Posts Tagged ‘britanniastadium’

Puliser Prised – The end of an era

May 23rd, 2013 No comments

The most surprising aspect of the sacking of Tony Pulis was the startling ruthlessness with which it was carried out.  Several months ago when  Peter Coates announced publicly he’d never really approved of the finance involved in the Peter Crouch signing ,many sensed change was afoot.  What few could have predicted is less that 48 hours after the end of the season Tony Pulis would be dismissed.

Few could deny that in the second half of 2012/13 we hit a dead end.  The malaise was only  exacerbated by the manager’s refusal to change.  We paid a heavy price for Pulis’ stubborn obsession with work rate over craft… when the reliance on graft over guile wasn’t working there was blunt refusal to try any other method.  This was particularly frustrating because in phases Stoke  have been shown to be able to play a more expansive game yet we were dragged back to the artless lottery of the hopeless punt forward.  The mindset of supporters was hardly brightened when we saw clubs with smaller budgets press ahead and evolve…. and we certainly didn’t snag any Michu type bargains!  The age of the team was also an issue.  Few players under the age of 24 were ever considered for the starting line up.  This meant 1 the players being reared by the academy would simply be farmed out elsewhere and 2 as the players we buy are in their late 20s  rarely would any have  sell on value.  These issues and transfer policy in general may well have been the decisive factors in his sacking.

The initial question is whether or not his sacking was the correct course of action.  There is no doubt it contains an element of risk.  The fact remains Pulis had indeed kept us in the top flight for five seasons and has never been relegated as a manager.  However, that can be deemed null and void  when we remember in recent months we were sleepwalked to the edge of a relegation dogfight.  In the last eighteen months we have regressed at an alarming rate, there is no reason to believe we wouldn’t be sucked into the mire next year had he been given another season.  Another matter which has to be mentioned is the nature of the team and the seemingly limited ambition.  While survival and 40 points are undoubtedly a priority to hear those aims mentioned with such monotonous regularity, at the expense of anything else, left a bleak aura surrounding the team and club in general.  Being prepared to do little more than dig out 0-0 draws or perhaps sneak a 1-0 win was never going to be a thrilling spectacle.  Watching Stoke City play football became, at times, an awful way to spend time.  In that respect his sacking has saved him from himself… every time we played he damaged his own legacy.  So the point has to be made, despite the obvious risk his dismissal is the right decision.  A new direction is required and Tony Pulis has never displayed a tendency to embrace change.

Despite the miserable conclusion to his reign the point has to be made Tony Pulis has been a successful Stoke manager.  Promotion and Premier League stability should ensure applause if he manages a visiting team at the Britannia Stadium, not to mention the FA Cup Final and resulting European campaign.  It’s fair to say the vast majority of Stoke supporters wish Tony Pulis well in the next phase of his life and career.  Thank you and goodbye Tony.

Here’s a couple of videos

One showing TP after the Villa game

another as he leaves the pitch at the Brit for his final time as manager of Stoke City



5 down 35 to go, a piece of history, Wenger’s humiliation

September 1st, 2011 No comments

At West Brom on Sunday we registered our first win of the season.  It’d be pointless to deny that it was an horrendous game.  Understandably, the massed ranks of connoisseurs in the away end didn’t care too much!  Winning an away game is a great feeling.  Winning away with a threadbare squad after a game on the previous Thursday is a gargantuan effort from our players.  It’s worth noting that of all the English sides to play in European competition in midweek we were the only one to win at the weekend.  Poor though the game was it’s worth emphasising that West Brom were no better than Stoke.  In the second half  we contained their threat in comfort.  The nature of our late goal exacerbates the notion that West Brom were unlucky but in actual fact they looked as lacklustre as we did for most of the game.  At least we have the excuse of having played a game only three days before to fall back on!  In his post match comments Roy Hodgson suggested the goal should have been disallowed.  He may have a point but Ben Foster should have collected Walters’ ball with the minimum of fuss.  From the point where Shotton nicked the ball there was a second, that seemed to last an hour, where everyone stopped and looked to see if the ref had blown for a foul.  After gleefully placing the ball into the net Shotton himself looked back!  The whistle remained silent, the goal stood and we’d grabbed victory.  35 more points and we’ll be assured another season the top flight!

