Stoke caretaker manager Dean Holden left the club after recording a 1-0 win at Blackburn – paving the way for the seemingly imminent appointment of Alex Neil.
Holden, previously an assistant to sacked Michael O’Neill, took charge of the game at Ewood Park, but a statement from the club after the game confirmed his departure.
In front of Neil watching, Stoke showed both sides of his character, producing a dominating first-half display that saw them lead through Lewis Baker’s superb 25-yard strike – the least they deserved after a display energetic that brought clear chances for Liam Delap, Aden Flint and Jacob Brown.
After the restart they showed heart and desire to protect the shaky lead against an improved Blackburn and were keen to register just their fourth road win of 2022 and their second
victory this season, giving Stoke a platform to build on under their next manager.
Holden thought the win showed just how good Stoke could be.
He said: “It’s the basis of a very good team. They haven’t shown it enough, especially this season. Just disappointed for him that he couldn’t go all the way because today you can see the quality we have.
“In the first half we knew Blackburn had a good style of football, we knew we could catch them up the pitch, which we’ve done countless times. Probably should have made it 2-0 really. .
“We knew they were going to throw everything at us in the second half. Jack (Bonham) had a save to make, in the first half, and it was a good save. Other than that, there were lots of blocks, but Jack didn’t have much to do.
“The new manager who arrives is going to have a very good group of players and, more importantly, a very good group of personnel to push this club where it needs to go.
“We showed what a good team we could be with the ball in the first half, and in the second half we defended resolutely.”
A short statement from the club about four and a half hours after the game announced Holden’s departure.
Co-chairman John Coates said: “The professionalism Dean has brought to his position with us has never been more evident (than) in the past 48 hours, culminating in guiding us to victory at Blackburn this post- midday.
“We are grateful for his efforts over the past 16 months and wish him every success for the future.”
Rovers were condemned to their first home loss of the season and a third straight loss for the first time since February 2021.
Manager Jon Dahl Tomasson admitted the first half wasn’t good enough.
He said: “We are disappointed with the result. The performance, I think we should have more if you see the performance.
“It can be difficult when a club changes coach and we didn’t play a good game in the first half. Our decision-making and our intensity, we were a bit passive that way. We took some Bad decisions on the ball and off the ball Stoke had chances but not many The boys were disappointed in the first half.
“The second half was a great half. We created chances, we blocked shots, we had the fans with us, a lot of intensity and good football. The only thing missing was a goal, so we have to learn from that. We have to start better. I told them that.
“We have to start from the first minute. Even if you don’t know exactly which formation the opponents will use, the boys have been prepared for three different formations, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
“It wasn’t good enough.”