Archive for May, 2017

Love or hate, we wait to hear Rooney’s fate!!

STOKE CITY have won the race to sign England international striker ……. …., yes, we’ve heard that before haven’t we? It was nearly 5 years ago when Stoke completed the signing of Michael Owen, something that never really worked did it? But stories linking us with signing Wayne Rooney have a slightly different angle to it, don’t they? Why? Well you got the impression that Owen’s career was really at the end when he signed for us wasn’t it? He didn’t appear to have much interest in him from, elsewhere did he? Plus, this was a player who was on a free transfer, although granted his wages, signing on fees etc wouldn’t have been cheap?

1 goal in 8 games for us and Owen’s personal subs bench seat pretty much suggested that his career was coming to an end, didn’t it? However, surely Rooney isn’t quite at that stage in his career, is he? Well the rumoured £45 million package we would need to put together to sign him says not and that’s with the backing of sponsors Bet365. He has plenty of interest from elsewhere by all accounts, not only from clubs in England, but from places such as China and USA.

What I’ve found interesting is the amount of people turning their nose up at Wayne Rooney signing for Stoke? Jesus wept what have we become! I’m not sure he’s right either but it’s great news that he’s even being linked!! It’s good publicity for the club and the city and whether he signs or not, such stories can only help Stoke to attract further high calibre players surely?

We have an ageing squad, though don’t we? Grant, Bardsley, Johnson, Whelan, Cameron, Crouch, Walters, Afellay, Adam and Ireland are all in the 30’s, with a few others not far behind. Rooney would add to that list, and while many have said it’s seriously, not what we need, it’s an interesting story! We all know that we need youth, pace and guile in defence & midfield, not some over 30 striker who will cost a bomb and is in it for one last massive pay-day, but is that Rooney?

Some have asked the question, how on earth can people turn their nose up at the 31-year-old all-time leading England goal scorer joining the club we love, but many respond with negative comments? But after a frustrating season at United, would you not expect Rooney to join whoever, but with a point to prove? I think he should have especially now he’s lost his place in the England squad. He’s going to want to be playing at next year’s World Cup, isn’t he? He loves football so he’s bound to be keen to play!

I think people should realise that Rooney with a Bet365 shirt on would pay for himself three times over for our parent company surely? The extra revenue for them that they would get from pictures of him wearing the Bet 365 sponsored Stoke shirt would fly into the hundreds of millions, wouldn’t it? However, for me, this isn’t going to happen, if anything it’s just some clever bod at Bet365 trying to drum up some free hype/advertising, and to be fair, it’s worked!

Bet 365 could afford to bankroll a Rooney move and exploit the star’s commercial appeal but would they want to? Even if so, surely, we would have problems persuading the 31-year old star to buy into our project, wouldn’t we? This is a guy who swore he wouldn’t play for any Premier League sides other than United and Everton. But it’s also someone on a reported £300,000-a-week contract with 12 months remaining (plus a 1-year add-on) so perhaps the Toffees wouldn’t want to pay such wages out? In fact, we don’t even know if United want to sell Rooney? They would owe him a lot of money in wages if so, which is probably why Rooney leaving would be down to him to push rather than Jose Mourinho to sell.

If Stoke’s interest is genuine, it would mean Rooney can stay close to his Merseyside roots, something that as a father could be quite important? If a possible £45 million package is being readied, would we as Stoke fans want Rooney? Well, it’s been a slightly disappointing season for Stoke, and we know that many supporters want to see more from their team next season, surely adding someone of his calibre can only help?

What would we offer us? Well, here’s some interesting facts….

• Last year, Rooney earned his 116th appearance for England in 1–0 away win over Slovakia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, making him the nation’s most-capped outfield player of all-time, and England’s second highest appearance holder behind who? Yes, Peter Shilton, another ex-potter!

• In January, Rooney became the outright leading scorer of all-time for Manchester United after scoring his 250th goal for the club and the equaliser from a free kick against who? Yes, us, with that stunning free-kick at the Bet365 stadium in the game’s final minutes to secure a 1–1 draw

• 53 international goals for England in 119 games, not a bad record eh!

I could go on, but you would like to say that if he signed for another club in the Premiership, he would have a big, big point to prove wouldn’t he but for me it’s about as likely as the Christmas Day date being changed from 25th December to the 1st day of the new football season! However, let’s enjoy the story, as it’s good publicity for our club, something we should make the most of, not moan about! Love or hate, we wait to hear Rooney’s fate!!

Regards

Daniel Scattergood

So where do we go from here?

Well as we approach June, the disappointing feelings from this season are still fresh on my mind and the feelings of excitement for next season haven’t quite reached me, but after the tragedies of the Manchester attack, it’s perhaps put things back into perspective for myself and made me think that life could be so much worse couldn’t it!?!?

The board look as though they are supporting Mark Hughes and giving him some time to get us back on track and to be fair, perhaps we should do the same? When you see available names like David Moyes, Big Sam and even a certain Steve Cotterill out of work and being linked with jobs, should we perhaps be grateful for what we have? Maybe now isn’t the right time for changes? Maybe next season, we’ll meet our expectations, do a Leicester and win the league? Okay, I’m getting carried away, but we can do better, and surely will!

So, what do we need to change? Where do we go from here? Well, I’m not going to say who we should sign, and who we should sell, I’ll let others do that, but let’s have a quick look at the squad…

Goalkeepers: This is our strongest area is it not? Jack Butland and Lee Grant are both quality goalkeepers and unless either are sold, we don’t need to change much, here do we? We perhaps need a new no 3, unless Hughes considers the youngsters?

