‘Relieved’ – Stoke City legend gives thumbs up to Michael O’Neill’s first purchase



Stoke City legend Mike Pejic has cheered Michael O’Neill’s early transfer business and the arrival of left-back Morgan Fox.

The former left-back and current pundit has been clear that Stoke have been unbalanced since ushering Erik Pieters out in January 2019, with the position filled by stand-ins including centre-back Bruno Martins Indi.

O’Neill tried to resolve the situation mid-season but was able to do it with his first signing of the summer, bringing in Fox as a free agent after leaving Sheffield Wednesday.

“I’m relieved,” said Pejic. “It’s one slot that desperately needed attention and now the manager can look at other things.

“We have had fill-ins but you need a genuine left-back, a left footer who gives balance to that side. We had Sam Clucas in left midfield and James McClean outside him but without a left-back behind them, that three can’t function as well as it should  It’s a weakness which drags other players out of position.

“It will be interesting to see what’s going to happen now with Martins Indi and whether we have someone else coming through to challenge. Josh Tymon is good going forward but needs defensive work and this might be the time to work on that.”

O’Neill finished the season playing with McClean as left wing-back and Martins Indi as one of three centre-halves but his preference has been a version of 4-3-3.

Pejic said: “If you’re short in any position then the balance effects the whole team performance. You’re giving an advantage to the opposition before you even kick-off. It’s so important you have the right player for each role.  

“You need genuine players in genuine positions.”





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