Stoke City’s first team players and manager Alex Neil won’t be sitting completely idle over the World Cup break. The senior team will instead be heading off to Dubai to continue their work before play resumes on December 10th in the Championship.
Per multiple media reports, the trip to Dubai for Stoke City will come next week, after the players and coaches are given a week-off to rest. The seven day trip for The Potters will include three friendlies, along with multiple training sessions.
There’s no official word yet on if any first team players will be absent from the training camp due to injury or other reasons. One player we do know that won’t be there is center-back Harry Souttar who is playing for Australia in the World Cup.
Is the Trip to Dubai a Good Idea for Neil and Stoke City?
Given Stoke City’s position on the table (17th), a week of friendlies and training sessions makes a lot of sense for the club. After all, The Potters have shown over the first half of the season that there’s still a lot of work to do on the training pitch.
Stoke City at the World Cup break sit at 19th in the Championship with 19 goals scored. The club also sits near the bottom of the league at 18th in goals conceded with 27.
To make matters worse, The Potters have been a very poor home team this season. Stoke City so far at Bet365 Stadium are second to last in the Championship with only three wins coming at home.
If Stoke City hopes to reverse those trends out of the break, they’ll need to make sure they’re extra sharp — That’s why a trip abroad may seem luxurious and over the top, but one that is needed for the club.
A training camp to work on fundamentals, hammer home Alex Neil’s vision tactically, and block out some of the noise/criticism could be just what the doctor ordered for The Potters. Plus, the trip could give Neil an even better look at who he can trust and not trust in his starting XI after the break.
The Possible Negative of the Trip for Alex Neil
There is one negative that could pop-up in the long-term for Stoke City’s trip to Dubai and it’s not even for the club overall. It has to do with Neil’s perception as a manager.
It has also been reported from media outlets that Neil’s former club Sunderland, will also be making a training camp trip to Dubai during the World Cup. The trip for Sunderland, by Neil’s own admission, was his idea as well.
Which then lies a possible issue long-term for Alex Neil’s perception as a manager. If the trip seemingly works for Stoke City (or maybe even Sunderland), it looks like Neil is a genius. If the trip doesn’t work however, then there’s always the risk that Neil will come off as an unoriginal thinker.
If the trip doesn’t seemingly work and Stoke City come of the break ice cold, the narrative could be that Neil comes off as incompetent when it comes to any original Stoke City ideas.
Additionally, if the trip doesn’t work there will be a lot of questions (there’s already some questions) of why Dubai?
So far there’s nothing to suggest there’s any truth to any of those notions though. And Dubai like any other place in the world can be seen as a vacation spot or a place to get work done. But, a bad December and January after a Dubai trip could change those narratives around the manager if things go south for Neil.