After a 10-season absence from the EFL, Stoke City are preparing for life in the Sky Bet Championship once again following their relegation from the Premier League.
It was in 2007/08 when the Potters were promoted from the second tier, finishing runners-up to West Bromwich Albion and ending a 23-year wait for a top-flight return.
Stoke enter the new campaign with a new man at the helm, appointing Gary Rowett shortly after their fate was confirmed.
Rowett enjoyed a successful period with Burton Albion between 2012 and 2014, laying a platform for their rise up the league ladder before departing for Birmingham City.
The Blues parted company with Rowett despite him turning around their form and taking them into the running for a play-off place. His next role was at Derby County, with whom he made more than a century of appearances as a player.
His one season with the Rams ended with defeat to Fulham in the Play-Off Semi-Final, and that’s when Stoke came calling.
Earlier this summer, Rowett said: “A Championship season can be a really exciting campaign, it can be a great division if you’re at the right end.
“We want to produce a side that [the fans] want to get behind. I hope they will enjoy what they see, I hope they get behind the team like they have done so often over the last few years, and we hope to put a team out there they can be proud about.
“What I can guarantee is a team that will fight for every second they are on the pitch and will play as a team and have a desire.”
James McClean arrived at the bet365 Stadium over the weekend and former EFL Young Player of the Year Tom Ince has since been added, making it five summer additions for Rowett. The Republic of Ireland international follows in the footsteps of striker Benik Afobe, goalkeeper Adam Federici and midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo — the latter linking up with the squad after a impressive showing in the World Cup with Nigeria.
There’s plenty of experience amongst the ranks, too. Ryan Shawcross is club captain, while the likes of Darren Fletcher, Peter Crouch and Joe Allen are just some of the names whose know-how could prove invaluable as the club look to bounce back immediately.
Stoke were one of the 12 founder members of the EFL when it was introduced in 1888.
The Potters’ one and only major trophy was won back in 1972, beating Chelsea 2-1 to claim the EFL Cup. They are also two-time winners of the EFL Trophy, which they won in 1992 and 2000 — and the club’s U21 side will feature in this season’s Checkatrade Trophy bidding to make it three.
There have been some legendary players to pull on the red and white stripes over the years. Back in 2013, to mark their 150th anniversary, the club produced a Greatest XI which featured the likes of Gordon Banks, Jimmy Greenhoff and Sir Stanley Matthews.
Nickname: The Potters
Ground: bet365 Stadium
Shirt colours: Red and white stripes
Last season: 19th — Premier League