Stoke City sent clear message as big decisions and player moves win backing

Steven Schumacher on the sidelines as Stoke City take on Bristol City in the Championship.
Man on a mission... Stoke boss Steven Schumacher -Credit:Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Are Stoke City on the right track at last? Is Steven Schumacher the man to finally get a tune out of an underperforming Potters’ squad, a feat eluding Stoke’s previous four managers since relegation in May 2018?

Well, in truth, the jury is still out. There have been too many false dawns since Stoke dropped out of the Premier League six years ago to be swayed by an impressive end to an otherwise horrendous campaign.

It’s a time when player futures are resolved, when effort, intensity and graft magically appear where there was little or none before, so no-one at the bet365 Stadium will be seeing a corner turned, a hill crested or a battle finally won.

READ MORE: What £935m deal will mean for Stoke City in EFL shake-up

READ MORE: Stoke City end of season player ratings for 35-man squad

But it could well be the season when the decisions were made that started a change in fortunes. For example, there was the sacking of Alex Neil, post relegation manager number four, and the move to bring in Schumacher from Plymouth. Then, and just as significantly, there was the dramatic exit of technical director Ricky Martin and the arrival of club legend Jon Walters in his place, a man who arguably understands the DNA of Stoke City as well as anyone, a fully paid-up member of the Premier League Potters.

And the key decisions have continued into the close season, with a focus now on players staying, players going and summer transfer plans being formulated.

In the wake of the final-day rout of Bristol City and the conclusion of a brief run of form that could have had Stoke challenging for promotion if it had been seen more often, we polled Potters supporters on a wide range of issues from the season just gone - and the summer to come.

What quickly became apparent from the responses is that fans are right behind the club on those big decisions from earlier in 2023, almost as much of a rarity as a Stoke City promotion campaign.

For example, asked if it was the right decision to sack Neil, an overwhelming 93 percent of respondents concurred. As for Schumacher being the right man to take over, 64 percent of respondents agreed, with 32 percent saying the jury was still out on the Scouser.

When asked if it was the right decision to show Martin the bet365 Stadium door, 96 percent of those who voted agreed. And 83 percent of respondents backed the appointment of Walters.

It was a similar story with players who have either been let go or offered new deals. For example, when asked if Stoke should try to keep the out-of-contract Tyrese Campbell, 78 percent of respondents said it was time for both parties to move on. Stoke confirmed Campbell’s departure last week.

At the same time, the club confirmed it had triggered a one-year extension to Jordan Thompson’s contract, a move backed by 85 percent of respondents.

And it was a similar story with veteran full-back Enda Stevens, who has now agreed a new one-year contract. When if Stoke should try to keep the Irishman, 65 percent of votes cast were in favour of a deal.

Looking ahead to summer transfer business, supporters see one clear area on the pitch that needs bolstering - and that is up front. A clear 42 percent of votes were cast for strikers when asked for which position do Stoke most need to recruit first team starters. A distant second was goalkeepers on 18 percent.

As for this season’s crop of loan players returning to the bet365 Stadium, only two won any sort of backing, attacking full-back Ki-Jana Hoever (39 percent) and Luke Cundle (29 percent). Of this past season’s new recruits, Bae Junho (53 percent) and Million Manhoef (27 percent) were regarded as the best in the long-term.

Stoke City’s end of season poll results in full

How do you rate Stoke’s season on a scale of 1-10?

1 - 6%

2 - 11%

3 - 28%

4 - 24%

5 - 16%

6 - 10%

7 - 2%

8 - 1%

9 - 1%

10 - 1%

Was it the right decision to sack Alex Neil?

Yes, it was time to go - 93%

No, he needed more time for the squad to gel - 7%

Is Steven Schumacher the right man as head coach?

Yes, he’ll take Stoke in the right direction - 64%

No, we have to be ruthless - 4%

Not sure, the jury’s still out - 32%

Was it the right decision to move on from Ricky Martin?

Yes, he had to take responsibility for Stoke’s season - 96%

No, the changes he oversaw will be good for the club long-term - 4%

Do you have faith in Jon Walters as sporting director?

Yes, he is making a positive impression - 83%

No, he’s not for me - 2%

Not sure, let’s see what happens - 15%

Who will prove to be Stoke’s best signing of the season in the long-term?

Wouter Burger - 17%

Bae Junho - 53%

Million Manhoef - 27%

Junior Tchamadeu - 3%

Should Stoke try to keep Tyrese Campbell?

Yes he’ll come good - 22%

No it’s time for both parties to move on - 78%

Should Stoke try to keep Jordan Thompson?

Yes he’s a valuable squad player - 85%

No it’s time for both parties to move on - 15%

Should Stoke try to keep Enda Stevens?

Yes he’s shown his value - 65%

No it’s time for both parties to move on - 35%

Which of the loan players would you most like to re-sign on another loan or permanent basis?

Daniel Iversen - 15%

Ki-Jana Hoever - 39%

Luke McNally - 2%

Luke Cundle - 29%

Sead Haksabanovic - 1%

All of them - 10%

None - 4%

Which position do Stoke most need to recruit first team starters this summer?

Goalkeeper - 18%

Right-back - 1%

Left-back - 7%

Centre-back - 14%

Defensive midfield - 2%

Central midfield - 2%

Left wing - 0%

Right wing - 0%

Striker - 42%

All of them - 13%

None - 1%

How do you think Stoke City will fare next season? Have your say in the comments section HERE