Stoke City

Stoke City

Championship

Next Stoke manager: Graham Potter rejects approach but main contenders revealed after Alex Neil sacking

Graham Potter

Graham Potter will not be Stoke City's new manager.

Former Chelsea boss Graham Potter will not be the next manager of Stoke City after turning down an approach from the Championship club to replace Alex Neil, TEAMtalk can reveal.

But John Eustace, Paul Heckingbottom, Dean Smith and Tony Mowbray are among the contenders to replace Alex Neil, who was sacked following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to bottom club Sheffield Wednesday.

Sources have informed TEAMtalk that the process to replace Neil commenced last week.

It is understood Stoke are seeking to make a quick appointment in time for the January transfer window and want a manager with experience of the division who can organise the team quickly and make an immediate impact.

Potter, who previously managed Swansea City in the Championship in 2018/19 before joining Premier League side Brighton, had been linked to the job having made 45 appearances for Stoke between 1993 and 1996.

However, the 48-year-old – without a role since being dismissed by Chelsea in April – will not be among the names in the frame for the hotseat after knocking back the club’s advances.

Former Stoke midfielder Eustace led Birmingham City to the Championship play-off positions in the early weeks of this season before being replaced by Wayne Rooney in a controversial move by the Blues’ new American owners.

He is known to be keen on the job and is regarded as the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, Heckingbottom achieved promotion to the Premier League with Sheffield United last season and is available after being sacked on December 5, having claimed just one win in the club’s first 14 matches of the season.

The former Barnsley and Leeds boss was replaced by fan favourite Chris Wilder, who returned the Blades to the top flight of English football in 2019 and guided the club to a second victory of the season over Brentford at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

READ MORE: Sources: Middlesbrough eye swoop for legendary Man Utd star’s son; Swansea, Stoke also keen

Dean Smith a contender to become Stoke manager

Smith was understood to be close to joining MLS side Charlotte FC last week, but is understood to prefer a move to Stoke at this stage.

The 52-year-old won the Championship play-off final with Aston Villa in 2019, establishing the club as a Premier League force before being replaced by former Ranger manager Steven Gerrard in 2021.

Smith went on to oversee the relegations of Norwich City and Leicester City from the Premier League in successive seasons.

Mowbray, meanwhile, is in the running having been dismissed by Sunderland last week. He had been in charge at the Stadium of Light for 15 months.

Stoke currently sit 20th in the Championship table having failed to register a victory since October and have lost each of their last four league matches on the spin.

Their recent poor form prompted chairman John Coates to act on Neil, who had been in charge since August 2022 having left Sunderland to sign a three-year contract with Stoke.

Stoke are back in Championship action on Tuesday night when they host Swansea City.