ADAM VIRGO

Our guest colum­nist looks at Gary Rowett’s pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion at Stoke

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

IBY THE time you read these words, Gary Rowett may be out of a job. Win at Shrews­bury or face the chop – that was the ru­mour do­ing the rounds on Fri­day. In a sense, though, the re­sult at New Meadow yes­ter­day was ir­rel­e­vant. Once a story like that leaks out, it is al­ready the end of the road.

I saw it re­cently with Mar­tin Allen at Ch­ester­field. He was told he had to beat Sal­ford City to save his job and did ex­actly that. Four games later, he was sacked any­way. Once the owner has lost con­fi­dence, it ain’t com­ing back.

That’s why I never get this ‘One game to save your job’ stuff. It’s like the push be­fore the shove. If you’re think­ing about it, just do it.

Be­sides, it’s not like Gary needs to be told. He un­der­stands the busi­ness as well as any­one and he knows he won’t be al­lowed to carry on with this run of form. So why say it? Why pile more pres­sure on?

The only rea­son this story has been re­leased – and it will have been de­lib­er­ately leaked – is to tell po­ten­tial can­di­dates that a phone call is com­ing. Slav­isa Jokanovic, a pro­mo­tion spe­cial­ist at this level, must be top of the list. Clearly, things haven’t worked for Gary.

He left a great job to take over at Stoke and he was prob­a­bly en­ti­tled to ex­pect more from a very good squad of play­ers.

They’ve strug­gled for goals and they haven’t come close to ful­fill­ing their po­ten­tial.

Po­ten­tial

Benik Afobe hasn’t done it for him. Tom Ince hasn’t done it for him. They’re a solid Cham­pi­onship side but there isn’t that 15-20 goal player that can get you pro­moted.

Re­sults aren’t atro­cious. You win away at Nor­wich, you lose at home to Birm­ing­ham and pick up a point at Sh­effield United.

In iso­la­tion, that’s not a bad lit­tle clus­ter of re­sults. But in the con­text of the sea­son, it typ­i­fies their mad­den­ing in­con­sis­tency. Not once have they re­ally got on a de­cent run.

I’m sure Gary, right, will feel he de­serves a lit­tle more time. He’s taken over a rel­e­gated club with a los­ing men­tal­ity and chang­ing that phi­los­o­phy takes time. Look how long it has taken As­ton Villa to sort them­selves out. Look at Swansea, rel­e­gated from the Premier League along­side the Pot­ters in May. They are just a point bet­ter off but there is no talk of Gra­ham Pot­ter los­ing his job. The dif­fer­ence, of course, is that Stoke spent a huge amount of money on new play­ers in the sum­mer – and that out­lay hasn’t been re­flected in per­for­mances.

When a rel­e­gated club spends big like that, it goes without say­ing that they want to bounce back at the first time of ask­ing. If they don’t think Gary can de­liver that, this is prob­a­bly their last op­por­tu­nity to ap­point some­one who can.

The mind­set will be ‘There’s plenty of games to play, we’ve got the play­ers and we’re not far off the play-offs’. That’s fair enough, but don’t pro­long the in­evitable with point­less ul­ti­ma­tums.

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