(It has become clear that Lambert was not first…or even second choice but Stoke fans won’t care if he keeps them up this season)
It has been turbulent times for the Potters this season, currently sitting in 18th with a defence as watertight as a colander and a promising Goalkeeper in Jack Butland strangled by the poor defensive work it wasn’t a very happy festive period. Under-fire manager Mark Hughes was finally ousted from the helm of Stoke following the quite astonishing 2-1 loss in the FA Cup to Coventry City, a team currently 8th in League Two!
The Stoke hierarchy set their eyes on multiple managerial targets including current Ireland Boss Martin O’Neill, yet the 65-year-old after meeting the higher powers at Stoke decided that Stoke was not the best fit for his return to Club management.
So Stoke then looked across to Spain for their second choice to current Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores, the 52-year-old formerly of Watford was linked considerably with a move to the Bet 365 stadium but quelled the rumours stating “Here I have all I need. I am the coach and will be” so he will continue to manage the 14th placed Spanish outfit.
So with top targets, O’Neill and Sanchez Flores rejecting the chance to take the helm of Stoke had to cast their net wider, and after searching the managerial job centre realised there was only one man for the job. Step in Paul Lambert. A managerial signing that will divide supporters, in short Lambert has all the qualities to keep Stoke in the Premier League yet the supporters are unlikely to be too inspired by a manager whose previous two stints in management came in the Championship with Aston Villa and Wolves.
Really the managerial merry go round is in full swing with De Boer, Tony Pulis, Craig Shakespeare, Ronald Koeman, Paul Clement and now Mark Hughes all on the causality list this season, which is in stark contrast to the single sacking in the inaugural Premier League season.
(Mark Hughes cuts a sad figure in his last few press conferences as Stoke boss, he joins a growing list of managers ousted from power this season)
Stoke are due to travel to Old Trafford on Monday night to clash against 2nd place Manchester United yet Lambert will not take the helm of the club until Tuesday. In the meantime, Eddie Niedzwiecki will be at the helm of the club assisted by Kevin Russell and also Andy Quy as Stoke aim for damage limitation against Lukaku and co.
Lambert is a manager wherever he has gone has divided opinion, some believe that he is one of “the most underrated managers in England” while others, mainly Aston Villa fans stated “I hate his face and I want him out” during his stint in charge of the now Championship bound midlands club.
The Stoke hierarchy have already targeted problem areas for the ageing squad with young right-back Moritz Bauer signed from Rubin Kazan for £5 million adding depth to an area that has been a cause of concern with Premier League Veteran Glen Johnson injured for the season.
(Stoke fans will be excited by the signings the club are lining up, including Austrian right-back Moritz Bauer)
Surprisingly in January, the higher powers at Stoke are not stopping there as Stoke City target defensive midfielder William Vainqueur from Süper Lig club Antalyaspor, not to mention the Potters putting aside considerable funds for new boss Lambert to bring in players he feels he needs to stay in the top flight of English football.
Stoke fans will be happy to see the back of Mark Hughes, this season he has really failed to hit the heights that he set himself and Stoke City expect of him. The aim now for Lambert will be Premier league survival, and Stoke fans can look to Roy Hodgson’s appointment and Crystal Palace’s subsequent rise up the table that will get them excited for Lambert’s first game in charge against Huddersfield.