Stoke City's recruitment drive is in full swing, having parted company with Paul Lambert last week. The club have been quick to draw up a shortlist and contact potential replacements as they seek to appoint a replacement as soon as possible.
It seems the Coates family may have another safe British manager in mind if the frontrunners are anything to go by. We take a look at the current bookies favourites and the likeliness of them being the new man in the Stoke City dugout come August.
1. Gary Rowett
Gary Rowett is now the odds on favourite to be appointed the new Stoke manager, with some publications even reporting a deal has been agreed. This wouldn’t be the first time Stoke have expected to unveil Rowett though, the Derby County boss was originally the number one choice to replace Mark Hughes in January. Rowett turned down the chance to take over at Stoke, and instead signed an improved deal at Derby.
It’s no surprise the board is still interested really, they obviously rate Rowett very highly, but it would be a strange appointment for the club. After signing a new extended deal, Rowett is going to cost Stoke a lot more than when he first turned them down.
Furthermore, the Stoke board were supposed to be targeting someone with a proven history of promotion, which Rowett does not have. He received a lot of praise at Birmingham but only ever managed a mid table finish. Likewise he has now enjoyed two very impressive starts at Derby but has both times allowed the season to trail off costing the club promotion.
Rowett is still young in terms of management and that is something Stoke need, a fresh new outlook. He has never really taken a club to the next level before though and considering the other managers out there, it’s a lacklustre gamble that Rowett can restore the club’s Premier League status.
2. David Moyes
The early favourite in the race for the job, it’s still thought that he is the ideal candidate in the board’s mind. Reports suggest Moyes wouldn’t like to step down to the Championship and may instead opt for a break from football. He wouldn’t be the most high profile manager to be convinced to take over a Championship role though, and Moyes surely must be short a Premier League suitors.
After personally overseeing the decline of Manchester United, Moyes went on to do a poor job in charge of Real Sociedad, before becoming the man who finally took Sunderland down. Moyes was given a fourth chance to impress where he did keep West Ham up but it took a final day victory to avoid him finishing with the lowest win rate of any West Ham manager in history.
It wasn’t enough to impress the West Ham board, hence him being currently available. It would arguably be a bad move for Stoke if they do pursue it, Moyes is far too similar to the old regime that saw the club be relegated in the first place. The club needs to move away from that mindset, but the board seems to prefer to stick with what they know and Stoke’s CEO Tony Scholes worked with Moyes at Preston North End, so don’t be surprised to see this come off.
3. Mick McCarthy
Mick McCarthy has already publicly expressed an interest in the role and is believed to be on the club's shortlist. Also currently available after being sacked by Ipswich Town, McCarthy offers a cheap, safe option, with tons of Championship experience.
He’s the only manager on the shortlist who fits the bill of having proven promotion experience at this level. Mick McCarthy has twice won the Championship, once with Wolves and once with Sunderland. He has spent the majority of his career in the Championship, and offers the same kind of safety that someone like Mark Hughes offered in the Premier League.
He is seemingly the only option with the relevant honours and that should raise him above the other candidates. It’s still a pretty uninspiring option though and it’s been a while now since Mick McCarthy has tasted success. McCarthy only managed one play off finish in six years at Ipswich, and was finally let go after another disappointing season ended in 12th place.
There are definitely Championship managers who have earned more, but of the favourites Stoke have identified McCarthy is the most qualified for the position.
4. Sam Allardyce
Stoke is a club almost tailor-made for Sam Allardyce, always targeting stability and favouring a British manager at the helm, it’s a mystery that he hasn’t already been in charge. It wouldn’t take too much work in summer for Allardyce to mould this team in his image, and he is arguably the most accomplished of the bunch. Again though, he strongly represents a style that hasn’t delivered for Stoke for years and something they should be moving away from.
Allardyce is a specialist in stability and avoiding relegation but doesn’t have a lot experience actually winning things or targeting promotions. He’s also sure to have more suitors in the Premier League once the season gets under way and a few strugglers begin to emerge.
Allardyce has actually already retired from football before accepting a return to take over at Everton. With it proving to be a rocky road for him, it remains to be seen how eager he would be to jump into football again, especially if it meant dropping down a level.
5. Graham Potter
Graham Potter is a lot of fan's pick of the bunch, but is the least likely to take over at Stoke. Not only is his name synonymous with the Potters, he’s from the local area and he represented Stoke in the mid 90’s during his playing career. He is the youngest of the bunch and has already expressed an interest in the job back in January.
Potter took over his first managerial role in charge of Ostersunds FK when they were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. Potter guided the club to three promotions, into the Swedish top flight and into the Europa League; a European during which they famously beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates in the Europa League this year.
He is eager to switch manage club in England, and does have a track record of promotion. He is currently untested outside of the Swedish leagues however, and that will likely prove too much of a risk for the Stoke City board, who like to know what they’re getting. Potter could still turn up down the bet365 Stadium next season though as he is being heavily linked with the vacant Swansea position. Given Stoke's recent record of disposing of managers, if Potter does make the switch to Swansea they are likely to beat Stoke to promotion next season.