Predictable Pulis pays price at Potters, Di Matteo fancied for Stoke

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It cannot be argued that Tony Pulis did a remarkable job at Stoke, firstly securing their promotion to the Premier League and then ensuring they remained steady in mid-table for the past five years.

However, there were certainly reasons to believe in the last campaign that the club were caught in a downward curve, winning only three league fixtures after Boxing Day to just avoid being caught in the relegation dogfight.

Part of the reason was that the club had become a lot more predictable and opponents had discovered how to appropriately play against their direct style, particularly at the Britannia Stadium, which was certainly not the fortress of old.

This was their worst home points tally this season in the past three seasons and they ended with a negative goal difference on their own patch for the first time in the Premier League.

It is slightly harsh on Pulis to depart, as he has clearly overachieved at Stoke, with the club reaching an FA Cup final under his guidance, as well as becoming permanent Premier League fixtures.

His problem is that his style will not have many admirers and it is hard to make an obvious case of where he may go next.

Stoke have the capacity to reinvent themselves, with the likes of Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam being more than adept at keeping the ball on the deck and the belief is that the club want to go in a different direction.

It is 5/2 from 7/2 that this new direction is down and the club is relegated, while Roberto Di Matteo heads the betting to replace Pulis at 9/4.

Mark Hughes comes next at 6/1, following by Gus Poyet at 8/1.

Further down the betting is the usual collection of managers linked with almost every post that becomes available. Alan Curbishley is 16/1, but Stoke is probably too northerly for him, with Mick McCarthy at 20/1 and Roy Keane 40/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.