Johnson backs Pulis for Stoke return

Stoke City
Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis claims the club needs to head in a new direction, regardless of what division they play in next season.

Glen Johnson believes former Stoke City boss Tony Pulis is the right candidate to return to the struggling club and steer them away from relegation trouble.

After a tumultuous time at the bet365 Stadium, Nathan Jones was sacked on November 1 as Stoke manager after just nine months in charge, where he only managed to win six times from 38 matches.

The Potters have been casting their net far-and-wide for a replacement and strong reports on Thursday claim the club have made an official approach to the IFA for Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill.

Former Newcastle United midfielder O’Neill said on Wednesday that “good ownership and good people” are key factors for him when it comes to leaving international management for a club job.

Despite these links, ex-Stoke defender Johnson, who finished his playing career with the Potters in 2018, believes Pulis is the man to return for a third spell and lead the club to safety.

The 61-year-old has already had two spells in charge of Stoke – 2002-05 and 2006-2013 – and Johnson has thrown his support behind the Welshman.

“Over the years, he’s gone in and steadied many ships and if there’s one thing that Stoke need right now it’s definitely to steady the ship and to stop the fall,” he told TalkSport. “I can see him going back there and doing a decent job.”

Stoke, who are rock-bottom of the Championship and six points from safety, return to action on Saturday when they make a crucial trip to Oakwell to take on 23rd-placed Barnsley, who are just one point ahead of them in the standings.

The Potters have lost their last two league games away from home, going down 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday and 2-0 against Millwall.