Winless start frustrates Rowett

Gary Rowett has demanded a big improvement from his Stoke City players when the Potters take on Wigan Athletic on Wednesday.

Stoke had been one of the pre-season favourites to be promoted from the Championship this term but have failed to win any of their first three matches in the second tier.

Former Burton Albion, Birmingham City and Derby County boss Rowett admits he has been disappointed by his side's start to the campaign but believes there is enough quality in the squad to start climbing the table in the near future.

Stoke are currently available at 3/1 to be promoted this season and 6/5 to beat the Latics.

"My frustration is that after a disappointing season last season we wanted to give the fans some early positivity," said Rowett.

"I hope that over the summer they were enthused by what we were trying to do in terms of the signings we made and we wanted to hit the ground running. Whilst it's still very, very early days we haven't managed to do that yet.

"But the fact that they have shown up in such big numbers and the fact that they have been in such great voice regardless of how the games have panned out will only help us in the long term.

"What the team have got to do is give them something in return."

Bielsa desperate for good start

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa hopes he can give the club's fans the success they crave this season.

Leeds have not been in the Premier League since the disastrous 2003/04 campaign since when the West Yorkshire side have had three seasons languishing in League One.

The Whites are 7/2 to be promoted this season though while they are available at 9/5 to beat Stoke City in their first Championship match of the campaign on Sunday. The Potters are 11/8 to make an immediate return to the top-flight.

Bielsa said: "There is always tension when a competition begins. If there was no tension I would be worried. The first game is the first challenge where we can show what we can do.

"I'm pleased with all of the work we have done so far. My message to the players is always the same, we have to show our fans we are ambitious.

"We have to prove that the players are better than was shown last season and we will get conclusions once the competition begins.

"I was well received by the fans. Of course I feel a big responsibility and I hope I will be able to give the Leeds fans the answers they are expecting from me."

Wagner thanks departing Ince

David Wagner has thanked Tom Ince for his efforts during his time at Huddersfield Town after allowing the winger to join Stoke City.

The 26-year-old moves to the us Stadium for an initial £10million transfer fee, which could increase by a further £2million after add-ons.

Ince joined the Terriers last summer and played a key role in keeping the club in the Premier League. He scored three goals in all competitions for Wagner's team, including a crucial late winner against Watford.

Head coach Wagner said: "Incey has got a lot of game time for us in the last season and played a big role in helping us to achieve our aim of staying in the Premier League.

"The value of this deal made sense for us. Tom is a good player, but I am comfortable that we have good options in the wide positions.

"We would like to thank Tom for all his efforts and hard work in the last season and wish him the very best for the future."

Huddersfield are 6/5 to be relegated from the Premier League in 2018/19 and 5/1 to beat Chelsea in their first game of the campaign on 11th August. Meanwhile, Stoke City are available are 6/4 to be promoted from the Championship this term.

McClean eyes instant return

Republic of Ireland international James McClean is thrilled to be teaming up with Stoke City boss Gary Rowett at the us Stadium.

The 29-year-old has joined the Potters from West Brom, who were also relegated from the Premier League last season, in a £5million deal.

McClean, who has signed a four-year contract, is Stoke's fourth signing of the summer following the arrivals of Adam Federici, Benik Afobe and Oghenekaro Etebo.

He said: "I really do think that Stoke are well placed for the future and that was one of the key reasons behind my decision to come here.

"It's nice when you know that the manager rates you so highly and as soon as he got the job at Stoke he was looking to bring me here. It's up to me to repay the faith he's shown in me. I can't wait to get started."

McClean played for Sunderland and Wigan Athletic before signing for the Baggies three years ago in a £1.5million deal.

He found the net four times in 99 Premier League appearances for Albion in his three seasons at The Hawthorns.

Stoke City can be backed at 6/4 to be promoted from the Championship in 2018/19 while West Brom are available at 5/2 to go up.

Shaqiri: I’m leaving Stoke

Xherdan Shaqiri has confirmed that he will be leaving Stoke City this summer while the Potters have released Glen Johnson and Stephen Ireland.

Switzerland international Shaqiri is being linked with Everton and Tottenham, while Southampton, and a reunion with former Stoke boss Mark Hughes, is also a possibility.

