Attitude and experience counts for Stoke City signings



Michael O’Neill has gone with experience in bringing in Steven Fletcher and John Obi Mikel.

When you sign a player in his thirties, a few eyebrows are raised and people start to say what’s this about? Is he a bit too old?

But managers like to sign players they know all about because they are confident they can get the best out of them.

When I came to Stoke City as manager, I wanted players I could rely on to improve us on and off the pitch. So, in came the likes of Vince Overson, Nigel Gleghorn and Ian Clarkson, all lads I had worked with at Birmingham.

I knew what I was going to get from them, they weren’t a gamble in my eyes.

Signing players isn’t an exact science. It used to be said that if a manager got seven out of ten signings right then that was good going. It’s probably more like five out of ten these days because more players are signed from abroad and the manager may not have seen them as much.

You are taking a chance and it’s fair to say Stoke have made a few signings that haven’t paid off over the last few years.

Plus all signings are not the same. Some are a bigger commitment than others with transfer fees and wages. At some clubs, the manager isn’t the one making the decisions about signings, although it still seems to be the manager who gets the sack if they go wrong!

As for the new lads at Stoke, John Obi Mikel has been in China and most recently was playing in Turkey with Trabzonspor. But he was in the Championship with Tony Pulis at Middlesbrough in 2018/19.

Fletcher was a regular in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday this past season so Michael O’Neill will know all about him.

But it was very interesting that the manager talked about having a three-hour conversation with him and came away satisfied with how keen the player was to come.

That’s encouraging that a player, now 33, is still hungry to achieve things.

Going back, all players wanted to play into their thirties because the money just wasn’t there in football.

Players had to keep going for as long as they could because the money they had earned to that point wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage.

But in this day and age then players really don’t need to play for that long. It’s been reported that Stoke have offered Fletcher £18,000 a week, which gives us an idea of the money good Championship players can command.

I don’t think the old saying of one last pay day applies because, in the modern era, every pay day is a good one and players don’t need to extend their careers into their thirties unless they are hungry to play.

That one last payday used to be a testimonial. But nowadays they aren’t required, and quite rightly so, because of the money players have been able to command.

Going back to my team at Stoke, none received a weekly wage that secured them. We are talking £10 or £20 a week either side of £200.





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