Jack Butland Attacks Stoke City's Recruitment Policy This Season
Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland has called out his side's 'farcical' recruitment policy this season.
After ten years in the top tier, Stoke City were the first team to be relegated from the Premier League this season, losing 2-1 at home to a rejuvenated Crystal Palace.
The team had cemented themselves as Premier League regulars throughout recent years and were even pushing for Europe at one point.
The term 'cold rainy night in Stoke' became synonymous with the club's style: gritty, tough to beat and dogged.
And yet in many respects, this does the Staffordshire club a disservice. It wasn't too long ago the club were playing some of the brightest, free-flowing football in the league, utilising the use of three attackers. It's easily forgotten, but for a period, they were like a sort of pint-sized Barcelona.
Ten years ago, Stoke celebrated promotion to the Premier League after a 0-0 draw with #LCFC, which condemned them to relegation to League One.
Since then, Leicester have won all three titles and Stoke have just been relegated.
- James Sharpe (@TheSharpeEnd) May 5, 2018
Impressive feat from Stoke to get relegated before West Brom.
- Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) May 5, 2018
This was done through their policy of buying marginalised talent; prospects on the fringes of massive clubs who had become outcasts. Players like: Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan Krkić, Xherdan Shaqiri, Sadio Berahino and Jese.
Without grouping the five together much - Shaqiri has been wonderful for the Potters at times - there is an overriding sense that their work-effort dropped off during this campaign, that names like Berahino and Afellay just stopped trying. It's landed the club back in the Championship.
"I think the whole recruitment process needs looking at," Butland said via the Independent. "There have been transfers that aren't even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance.
"Too many of the recent investments and over the years are completely unused and that's unacceptable.
"So before anyone is signed and any changes happen that's got to be looked at because it's been farcical really."
Butland has been one of Stoke's standout performers in recent years, and his comments probably aren't directed at the likes of Moritz Bauer and Badou N'Diaye, who have been solid additions.
The 25-year-old was visibly upset when the Potters' relegation was confirmed. He teared up on the pitch as Paul Lambert's men succumbed to a late goal from Patrick van Aanholt and their fate was sealed.
Where do you think it went wrong for Stoke City? Let us know in the comments below.