"Of course, yes, it is no longer a secret that I will leave Stoke City," Shaqiri said. "I think the league is perfect for me.

"I would love to stay in England, but I do not want to rule anything out. It is the best league with the best players – simple."

Shaqiri is believed to have a release clause in his contract of approximately £12million.

Meanwhile, former England international Johnson leaves the us Stadium after making 64 appearances in three years with the club.

Ireland was able to make just 25 starts in five seasons with Stoke due to injury problems.

Stoke, who were relegated from the Premier League this season, are also releasing Under-23 players Shola Ayoola, Lewis Banks, Ryan Hill, Eddy Lecygne and Luis Da Silva.

Stoke are 9/4 to bounce back to the top-flight by being promoted from the Championship in 2018/19, while Middlesbrough are 3/1 to go up, Norwich City 7/1 and West Brom 5/2.

Rowett plans to revive Potters

Gary Rowett says an immediate return to the Premier League for Stoke City is his target after being confirmed as the Potters' new manager.

The 44-year-old succeeds Paul Lambert who left the us Stadium last week after failing to keep the club in the top-flight.

Stoke, who had started the campaign with Mark Hughes as their manager, had spent the last decade in the Premier League and Rowett believes there is everything in place to mount a serious promotion push in 2018/19.

"This has come around quite quickly but I am absolutely delighted to make the move to such an ambitious football club," he said.

"This is a club that has had amazing stability over the years, has been established in the Premier League for some time and the challenge for me now is, of course, to get Stoke City back into that division as soon as possible.

"My ambition has always been to one day manage in the Premier League and, having been in the Championship for three years now, I feel this is a great opportunity for me to do that."

Rowett had been in charge at Derby County since March 2017 but decided to leave the Rams after they were beaten by Fulham in the Championship play-offs earlier this month.

Rowett had been surprisingly axed by Birmingham City in December 2016 despite lifting the club into the top half of the Championship. Before taking charge at St Andrew's he had been the manager of Burton Albion.

During his playing career he starred for Cambridge United, Derby, Birmingham City, Leicester City, Charlton Athletic and Burton.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa are 14/1 to beat Fulham 2-0 in Saturday's Championship play-of final. The Cottagers are 11/2 to win the Wembley clash 1-0.

Lambert leaves relegated Stoke

Paul Lambert has left his position as manager of Stoke City by mutual consent after failing to keep the Potters in the Premier League.

The former Aston Villa and Norwich City boss signed a two-and-a-half-year contract in January when he succeeded Mark Hughes in the us Stadium hot-seat.

Stoke were 18th in the Premier League table, a point away from safety, when Lambert was appointed, but they won only seven top-flight matches all season and were relegated earlier this month after losing 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace.

The Potters, who won at Swansea City on the final day of the campaign, only triumphed in two of Lambert's 15 games in charge.

A statement on Stoke City's official website read: "The club would like to thank Paul for his work over the past four months and wish him well for the future.

"Whilst he was unable to guide us to Premier League safety after being appointed in January, it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort, professionalism and dedication on his part.

"The club will appoint a replacement as soon as possible in order to give the new manager time to prepare for the challenge of the 2018/19 season in the Championship."

In 2018/19, Cardiff City are 4/5 to be relegated from the Premier League, while Southampton are 7/1 to go down, Crystal Palace 6/1 and Wolves 5/1.

Emotions Run High on a Sad Day

Swansea City 1-2 Stoke City

The tone for the afternoon was set inside two minutes.

That’s how long it took both sets of fans to chant ‘going down’ – a humorous and realistic perspective from supporters of both Stoke (already down) and Swansea whose optimism their heroes could survive was never more than hopeful.

The South-Wales club required one of the biggest turnarounds in football games – a big win, alongside a big defeat for Southampton – to have any chance of staying up and the betting odds were not in their favour.

Yet the chances of an eventful live betting afternoon briefly lifted when Andre Ayew laid the ball off to Andy King – a midfielder who was celebrating the Premier League title with Leicester two years ago – to open the scoring in the 14th minute.

That was as bright as it got, however, for the home side whose seven-season stay in the top flight has come to an end, despite a major improvement since Carlos Carvalhal took charge in the new year (including impressive victories over Liverpool and Arsenal).

