphere will be electric.


I never expect Stoke to win a trophy, it’s just not how I’ve been bought up, but, I’d love us to win the league. I’ll settle for the play-off final though!

@JDawsonFootball on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Matt previews his teams upcoming season.


Manager: Mark Warburton

Last season: 19th   

key player 

No player really excites me however it was good to see Angel Rangel resign for another year and I’m interested to see these 2 highly rated youngsters signed from Man City and Spurs, Matt Smith and Luke Amos respectively. We have had good success over the years with younger players breaking through on loan, the most notable one in recent years was Andros Townsend so I’m hoping these two can create a similar kind of magic.


Matt Smith, Dominic Ball, Luke amos, Yoann Barbet, Conor Masterson, Lee Wallace, Liam Kelly and Angel Rangel.


At time of writing, Geoff Cameron, Stokes loss would be our gain. Im perplexed as to why Stoke would be prepared to lose one of their most consistent and versatile all rounders last year but his addition last season made a big difference. His injury cost us massively midway through the season and id love to see him back. (Turns out Matt got his wish as Cameron has now been announced as a QPR player!)


Relegation, or certainly bottom 8, not enough experience or quality and too many untested young players.


QPR V Stoke, living in Stoke ensures theres plenty of banter leading up to the game every season.


QPR will be lucky not to be relegated based on current signings.

DF Previews…

James previews his teams upcoming season.

Nottingham Forest

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi

Last season: 9th   

key player 

Key player for me has to be João Carvalho (other fans may say Joe Lolley). Club record signing last season at €15m, he had a fairly inconsistent season last year which felt largely due to the fact Martin O’Neill who took over in January didn’t seem to fancy him. Feel now he has settled into English football this could be a much stronger season for him.


Yuri Ribiero

Tiago Silva

Sammy Ameobi

Alfa Semedo

Arijanet Muric 

Albert Adomah

Currently a struggle to pick a favourite as we’ve only played a handful of preseason games and there is very little to judge the lads that have come from abroad. Arguably I’d have to say Adomah but he’d need to rekindle the form of old to have an impact.


No specific players as such but I feel with the players who’ve gone or are expected to leave in the near future, we could still do with another CB, CDM and Striker.


I expect top 10 again and would love to see us push on but we’re in a relatively unknown period here with a new manager and a fair few new signings. It’s pretty clear the club owner Evangelos Marinakis expects promotion.


Derby. It’s a brilliant occasion for both sets of fans, firmly believe the East Midlands Derby should be a top flight fixture.


It’s been a long while, so I’ll reluctantly say no!

@Jiminy_Bob on Twitter

DF Previews…

Vinny previews his teams upcoming season.


Manager: Jonathan Woodgate

Last season: 7th   

key player 

It could be a number of players, we we have a new manager all the players need to impress to become a key player in Woody’s team.

Britt Assombalonga was scoring well in the AFCON and scored a hat trick in pre season so I’m excited to see if his big transfer fee will eventually pay off under an attacking manager.

George Saville and Jonny Howson both showed flashes of good football but we need constancy from the pair. 

But with Woody insisting he wants to move towards giving youth the nod, I could see Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher being key, fans loved their pace and energy in stages of last season. With the addition of Robbie Keane to the coaching staff, I can only see that being a positive for the younger players going forward. It’ll be good to see as the season goes on. 


Tomas Mejas, Marcus Browne and Marc Bola have all transferred to the Boro, but we have also had a few additions from the youth ranks.

The returning cup keeper and penalty saving specialist will return to warm the bench nicely just behind Darren Randolph. 

Marcus Browne and Marc Bola look to be what boro need, young and energetic players who are hungry to play. It’s early days but if Marcus Browne hits the ground running he could be a key player to the Woody regime, with his direct style of play. 

Hayden Coulson could be exciting to see this season too, playing every pre season game this season I could see him being a surprise first teamer. It’s great to see the academy graduates signing up and doing well, especially solving that George Friend cover problem we’ve had for a number of seasons now; potentially even replacing our club captain.


