Stoke City haven’t had the best of 2017s.
The club fell over the line last season, having solidified their Premier League season once again and went into the season drastically under-prepared.
The modern day Stoke City
Mark Hughes men have become Premier League stalwarts, trying to push for more, but simply not being good enough.
Hughes has done a very good job with the Potters. He got the club to their highest ever Premier League finish of ninth and has aimed to reinvent the football that they play, to promote a more attractive brand.
However, the wheels somewhat fell off last season, finishing a disappointing 13th.
There’s a feeling around the club that they no longer know what they are, and where they should be.
They may play more attractive football than they did under Tony Pulis, however, there is an identity crisis within the side, as they often revert to type when it isn’t going their way.
Consistency is key
The attractive and creative football they play is reliant on a wealth of supremely talented individuals, who offer very little consistency. And that is why the season long loan signing of PSG forward Jese is a risk.
Stoke City currently have more Champions League winners than any other squad in the Premier League, including Jese. And yet, rather than still be playing for some of the greatest sides in Europe, they are plying their trade at, no disrespect, an extremely average Premier League side. The talent is there, the application is not.
And that is why signing Jese, among their other captures this summer is so bizarre.
Bizarre transfer strategy
Kurt Zouma has been on the periphery of the Chelsea squad for well over a year. How ready is he to be playing regular Premier League football? Darren Fletcher has been a Premier League legend in many ways, but is certainly on his way out and adds little to what Hughes already has.
Bruno Martins Indi and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, along with Jesé are talented players who struggle to apply it on a regular basis. They join the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan and Ibrahim Afellay who suffer from the same issues.
There is no doubt Jesé is an extremely talented player. He was deemed as having more potential than Alvaro Morata, another Real Madrid youth product who has joined the Premier League this season. Instead, Jesé has fallen down into mid table obscurity. That confidence he had as a youngster helped garner his reputation. Now it is seen as cocky and a hinderance.
Yet Stoke seem to welcome this calibre of player with open arms. Perhaps there is a real belief that Hughes can be the one to get the best from them.
How long does potential last?
But surely, by now, there has to be a realisation that certain players simply don’t have the required mentality to deliver consistently. It means Stoke’s squad is flooded with players who will perform a 9/10 one week, but a five or below for the next six.
It is an extremely dangerous concoction which can leave the club perilously close to the relegation places, needing experienced heads who can perform when the going gets tough, rather than star studded names who aren’t as good as they think.
Surely Stoke, therefore, need players who have been playing regular, Premier League football, who Hughes can trust to get the job done regularly.
Instead, the club has purchased players who might look great on FIFA, and sell a lot of shirts in the club shop. But can they finally prove they have the mettle to take this club to the next level, or drag it down to the depths of the Championship?
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