They now join Stoke in the Championship next season and also share a theme of discontent with the club’s board – albeit a protest before kick-off against the Swansea board and owners was little more than underwhelming.

After King opened the scoring, a hush descended on the home ground when Badou Ndiaye levelled just past the half hour. Veteran Peter Crouch added a second before the break and even a Lukas Fabianski penalty save to deny Xherdan Shaqiri could not rouse the hosts from their slumber.

A sad afternoon all round for Swansea who not only said farewell to the Premier League after seven years but also to club stalwarts Leon Britton and Angel Rangel, made skipper for the day.

Britton has played for the club in each of the four divisions and Rangel was making his 374th and final appearance for them.

If Stoke fans had been playing, perhaps mission impossible would have been possible.

Certainly, they were not too enamoured by ex-boss Mark Hughes keeping Southampton up at the expense of Swansea and joined in the home chants of ‘we want 10’ – a reference to the goal difference swing required.

Yet professional pride dictated an improved showing from Stoke who, perhaps, were harsh to get shut of Hughes so soon into the new year.

This victory at least has spared them the ignominy of finishing the season bottom of the table.

For both these clubs, however, the gallows humour was the only bright side as rebuilding begins in the Championship.

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Swans won’t give up

Manager Carlos Carvalhal is adamant Swansea City won't concede in their relegation battle despite a damaging home loss against Southampton.

The Saints took a big step towards safety on Tuesday evening as Manolo Gabbiadini scored the only goal of a tense affair at the Liberty Stadium.

Saints now enjoy a three-point cushion over Swansea with just one game left to play. Their goal difference advantage over the Swans means Mark Hughes' team will have to lose to Manchester City on Sunday, while Carvalhal and his men must beat relegated Stoke and hope for a ten-goal swing between the teams.

Swansea's best hope now may be that 17th placed Huddersfield lose at Chelsea on Wednesday evening and again at home to Arsenal on Sunday.

Those results, coupled with a Swansea win over Stoke at the Liberty on Sunday, would be enough for the Welsh team to survive on goal difference.

For Carvalhal it was hard to criticise his players despite their failure to score at home for the eighth time this season, a Premier League high.

"It was a push to us because the boys did everything in the game. They played with a fantastic attitude," Carvalhal said.

"We played more long balls than normal but it is normal in this kind of situation with the emotion. The goalkeeper made two or three fantastic saves.

"I will not put the fault in my players, I never do this. I assume responsibility. It is not a question that they are not good enough, we created chances. We did our maximum, the players did their maximum but we did not score for whatever reason."

Swansea are 7/10 to beat Stoke on Sunday, with the draw 5/2 and the away side 9/2. Carvalhal hopes they'll still have a chance going into that game and he isn't ready to give up.

"In this moment we are not relegated. Tomorrow, we don't know. Definitely we don't depend on ourselves," he added.

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Stoke is Right Down as Super Eagles Fly to Safety

Stoke City 1-2 Crystal Palace

Two second half goals guaranteed Roy Hodgson’s Eagles Premier League survival, but it meant misery for Stoke who head to the Championship.

After Xherdan Shaqiri gave the Potters a first half lead, home fans hoped their heroes could defy betting odds with a daring escape, but if they backed Stoke with their football bets it was double trouble.

Palace had won six of the nine previous Premier League football games between these two, but for a while it seemed the Potters would keep alive their hopes of prolonging a ten-year stay in the Premier League.

The first half was a nervous affair short on quality, though Joe Allen was at his industrious best at the heart of Stoke’s midfield; and the first big chance came on 22 minutes when Xherdan Shaqiri crossed for Mame Biram Diouf who glanced his header agonisingly wide. But the roof came off the Stadium minutes before half time, when Shaqiri won a free-kick, and then hit a peach into the top corner, with a little help from Ruben Loftus Cheek’s deflection.

It was always going to be a torturous second half for Stoke fans and, after Palace began to take control, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha causing panic in the Stoke defence, it was no surprise when the Eagles drew level. James McArthur was the unlikely finisher of a sweeping attack which silenced the Stoke faithful, knowing they had to climb the mountain again.

But they never even made base camp, as Palace looked the more likely to score, Zaha and Christian Benteke missing good chances. And then, with five minutes on the clock Patrick Van Aanholt finally put the Potters out of their misery.

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