Why Stoke Are Still A Good Bet For Championship Promotion

Britannia Stadium” (CC BY 2.0) by yellow book

Many early season predictions from fans and commentators pointed to Stoke City getting promotion from the Championship and regaining their place back in the Premier League.

But after a poor start to the season, even the Staffordshire club’s own fans have started to think the worst.

There’s even some bemoaning Stoke’s high-paid but currently poor-performing players could lead the Potters to another relegation. But that’s the sort of short-sighted thinking that follows a disappointing result.

Stoke City still have a very good chance of finishing the season in the play-off spots or earning automatic promotion. And here’s why. For starters, the relegated Midlands club, which spent a decade in the Premier League having won promotion in 2008, were the early season favourites with bookies to top the league. Manager Gary Rowett has accomplished some astute business in the transfer market, while retaining a number of players with Premier League experience, including veteran striker Peter Crouch.

They’ve importantly still got Welshman Joe Allen in the heart of midfield. He’s Premier League class and could quite easily fit into most squads in the top division. He did, of course, play for Liverpool for four years. Prior to that, he was a regular for Swansea, while he was a crucial part of Wales’ successful run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals. A hard-working midfielder who always wants the ball, Allen is the sort of intelligent first-teamer who will help Stoke dominate possession while providing solidarity when the Potters don’t have the ball.

No Ambition.” (CC BY 2.0) by domfell

Rowett has been backed with the funds to improve the squad by owners who covet England’s lucrative top division. This has seen the club build the Championship’s best squad with plenty of talent in depth. Veterans like former Manchester United favourite Darren Fletcher and attacker Tom Ince, who played for Premier League survivalists Huddersfield Town last year, add guile and flair to the midfield.

Championship betting might have seen the club become a popular outside punt at 40/1 as relegation fodder given the high return after a disappointing start to the season. But Stoke still possess an experienced nucleus to their squad that should see them enjoy success over the long-term. We mustn’t forget they’ve got a top international keeper who went to the World Cup in Jack Butland and some excellent central defenders such as Ryan Shawcross.

And while Rowett is still relying on 37-year-old striker Peter Crouch, Saido Berahino is tipped to come good this season in a new deeper role. If the player who scored 23 goals in 105 appearances for former club West Brom could go from being a “one goal in four” player to a “one goal in three”, Stoke’s early-season fortunes will drastically change.

Stoke have dug themselves a hole they’ll need to emerge from but there are still reasons to be optimistic for Potters fans. They’ve got a strong squad, a decent defence and the potential to score plenty of goals. Swansea City, West Brom, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough will be in the mix but the smart money has to remain on Stoke.

Author: Mike Roberts

A football fan since the 1970s, I take my inspiration from the standard of writing that made Shoot! magazine streets ahead of anything else back in the day. I'm also a complete and utter stathead, which I blame on being exposed to American sports at the end of my teens.

2 comments on “Why Stoke Are Still A Good Bet For Championship Promotion

  1. KernowPotter on said:

    Mike… I would suggest by reading this that you are not a Stoke supporter, let alone follow them an awful lot. This feels very much like an outsiders point of view.

    You’re scraping the surface; it’s easy to say we have the strongest team on paper so we should get promotion, and we should simply get out of the hole we dug for ourselves…. But there seems to be a much deeper issue at Stoke, one that noone can put their fingers on.

    Personally, I’m hoping its just Rowett getting used to his squad before we can get any positive results. I’m liking Gary Rowett so far, he says the right things in front of the media and doesn’t ignore any issues, which is refreshing from Mark Hughes’ ways with the media. We haven’t got a run of form going yet, but I’m hoping by Christmas we’ll be back in contention for the title / promotion.

    At the same time, there is a thought in the back of my head that Rowett is simply out of his depth at this club and he’s bitten off more than he can chew. I don’t think he’s been properly tested at this level, he certainly hasn’t won promotion to the PL before, and hasn’t ever coached a squad of such high calibre and experience. He’s a young manager with not a great deal of experience, which doesn’t fill me with an awful lot of confidence. But still, I remain hopeful for him as a manager, and for Stoke’s promotion hopes!

    It seems our players were partly to blame for our relegation, a lot of dead-weights, has-beens, and egos that think they are bigger than the club, or players who’s hearts just aren’t in it. This summer I think Stoke have tried their best to detach themselves from such players.

    Not one team seems to want Gianelli Imbula (and I don’t blame them), we can only ship him out on loan as a temporary solution, and it seems Ndiaye’s loan move back to Galatasaray was inevitable from the start of the window. And the best they could do with Choupo-Moting was to just let him to to PSG for FREE?! I would have thought we could have got some money for him… But still, I think most Stoke fans would agree that although he is a good player, he didn’t want to be in the championship, and so he would be no good here. I’m disappointed to see Charlie Adam still at the club, I like him but he is simply far past his best, and unfortunately a liability on the field. Maybe the club didn’t have offers for him, or maybe he’s a valuable character to have in the dressing room and so they kept him – I don’t know.

    One final point is that there seems to be a lack of leadership. Ryan Shawcross has never been the most vocal of captains, and not the strongest leader on the field. I feel this is something Stoke are missing right now. Darren Fletcher has taken the armband on a number of occasions now, but I can’t see him playing a vital role in the team.

    I’m as confused as any Stoke fan as to what is wrong at Stoke right now.

    I’m not sure, I would love to see us go up this year, but I feel there are too many problems at the club at the moment to justify Stoke being a good bet for promotion!

  2. Mike Roberts on said:

    Hello, thanks for the comment – we’ve been fighting a bit of a battle with spammers recently and I’ve had to wade through a load of nonsense to find a genuine comment.

    You’re right, I’m not a Stoke fan but I do support a team in the Championship and as you can probably imagine it’s quite difficult to maintain a neutral point of view sometimes. I think you’ve made some excellent points (I was also amazed to hear that Choupo-Moting had left) but I also think there are more than a few people who were hoping that Rowett might not do as well as everyone thought before the season started. When he left Derby for Stoke I thought he’d lost a lot of the sympathy he’d gained after Birmingham City got rid of him a couple of years ago, but I can also understand the appeal of the job and he’s certainly got experience managing at this level.

    I must admit I thought you’d be doing better than you have been though: I was chatting to a friend of mine who is a Swansea fan before the season began and I said to him that since Stoke, Swansea and WBA were last at this level, the Championship has changed quite a lot. The first ten games are usually chaos and then it suddenly sorts itself out: if Stoke are in the mix on Boxing Day, there’s a very good chance that they’ll be ‘there or thereabouts’ at the end of the season. However, in order to do that they need to go on a really good run over the next few weeks. It is possible to do that: neither Fulham nor Millwall started well last season and although the Lions ultimately just missed out on the playoffs, Fulham were promoted.

    Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to do so – as I said at the start of my reply, it’s great to have some genuine feedback 🙂