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