Stoke City was guided by Mark Hughes to three straight ninth-place finishes for 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 season, their best place finish since 1974-75 before finishing 13th last season. However, the Potters who added weight by bringing in new players like Jese from Paris Saint Germain, Kurt Zouma from Chelsea and Saido Berahino from West Bromwich Albion has failed to perform this season.
Stoke City is known for their mettlesome defending and they have become famous in the footballing world as the place teams struggle to win points at. Their physical style of football at the bet365 stadium has been popularized to the extent that it is now considered an achievement for teams who to win matches on a “cold, rainy night at Stoke”.
They are a powerful side with tall burly players all across the pitch who loves to play the physical game. With the addition of stout and pacey attackers, they perfected their balance on the pitch. However, things have fallen apart this season. As is always the case with any club suffering a loss of form, the axe falls on the manager. Mark Hughes was no exception.
After Stoke’s pursuit of Martin O’Neill to replace Hughes at the helm failed, the club announced that they have appointed Paul Lambert as the new man in charge at the Bet365 stadium. The former Wolves and Blackburn Rovers coach have signed a two and half year contract at the club. With Stoke out of both domestic cup tournaments and languishing in the 18th spot in the table, Lambert’s task will be to lift the team out of their domestic league misery. He will just have 15 games in charge this season to change the fortunes of the struggling side and save them from relegation.
With Lambert in charge at the Potters, here are three changes he needs to make to turn the tide in their favour.
Restore Saido Berahino’s Confidence
The Englishman was once tipped to be one of the most dangerous strikers in England but his transfer to Stoke has seen him suffer the longest goal drought of his career. However, Berahino remains a talented player and should Lambert be able to help him rediscover his form, Stoke could be looking at a very healthy finish to their season.
Sort Out The Backline
There is a problem of plenty at Stoke’s backline this season. Plenty of talented defenders has been brought into the side and now constant chopping and changing have created a disruption in the team chemistry among the players resulting in almost every defender being left short on confidence. A steady centre-back pairing is a need of the hour at Stoke.
Defend as a team
It is no mystery why Stoke has the worst defence in the league. The Potters have conceded 50 goals in the league. The English league is physical and fast-paced. Stoke has looked lethargic when they have lost the ball and Darren Fletcher simply does not have the legs anymore to shield the entire backline. They need to change their style of play. Given that they have fast paced players, Stoke can shift to a more defensive and compact shape as a team and have their pacey wingers launch counter-attacks to score goals.