Winless And Luckless: Huddersfield clash is last chance saloon for Stoke City boss Nathan Jones

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 01 October 2019, 09:06

When luck is not on your side, the world of football management is an incredibly cruel industry to be in. Just ask Nathan Jones, whose own luck completely deserted him the moment he switched Luton Town for Stoke City at the start of the year.

Jones was flying at Luton, with whom he led into League One, before opting to further his own managerial career path with Stoke half-way through the 2018/19 campaign, despite Luton’s lofty second-place standing in the third-tier.

That was the plan anyway.

The Hatters, under Mick Harford, went on to achieve their second successive promotion, and at the time of writing Graeme Jones’ troops are eight points and seven places better off than his namesakes' Stoke who are rock-bottom of the Championship with two points from a possible 27 this season.

Jones arrived at the Britannia brimming with ambition, energy and a penchant for free-flowing, attacking football. Fast-forward nine months and he appears crestfallen in each and every pre-and-post match interview he has to endure.

He’s not only forgotten what it feels like to win, but the smile has been permanently wiped off his face. In fact, it’s not been seen in Staffordshire since early March when the club last won on home soil - 10 Britannia games without a win represents the worst run in the club’s 156-year history.

From a neutral perspective, it’s hard not to feel for him, he’s absolutely gutted at how his Stoke tenure has panned out so far.

Jones is a talented manager, who worked wonders at Luton, yet like Gary Rowett, Paul Lambert and Mark Hughes - towards the end of his tenure - before him, he’s struggled to conjure up a winning formula at Stoke, who have registered just three wins from 29 Championship games since his arrival. The last of which dates back 15 winless games to April.

To an extent Jones is very fortunate to still be in a job, managers have been sacked for far less and the next Stoke manager market has had its doors wide open for some time now.

However, so far Stoke’s hierarchy have been determined not to make a fourth managerial switch in just 21 months.

“If it wasn’t these owners I would be gone because results haven’t been good enough,” revealed Jones on Monday [Stoke Sentinel].

That and the fact that Jones has also been desperately unlucky. Frequent, and alarmingly poor, individual errors have cost his side dear this season. In almost every game there’s an untimely misplaced pass, shocking error at the back, or abrupt lapse in communication which inevitably has led to a goal.

As we well know the managerial arena is not one for sympathy and excuses, and if results are rotten there’s only one scapegoat: The Gaffer.

A defeat at home to fellow winless Championship side Huddersfield on Tuesday - Danny Cowley’s men are one place above Stoke but level on points - would undoubtedly spell the end for Jones, while a point is unlikely to be enough to save his skin either. Even a win may only act as a brief respite, considering that the Potters face three of the top-7 up next.

However, as we’ve seen so many times before a win could potentially work wonders for a downbeat squad's confidence and self-belief, after all if anyone deserves a stroke of luck at the moment it’s Jones.

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