Where did it all go wrong for Nathan Jones at Stoke City?

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Appointed by the Potters back in January 2019, Nathan Jones came to the bet365 stadium after a successful three years at Luton Town where he guided the Hatters from National League mediocrity to League One title winners.

But where did it all go wrong for the Welsh coach?

A rough diamond?

Jones insisted in implementing his own style of play and club chairman Peter Coates restored faith in the manager by investing heavily in the squad.

New arrivals such as Millwall target man Lee Gregory and former Wolves club captain Danny Batth were two of the 17 new faces in Staffordshire as Jones attempted to re-build a squad in order to gain promotion back to the promised land.

Jones also decided to keep some of the big earners at the club, Welsh international Joe Allen, who reportedly earns £50k a week, and former England international goalkeeper Jack Butland, for whom they had many bids rejected from Premier League clubs of upwards of £20 million.

Jones initially started playing in a 4-4-2 diamond formation in his first games in charge as he attempted to change the footballing culture at a club that is known nationally for their ‘long ball and old-school’ tactics.

Liam Lindsay, who was purchased by Barnsley in the summer for a reported fee of £2.5 million, was the mainstay for a backline that was required to show ball-playing capabilities but also defensive stability.

However, only five league wins in nine months showed that the Potters struggled defensively throughout Jones’ tenure at the football club.

Nevertheless, the problems do not end there, big money signings made by previous manager Gary Rowett struggled as they failed to live up to their hefty price tags.

A glimmer of hope?

Despite the disastrous start to the 2019-20 season, Jones did record back to back wins against promotion chasing Swansea City and Fulham.

One standout performer from these two fixtures was Republic of Ireland under-21 international and defender Nathan Collins who was injected into the first team due to a combination of impressive performances in the under-23s and a collective of poor performances in the first team, especially from Lindsay and Batth.

Despite the two victories, Jones once again faced defeat against an impressive Sheffield Wednesday away and another road defeat at Millwall where Jones said City were ‘outfought and out-battled’ in what turned out to be his last game in charge of the club.

Change once again but who’s next?

Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones both sat the promotion exam and failed but who is next at the bet365 Stadium?

The hot favourite is Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neil at 2/1, the former Newcastle United midfielder has an impressive track record as manager of his home nation after qualifying them for Euro 2016 and progression to the knockout round, only losing to Wales in the round of 16.

The other podium favourites are occupied by Neil Harris and Chris Hughton.

Harris, a lifelong Millwall fan left his home-town club by mutual consent earlier in October and was straight away linked with the top job in Staffordshire while Hughton is a proven manager at this level of the English pyramid of football after leading Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion to automatic promotion to the Premier League in the 2009-10 and 2016-17 seasons, respectively.

An outside candidate for the job is Portuguese Jose Gomes at 13/2, who despite saving Reading from relegation to League 1 last season, was sacked by the club back on October ninth.

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