Jack Butland has not held back after tearing into Stoke’s board of directors and a number of their big-money recruits following their relegation from the Premier League.
The Potters’ 10-year stay in the top flight came to an end on Saturday when a 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace saw them become the first side this season relegated to the Championship.
A disastrous season had seen the club change managers in a bid to stem the tide, but Butland – who alongside the club’s other star names, Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen – believes a lack of ambition from the Potters’ board is largely to blame for their demise.
Butland was visibly upset by Stoke’s relegation on Saturday and discussing their demise, he said: “The whole recruitment process needs looking at to be honest.
“We’ve gone into a game here – and over the past few months – with half the squad dotted around the world, not even involved.”
Butland did not name names, but it’s likely the large money spent on Saido Berahino and Kevin Wimmer – signed in January and August 2017 respectively, and whom have not featured in a matchday squad for some time – were part of his rebuke.
Ibrahim Afellay, who arrived in 2015, is another frozen out by boss Paul Lambert, while Jese Rodriguez has endured a troubled season on loan from PSG.
“There’s been transfers that aren’t even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance,” Butland added.
“You’ve got to look at that – what decisions are being made and the type of characters.
“Look at [January arrivals] Badou [Ndiaye] and Moritz Bauer – two positive signings. But you look at others and they’re not even here to have an input. It’s not because they were playing at the top of their game, because if they were they’d be here.
“Too many of the recent investments and over the years are completely unused and that’s unacceptable. So before anyone is signed and any changes happen that’s got to be looked at because it’s been farcical really.”
Lambert, who took charge in January, is now on a 13-match winless run, but Butland believes his manager has had an impossibly tough job to do given what has happened around him.
“I believe Paul’s had an extremely difficult job. He inherited a squad where, unfortunately, there was ill-discipline and players you cannot rely on,” he continued.
“Despite those scenarios he’s put together a really competitive side that’s willing to work for him.
“I believe the manager is the right man for the job.”
And Lambert has confirmed he wants to stay on as manager.
“I’d love to,” he said. “I think it’s a brilliant club. It’s got an incredibly strong infrastructure and great ownership, and they’ll bounce back.
“It’s incredibly tough. But this club’s in a really good position to rebuild properly.”