Posts Tagged ‘petercoates’

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



UEFA’s internal politics woes Sahin speaks, Conte is appalled, admirable CCM, farewell Michael, Puliser prised?

March 19th, 2013 No comments

This report in the Daily Mail suggests Tony Pulis is considering leaving Stoke City at the end of the season.  Some may suggest it’s media speculation due to Pulis receiving criticism from fans.  However, the story does appear to have more than an inkling of credibility.  There were a few mutterings of frustration after the transfer deadline indicating the manager was frustrated not to have done more business.  He’s also implied previously a sense of exasperation at the size of Stoke City’s youth academy.  The academy is a huge asset for the future of the football club.  Chairman Peter Coates has said the club must become self sufficient.  A thriving academy is a big step towards achieving that but would Tony Pulis benefit?  At this stage Pulis has only played two players below the age of 24 throughout the current season, (Brek Shea and Ryan Shotton) one of which isn’t a first team regular, and one of whom (Shotton) turned 24 on October 30th.  This suggests youth development isn’t a priority for Pulis.  All things borne in mind the story may well be  entirely feasible but we probably won’t know for several months if Pulis will be with us for the start of the 2013/14 season. If he was to leave, all things borne in mind, he should be spared the indignity of a mid season departure.

Turkish international Nuri Sahin has spoken of his relief at leaving Liverpool.  He has said “I did not fail with Liverpool. Brendan Rogers wanted me to play as a ten, but I don’t play behind the strikers. I spoke to him and asked him why he wanted me to play there since it’s not my real position. The Mister couldn’t answer me”  He went on to say how pleased he is to be back at Borussia Dortmund and added  “For what it’s worth, I’m happy. I’ve left Brendan Rogers, thank God”. This can be seen as a classless bitter tirade but is that entirely fair?  Players often come out with glib soundbites to avoid controversy.  Sahin is fully entitled to explain why he feels it didn’t work out at Liverpool.  It’s also refreshing to hear a footballer prepared to state a strong opinion. It’s a pity more players aren’t so forthright.

Juventus manager Antonio Conte has said he may leave Italy.  After his teams 2-0 victory over Bologna Conte made it clear he was increasingly distressed by the abuse his team suffers.  On arriving in Bologna the Juve team bus was bombarded with rocks sticks and spit.  Conte was particularly disturbed by the sight of people carrying young children in their arms screaming vicious abuse and hurling missiles.  Only time will tell if Conte’s threat to leave is genuine or a heat of the moment outburst.  Meanwhile, Paris Saint Germain, Chelsea and Real Madrid will have taken note!

Central Coast Mariners players weren’t paid last week. Their ongoing financial wrangling continues to cast a dark shadow over their on field success.  They played well and beat an admittedly lethargic Brisbane Roar team on Sunday.  To be able to stay focused on the job in hand is testament to the players commitment to their job and the motivational ability of manager Graham Arnold.

The draw for the 2016 European Championship qualifiers is to be made in March 2016.  By then  UEFA could have a new member… Gibraltar.  In May member nations will vote to decide on Gibralter’s inclusion.  Gibraltar’s Football Association are bidding to join the international football community but for many years were stifled by a UEFA rule that states the ruling body will only acknowledge nations that are recognised by the United Nations.  However, this changed  in October  when the court of arbitration for sport instructed UEFA to award the British colony provisional member status.  The Spanish FA once stated rather fancifully they would boycott any tournament that involved Gibraltar.  When the draw was made for the 2014 Futsal European championships,  UEFA ensured that even if Gibraltar progressed from their  group  there would be no possibility of an explosive clash with Spain.  Should the vote fall in favour of the GFA it could open a period of political mayhem with Jersey, Kosovo and Greenland all eager to dine at one of football’s most lucrative tables.

When 17 year old Michael Owen burst onto the scene in 1997 it taught me a vital lesson…. football supporters can maintain wondrous childlike fascinations other people can’t!  Despite being 28 years of age and  carrying battle hardened cynicism like a medal, I immediately idolised Owen.   He was a very special player.  Talented, fast and exciting, with an ability to create a yard of space for himself and score goals from odd angles.  Michael Owen had the lot.  I hoped for the boy wonder’s inclusion in Glenn Hoddle’s World Cup squad and my wish was granted.  In St Etienne he scored his brilliant solo goal against Argentina my prodigy, rightly, became a global superstar.  On his return to club football he scored a brilliant hat trick against Newcastle.  As the plaudits rolled in the cap size remained the same.  The archetypal mature head on young shoulders. One of my dearest wishes was for Owen to beat Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record…. for Owen to make history, and to finally shed one of the ghosts of 1966.  Ongoing injuries scuppered that possibility but 40 goals in 89 international appearances is an impressive record for any player. Hampered by injuries his appearances have been intermittent in recent years an  his decision to retire from playing isn’t a huge shock.  In Michael Owen can reflect on English football’s great goalscorers.