Football Expert & Columnist
Stoke City problems have been building, says Danny Higginbotham
Last Updated: 23/08/18 12:36pm
Danny Higginbotham believes Stoke’s problems have been mounting for the last couple of years as they continue to struggle on their return to the Sky Bet Championship.
Gary Rowett's side are expected to be among the promotion contenders this season but have started badly, with their 3-0 home defeat to Wigan on Wednesday night leaving them third-bottom with just two points from their opening four matches.
The Stoke fans are understandably frustrated by their poor start but Higginbotham - who played for the Potters in two different spells - believes their problems started some time ago.
"It's not been overnight. It's something that slowly but surely started to happen the last couple of seasons in the Premier League," he told Sky Sports News.
"Stoke supporters' frustration isn't just over the first two home games of the season, it's from last season as well, when their home form was poor.
"Teams are looking at Stoke and thinking they are there to be got at. They have been trying to play out from the back but their out ball has not been quick enough.
"Peter Crouch came on at the weekend and I would be very surprised if he didn't start the next game.
"He has the ability to bring players in [to the game] in the Championship but also to score a lot of goals as well."
The defeat to Wigan ended with some supporters taunting Rowett with chants of "you're getting sacked in the morning", but Higginbotham feels the manager is bearing the brunt of a continual decline in the club's fortunes.
"Gary Rowett is now the manager and he is getting the frustration of the supporters," added Higginbotham.
"For 10 years they were in the Premier League and very settled in the Premier League as well. Now they have been relegated, the crowds have started to go down and it's a tough situation.
"The Championship since Stoke were last in it has gone forward so much and that was shown last season, when all three promoted teams stayed in the Premier League.
"It's going to be a tough season for them."