Meet the opposition | Stoke City
As Swansea City prepare to head to the Potteries on the weekend, we take a closer look at Stoke City.
What’s their story?
After a 10-year stint in the Premier League, Stoke are getting used to life in the Championship once more after suffering relegation from the top-flight alongside the Swans in 2018.
Earning promotion under Tony Pulis in 2008, the Potters had returned to the top division where they had not featured since 1985.
An FA Cup final appearance in 2011 led to a Europa League campaign for the Potters, whilst three successive ninth-place finishes were their best performances in the top-flight.
A 1972 League Cup victory brought them their only piece of major silverware, but their attempts to return to the Premier League have not matched expectations after keeping together what looks a strong squad on paper.
How’s their form?
Up and down. The Potters had won just three games all season before the departure of Nathan Jones, but have already won six under Michael O’Neill.
However, there is still a lack of consistency in the Potters’ results, even though they have climbed out of the relegation zone.
They have won four of their last 12 games in all competitions, losing six of them.
Who’s the boss?
Michael O’Neill. The former midfielder is best known for his excellent ongoing stint in charge of Northern Ireland, leading them to the knock-out stage of Euro 2016 and to within agonising sight of the 2018 World Cup.
The 50-year-old enjoyed a 20-year playing career, highlighted by spells with Newcastle United, Dundee United, Hibernian and Wigan Athletic, as well as 31 caps for his country.
Having initially moved into financial services after hanging up his boots, he soon became assistant manager at Cowdenbeath before striking out on his own at Brechin.
A switch to Shamrock Rovers followed where he made history by helping them become the first League of Ireland side to reach the group stage of European competition, after they stunned Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League play-off round.
He was named Stoke boss in November, and is currently combining the role with his international responsibilities.
Who are the key men?
Wales striker Sam Vokes and ex-Swansea midfielder Sam Clucas are the Potters top scorers this season with six goals apiece.
Forward Tyrese Campbell – son of former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin – has been a bright spark in a difficult season with five goals and an assist.
James McClean has hit a strong run of form under O’Neill and has contributed four goals and three assists.
They can also call on the experience of England international Jack Butland in goal.