Despite the low key start to our season,it’s been a prosperous one.  To have played seven games, remained unbeaten, and only conceded two goals is better than many of would have dared dream of.  We’re soon to enter new territory with our Europa League campaign.  The draw could have been much kinder.  We face Dynamo Kiev,  Besiktas and Maccabi Haifa… three teams with European heritage.  To reach the next round would be a huge feat.  One thing in our favour is us… the fans.  The Guardian report of  the FC Thun game described The Britannia Stadium as an ‘unforgiving’ venue.  That perception needs to be  reinforced.  Home form will be crucial to our chances.  Our guttural roar is a huge asset.  Get the Brit shaking with that raucous din!

Eventually, the transfer window proved productive.  We need Wilson Palacios to inject some much needed drive into the midfield.  Palacios was a talented youngster when he arrived in England.  His career hit something of a dead end following his brother’s death.  He still has the drive and the talent in him.  Again, the supporters can play a part by simply helping  him to feel welcome!  Sing his name and make sure he knows he’s wanted.    The signing of Peter Crouch is our rock the city signing.  Big name player with international pedigree.  Some question the wisdom of this signing.  It is a risk but all signings have an element of risk.  There’s one way to win over the doubters and thats to be part of a winning team.   A few goals wouldn’t go amiss either!  Tony Pulis will be relieved to have a deeper squad to select from.

Manchester City’s ruthlessly efficient destruction of Spurs shows that, finally, we are beginning to see where all the money’s gone. It was an impressive display that hammered out a warning to the rest of the league.  The pace and power of their midfield bamboozled Spurs.  After the game Arry looked depressed.  Having to admit that he’d had to persuade Luca Modric to play must have hurt as much as the result.  They were up against a top quality team but to be so comprehensively, effortlessly dismantled points to deeper problems at White Hart Lane.  Manchester City’s display was the performance of the week, for a few hours anyway…

In his excellent book ‘Manchester United ruined my life’ author, Man City supporter Colin Shindler remembers 1968.  1968 was the last time Man City won the league.  The elation and acclaim was short lived however when they were upstaged weeks later when their loathed red neighbours lifted the European Cup.  Last season when they won their first trophy for 35 years, they were overshadowed somewhat by Man Utd securing the league title a few hours before.  On Sunday when the sky blues left the pitch at White Hart Lane they must have felt they had set the marker for the rest of the league to follow, only to be usurped yet again by their red nemesis! 

There are times when some football stories get a life of their own and grow out of context.  In  the hyperbole drenched world of the Premier League some irrelevant things get unjustified airtime.  That can’t be said about Man Utd’s 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal.  That game is a piece of history. Man Utd’s brilliance was so absolute that you can honestly say that Arsenal  got off lightly.  It was also the day an idea died.  Arsenal were exposed.  With a depleted squad and forced to field youngsters, Wenger sent them out to play the only way he knows.  Even 1-4 down they just carried on doing what wasn’t working.  It’s an old saying: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  You even get the feeling that faced with the same situation he’d do the same thing again. The camera caught his humiliation several times in the second half.  He really looked like a man not waving but drowning.  Wenger may continue as Arsenal manager for years to come, but Manchester United 8 Arsenal 2 will be etched in the mind as a milestone, for varying reasons. 

It’s great to see Chris Powell enjoying some success as Charlton Athletic manager.  As a player he was a solid reliable professional.  Football doesn’t always provide justice but Powell’s  England selection in 2001  was just reward for his commitment to the game. Never the most flashy or glamorous player, he can  reflect on those 5 England appearances and proudly remember his playing career.  If he carries  the same level of application into management Charlton will have a gem on their hands and promotion will surely beckon.  Good luck Chris!!