Stoke's Jack Butland calls out unreliable, 'ill-disciplined' teammates after relegation
Jack Butland has described some Stoke City players as "ill-disciplined" who manager Paul Lambert couldn't "rely on," while calling the relegated club's transfer moves "farcical."
Stoke's demotion to the Championship was confirmed on Saturday when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace, with Lambert unable to save them after he replaced Mark Hughes in January.
Butland has been one of the few players to emerge from this season with some credit, and it seems inevitable that he will leave the club in the summer. Arsenal, Liverpool and newly-promoted Wolves have been among the clubs linked to the England goalkeeper.
While Butland said it was too early to discuss his own future, he was remarkably candid about the factors that saw the Potters' 10-year stay in the Premier League come to an end despite the best efforts of Lambert.
"He's had an extremely difficult job," said Butland. "He inherited a squad where, unfortunately, there was ill-discipline and players you can not rely on.
"I think the whole recruitment process needs looking at to be honest. We've gone into a game [on Saturday]-- and over the last few months -- with half the squad dotted around the world not even involved.
"There's been transfers who aren't even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance. So you've got to look at that -- what decisions are being made and the type of characters.
"Too many of the recent investments have been completely unused and that's unacceptable, so for any one who has signed or any changes happen that's got to be looked at because it's been farcical really."
Butland didn't name names, but forward Jese Rodriguez arrived on loan last summer from PSG and made only eight starts, last appearing for Stoke in March. The club announced they were no longer paying his wages in April.
And there are some other notable players who were absent from Stoke's matchday squad and have not featured in one for some time.
That includes striker Saido Berahino and defender Kevin Wimmer, signed in January and August 2017 respectively.
Berahino, yet to score for Stoke, has been banished to the under-23s after arriving late once too often. It emerged in March that he and Wimmer had been placed on programmes to up their fitness levels.
Ibrahim Afellay, recruited in 2015, is another player who has been frozen out by boss Paul Lambert, who took charge in January.
Butland added: "[Lambert's] been limited to what options he has been able to use. Despite those scenarios he's put together a really competitive side that's willing to work for him.
"Players have run into the ground for him but we just lacked that bit of a cutting edge when we needed it and that's not down to the manager, that's down to other things.
"I believe the manager is the right man for the job. Given the resources and the time to build a squad that he needs to do what he wants, I believe he's right man."
Information from Press Association Sport was used in this story.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.