We need more additions, with rumors of some more young and hungry players alike to Browne and Bola it could be an exciting season for Boro. We need new recruits in the shape of cover in a number of positions and I’d like at another winger to improve our offensive game. Fingers crossed they’ll come in the form of pacy technically strong players, as that would complement the reasonably strong spine of the team. 

I’m confident with the sales of Braithwaite and Flint, combined with a few of the younger lads leaving the club, this has freed up a little bit of money for these players to come in. 


After strengthening the side with new additions; I can see top 6. 

Without new additions; I can’t see any higher than last seasons finish in 7th place and realistically it’s going to take Woodgate a few months to implement his ideology so maybe 11th, 12th would be the realistic finish. 


Two words: Attacking Football! 

Woodgate has vowed that the fans will see a return of attacking football in the form of a smoggy tiki-taka 4-3-3, stepping in the right direction away from the Tony Pulis mesozoic era. 

I grew up with Juninho making the invincibles look like a lower league side, Viduka’s and Yakubu’s beautiful first touches, Hasselbaink showing the Etihad some real talent, with a Stewart Downing in his prime, putting the ball on a plate for all of them week in week out. I just want to see goals. 


I really wouldn’t complain if I saw one, but I’m a Middlesbrough fan, let’s be realistic – no. 

@VinnyRay2 on Twitter

DF Previews…

Leeds United

Manager: Marcelo Bielsa

Last season: 3rd  

key player 

Kalvin Phillips.  He’s been the most improved player under the current manager and has become un-droppable and dictates how we play.


Jack Harrison (Loan), Ben White (Loan) and Helder Costa as well as Rafa Mujica initially to join the U23 squad. Costa is the most promising so far. First class with Wolves at this level.


I’d like a centre half just because we are short in that area, and a 20 goal striker. Although injury free seasons for Bamford and Roofe could see either of them reach the mark.


Where do you expect to finish and why? Top 2. Close last year when unexpected and I think every player has bought in to the managers ideas and now know what is required.


So many Yorkshire derbies in the Championship so bragging rights in all of those would be good


I think we can win the Championship but the domestic cups will be out of reach

@dlturner4 on Twitter

DF Previews…

The Tilehurt End preview their teams upcoming season.


Manager: Jose Gomes

Last season: 20th   

key player 

Andy Rinomhota, an all-action central midfielder who can both break up opposition attacks and start some of his own with powerful forward runs. His presence balances out the side a lot and allows the more naturally creative players to express themselves properly, not to mention protecting the defence. Plus, as an academy graduate, he’s extremely popular with the home crowd. 


At time of writing it’s just Joao Virginia, a 19 year-old goalkeeper from Everton on loan for the season. It’s a big ask to use such a young guy as our new first-choice ‘keeper, but he’s certainly got the talent to excel at this level – shot-stopping, command of his penalty area, and the ability to play out accurately from the back. 


A deep-lying playmaker. Without one, our midfield badly lacks creativity and the ability to dictate the tempo of a game, so recruiting someone to sit in front of the back four and spray passes around is crucial. We had that last season with Lewis Baker, and replacing him (or bringing him back) will be a big boost to this side. 


Around 14th. We should still be able to bring in first-team quality to improve what’s currently a very young, inexperienced side, but even then it’ll be a big ask to get into the top half of the table. That said, we’ve got a much better manager, squad morale and fan connection than this time last year, so should be able to steer clear of the bottom three by May 2020. 


Wycombe Wanderers away in the League Cup. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a derby match in a competitive game for at least 15 years – even if more animosity is reserved for lower-league sides Oxford United and Swindon Town. It’s bound to be an entertaining cup match under the lights in August. Charlton Athletic- A noisy sell-out against our South London rivals and normally a win!!


Bar a shock run in the FA Cup or League Cup, no. The closest we’ve come to winning either trophy was getting to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1927 and 2015, but I don’t see us getting any further any time soon.

@TheTilehurstEnd  on Twitter

DF Previews…

Ryan talks about his teams upcoming season.


