Yesterday was a day which saw Stoke City’s pre-match preparations forcing a minor re-think after Saturday’s opponents Middlesbrough replaced manager Jonathan Woodgate with the familiar figure of Neil Warnock.
A sign of their desperation, perhaps, after losing 3-0 at the weekend to leave them above the bottom three on goal difference alone from Hull.
Elsewhere, Stoke have begun the process of refunding fans for certain games, while any interest the club has in Hibernian winger Martin Boyle could hit a snag over a reported £1m valuation.
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FANS REACT TO WARNOCK ARRIVAL
One of our colleagues couldn’t contain himself at the news that his beloved club was changing direction by ditching managerial rookie Jonathan Woodgate for 71 year-old Neil Warnock.
David Broome, head of production for the Staffordshire Newsletter and Leek Post and Times, wrote: “Neil Warnock will probably keep us up this season. And (heaven forbid) he stays in charge beyond the end of the campaign, he might even get us punching at the top end of the Championship next season.
“But his arrival is basically an abandonment of everything the board said they wanted. Woodgate, and his players, have spoken out this season about how difficult the transition was from Pulis-ball. Now it looks as though we are throwing all that out and asking the players to change the way they play again.”
Meanwhile, Stoke fans have been reacting to the news and the impact it might have on Saturday’s game at the bet365.
Here’s three of the shorter opinions given…
Gareth Barnes: Quality championship manager.
Andrew Bullock: Can’t predict their tactics or even their formation now.
Leigh Brownsword: Can’t stand the man – so ungracious in defeat. Hope we stuff em.
WILL STOKE LANCE THIS BOYLE?
Stoke have been linked with increasing enthusiasm north of the border to the Hibernian winger Martin Boyle.
But the touted £1m figure is an awful lot for a 27 year-old winger with only a year left on his current deal.
Stoke might get round that with a structured deal based on appearances and success, but it still remains a lot of money in the current climate.
It also begs the question whether any move for Boyle would be accompanied by a willingness to sell one of the club’s existing wide men.
Tom Ince and James McClean are the men mainly at the crease as things stand, but Michael O’Neill has also played Nick Powell and Tyrese Campbell wide, while young Thibaud Verlinden hopes to make a comeback from a cruciate knee ligament injury next season.
FANS INVITED TO PUT IN FOR REFUNDS
Stoke City have begun the process for refunding their fans who bought tickets for certain games.
Their statement read: “Any supporter who purchased tickets for the Reading and Wigan away games and Middlesbrough, Barnsley, Birmingham City and Brentford home games using a debit or credit card, either online or over the phone, will automatically be refunded the full price of the ticket and booking fee.
“The refund amount will be credited to the card used to make the purchase.
“Fans who paid with cash or card at the ticket office window for their tickets will be refunded by bank transfer and should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, bank account number and bank sort code.
“Please note transaction fees will not be refunded and supporters do not need to return their paper tickets as they are no longer valid.
“Season Card holders who wish to claim a refund for the final four home games of the 19/20 season can do so online at tickets.stokecityfc.com.”