Stoke Focus – Who are the candidates to replace Tony Pulis?

Much has been written in recent days following the end of Tony Pulis’ reign at the Britannia, so it would be foolish to dissect what went wrong at the club in his last season. Attention must now turn to the identity of the Welshman’s successor and we can take a closer look at the candidates who could be charged with taking Stoke City to the next level.

Roberto Martinez – The Potters are certainly interested in the Spaniard, who is considering his future after being unable to save Wigan from relegation despite a famous maiden FA Cup success. After all the criticisms of Pulis’ negative, rather agricultural style of play, Martinez would appear to be the kind of successor the Potters are looking for, with the implementation of more progressive, fluid passing styles at both Swansea and then Wigan under his management.

The job he did at the DW Stadium in particular will resonate with the Potters’ hierarchy, as Martinez inherited a system and playing staff under previous boss Steve Bruce who played in a manner not all too different to Stoke’s current style.

Roberto Di Matteo – There has been talk of Rafael Benitez, the man who replaced Di Matteo at Chelsea, but really after his successful end to the season, the Spaniard would surely have bigger clubs on his agenda. However, Di Matteo could just be the perfect candidate for the Britannia hotseat.

The Italian is searching for a route back into top flight football after his dismissal from Stamford Bridge and he would certainly bring a more attacking style. It should not be forgotten that Chelsea’s most attractive football of the season was played under Di Matteo’s reign.

Mark Hughes – If ever a manager needed a job, it’s Hughes after his disastrous reign at Queens Park Rangers, which can take much of the blame for their eventual relegation. Hughes once left Fulham citing further ambitions than those he found at Craven Cottage and it remains to be seen whether he would be satisfied at the Britannia without major transfer funds.

The Welshman does not exactly bring free-flowing football either – certainly not at first if his track record at Blackburn, Manchester City, Fulham and QPR are anything to go by.

Phil Neville – An interesting choice. The 36-year-old could be hanging up his boots in the summer after leaving Everton and there were rumours in the days before Pulis’ departure that he was interested in bringing Neville to the Britannia in a player-coach role.

Perhaps a little too experienced to be given the rigours of the managerial hotseat, but Neville would certainly represent an enterprising and bold choice from Stoke chairman Peter Coates.

Steve Bould – A Stoke City fans’ favourite despite his obvious Arsenal connections, Bould could perhaps tick all the boxes the club hierarchy will be looking for. The work he has done defensively with the Gunners this season as assistant manager has been tremendous, with the Arsenal having the second-best record in the entire Premier League.

Additionally, Bould would certainly not be a defensive manager, schooled through the coaching ranks under Arsene Wenger. The 50-year-old was the youth team manager who let Jack Wilshere first flourish.

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