Manager: Pep Clotet

Last season: 17th   

key player 

With 2 weeks until the season starts and 3 weeks until the end of the transfer window, the squad is around 5/6 players short with key players lost who have not been replaced. In my opinion, one player who has the potential to be key player this season for blues is Isaac Vassell. There are big shoes to fill with the loss of 22 goals from Che Adams. Juke and Adams partnership threw up nearly 40 goals between them last season and there is massive responsibility on Vassell’s shoulders, especially with the lack of transfer business. The £2 million striker showed bags of potential when he first came onto the scene under Redknapp and Cotterill and he will take part in his first pre-season at the club after a long spell on the side lines with injury. This could be a massive year for the striker.


With three weeks until the transfer window shuts the new signings sit at a grand total of ONE. That is Gary Gardner. The Gardner deal had a mix response from the blues fans but for me the deal was a very good bit of business by the club, the only thing being if it is followed up with more deals. The deal included Jota going in the opposite direction and £4million also a part of the deal coming to blues, it was a good bit of business by blues in the fact that Jota flattered to deceive at the club and didn’t live up to his £6 million price tag. Also, Gardner played a very big part in last year’s side, so I was pleased to see him back in a blue shirt.


How long have you got? First and foremost, the priority is the replacement of Che Adams and Michael Morrison. I would have liked to have seen Blues go out and sign Lyle Taylor from Charlton with him scoring 22 goals last season in League 1, but it is very unlikely that will happen. As for the replacement for Morrison, Kristian Bielik a lad that played for blues under that dreaded Zola rein seems to have came on leaps and bounds since leaving, he played last season on loan at Charlton from Arsenal and played for Poland at this Summers U21 European Championships. He could be worth a punt with Roberts already on the books also? Again, it is looking very worrying with only two weeks until the season, the lack of business the club has done, with 4/5 minimum still needed.


As much as everybody is tipping Blues to fall to relegation, I really don’t think it will come to that (I hope). It all depends on the signings brought in in these next few weeks and whether Clotet can get them playing as to how well or badly we do this season, a good start is vitally important. My prediction would be a mid-table finish for blues around 12th position, challenging at which end is though is another question!


There are a few new grounds for me to tick off in there this year, Luton, Charlton and Portsmouth are all grounds I have yet to go to, so they were ones that were looked out for on the calendar. Fulham’s always a good away day and the local ones in Stoke and Baggies.


I’ll let you all answer this one, but you never know!

@rybcfc_ on Twitter.


Luke previews his teams upcoming season.


Manager: Tony Mowbray 

Last season: 15th   

key player 

Bradley Dack – The mans a magician when the balls at his feet. Takes players on with ease. He links defence to attack and to say he’s an attacking midfielder he scores plenty of goals. When he plays well we’re superb and if he has an off day we seem to struggle as a team.


So far we’ve signed Stewart Downing, Bradley Johnson and Sam Gallagher as well as a couple of young lads for our under 23’s. If I had to pick a favourite I’d say Sam Gallagher, we’ve had him before on loan and he was superb for us in a poor team which seen us get relegated. He’s only 23 so has bags of potential and he’s a big, strong, pacy striker who can also play on the wings. He’s a real presence and a physical nuisance. 6ft 4” inch and he’s pretty quick.


Since we’ve sold our no.1 goalkeeper (David Raya) to Brentford we’re in desperate need of a new one. There’s not many out there who are available but we’ve been linked with Joe Hart and I’d be delighted with that. Even though he currently plays for our fierce rivals in Burnley he’s a very experienced goalkeeper who’s played at the highest level for both club and country. I believe he’d be a coop if we could get him and arguably the best keeper in the championship.


Top 10 has to be our aim, to play-offs at a push. We played excellent last season bar from a 2 month bad spell in February and March which seen us drop from just outside the play-offs to just above the relegation zone. With this being our second season back in the championship we have a real opportunity to push on with a young squad.


Preston at home for me. They’re our biggest rivals in the championship and they always bring a good following. They’ve had the better of us in recent history and it will be great to get one back over on them.


Absolutely not and if we did there would be scenes. Think it’s nigh on impossible for a championship club to win the FA Cup or Carabao Cup at the moment. If we were to win a trophy the most realistic would be the play-off final but that’s the aim for all the other clubs in the league too.

@Luke_Bradderz on Twitter.