Jones’ inevitable Stoke departure finally happens
Stoke have finally parted ways with Nathan Jones but will the change in manager finally get the Potters' season up and running?
Jones had seemingly been on borrowed time at the bet365 Stadium all season and Stoke have finally acted by relieving the former Luton boss of his duties on Friday, alongside assistant manager Paul Hart and first-team coach Joaquin Gomez.
There certainly can’t be any complaints with the sacking of Jones, who won only six of his 38 games in charge after taking over from Gary Rowett in January, with only two of those victories coming in the Championship this season.
However, it had seemed Jones might have weathered the storm after being consistently tipped to be sacked throughout September, with back-to-back wins last month over Swansea and Fulham suggesting they may have turned a corner.
Unfortunately for Jones, that only proved to be a brief repriev, as they followed up a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday with a loss at Millwall last weekend, a club ironically now managed by Rowett, and that proved to be the final straw for the Stoke hierarchy.
Jones leaves Stoke deep in the relegation mire. They sit second from bottom of the standings and are only above Barnsley on goal difference, while they are four points adrift of safety.
Former midfielder Rory Delap will take temporary charge of the Potters, along with Kevin Russell and Andy Quy, although the club are hoping to appoint Jones’ successor sooner rather than later.
The Potters are back in action on Monday when they entertain league leaders West Brom. They then travel to Oakwell to take on bottom club Barnsley a week on Saturday in what, even at this relatively early stage of the season, could be considered a relegation six-pointer.
However, given the amount of talent in the Stoke squad, it could prove an attractive job for someone to take and there are a number of big names already being linked.
Among the early frontrunners is Chris Hughton, who left Brighton at the end of the last season after not only guiding the Seagulls to the Premier League, but establishing their place as a top-flight club.
Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill also appears to be an option although his lack of managerial experience at club level may work against him, while he is also in the midst of trying to guide his country to Euro 2020.
Another name that seems to be in the frame, and one that would certainly divide opinion among Stoke supporters, is former boss Tony Pulis.
Pulis was the last man to guide Stoke to promotion to the Premier League back in 2008 and he not only established them there, he also took them to the FA Cup final in 2011.
It could even be argued that things have been going downhill for Stoke since Pulis’ departure in 2013.
However, the Welshman’s old school, more agricultural style means he may not be a popular appointment although fans must ask themselves whether style is really more important than substance.
Stoke, of course, have plenty of time to turn their season around but this feels like an important appointment as another mistake in that regard and the Potters could well find themselves back in the third tier for the first time since 2002.