Full backs: Well, we have Johnson and Bardsley on the right, and both on new contracts although whether this is so we don’t lose them for nothing, or because Hughes is happy with them, time will tell? Geoff Cameron and Mama Diouf have both played on the right although that isn’t their preferred roles is it! Young Tom Edwards has done well in the youth sides and is someone that has made our subs bench this season so it would be nice to see him given a chance? As for the left it’s always a choice between Pieters and Muniesa isn’t it? So, to conclude, we perhaps need alternative options on both sides unless Hughes considers any of the youngsters? We perhaps just need to freshen up a bit, although an interesting stat I read was that the 4th best tackler in the Premiership was……. Erik Pieters, so perhaps he’d be more suited to playing centre back?

Central defence: Well I think Ryan has done ok this season and Bruno has played well so I’d love to sign him permanently although that is looking less and less likely, isn’t it? Porto are being awkward but he’s their player and conceding they’ve just changed their Manager, they will perhaps want to assess him before deciding whether to sell? Harry Souttar and Ryan Sweeney were both signed from Dundee Utd and AFC Wimbledon last pre-season and Souttar has won recognition with Scotland already and Ryan Sweeney has been with Republic of Ireland under-21s so they could be involved more, but I’d expect at least 1 signing if Bruno goes? Especially so, if we want to play 3 at the back? We are today being linked with Nancy centre-back Modou Diagne who is apparently available for £3.5m, is 6ft 3in and very fast so he sounds interesting?

When looking at centre midfield, I think it’s pretty obvious we need someone else? Adam and Whelan aren’t getting any younger and with Ireland & Afellay often injured and record signing Imbula seemingly not an option, I’d expect the latter to be sold and someone with fresh legs to come in, wouldn’t you? Allen & Cameron have done well generally, but again maybe we can look at the youth for new ideas i.e. Jake Dunwoody who yesterday has won his first call up for a Northern Ireland under-21s training camp or Ollie Shenton who was around the 1st team in previous seasons but he’s disappeared from the 1st team setup quicker than Rolf Harris did from his exit from Stafford Prison last week which is frustrating?

On the wing, it’s generally Arnie and Shaqiri who are great players for us, but maybe lack the consistency that extra competition in such roles could help to improve?

Ramadan surely is due an extended run in the team so let’s hope next season is his year! Others such as Diouf &Walters do what they can in such positions but it’s not their preferred roles is it? Thibaud Verlinden and Julien Ngoy have done well with the young ones and have been regulars in the Belgium junior set up so could 2017 / 18 season be the season for them? Or what about youngster Moha who was pinched (nicely) from Barcelona and has done with the kids, so perhaps he could be given a chance in the 1st team?

As for attack, well Crouch isn’t getting any younger but still scores when the service is provided. Bony seemingly joined us to have a 6-month holiday at Trentham Gardens included as part of the deal, so he’s not an option now. As for Bojan, well I’d love to see him given another chance!! But, without bossing our Manager about, if we play him, let’s play him in the no 10 role, with the right service either side and not sub him every game, because this lad has the ability in my view! Saido to me needs to be given a decent pre-season, but again I think he could be a success? But, I’d still want 1 more option? There is some decent talent playing with the kids such as Jordan Greenidge and Kevin Campbell’s son Tyrese who both fired Stoke into the FA Youth Cup Semi-finals, but perhaps need a little more time?

So where do we go from here? Well that’s down to our gaffe, but I’d expect us to sign 4 or 5 players to improve the squad and consider some of the youth options to freshen things up a little? I’m sure Mark Hughes has gone to bed and evaluated our options in his mind numerous times, because when I knew I was writing this article, I did the same and I’m not the one paid millions to do so, but it’s not easy is it? There’s always players who don’t look good enough yet come good, look at Mark Stein? There’s always players we sign and you wander why, yet turn out brilliantly, look at Lee Grant? There’s always players we sign and you expect them to be the answer, look at Bony? It just doesn’t always happen as we expect! To conclude, we all need to except that Hughes is staying and look forward. Next season should be interesting, but will be better for us all if we support our Manager and get behind the team. Here’s to an exciting 2017/18!!

Regards,

Dan Scattergood

Lack Of Pride

As I left the Bet 365 Stadium on Saturday night, I had a few things on my mind. How was my 2yr old daughter going to sleep in her 1st night in a big girl’s bed? What was my wife cooking for tea and how I hoped it was her beautiful homemade lasagna? And finally, … Why does my Stoke team seem to play with a lack of pride & commitment?

The frustrating part of our slight drop in standards this season is that I do still feel like we have a good squad, don’t you? This isn’t a squad who should be in a relegation dogfight and fortunately despite our performances we haven’t been struggling to survive! But, certain players haven’t played to the standards they are capable of. If you take time to think of the squads we have had since Premiership football, this isn’t the worst, is it? But, what we badly lack this season is players playing to their ability, and playing with pride?

Let’s go back to Saturday. What did we as supporters expect our team to do against Arsenal? Well, what have we done in previous outings against them, especially at home? Well we’ve got in their faces? We’ve upset them? We’ve not given them space to pass the ball around? And that’s what we should have done again! However, we didn’t. We let Arsenal play to their strengths. They knocked the ball around us, kept possession and took the mickey for at least 60 minutes!

Then we made 2 subs! We brought on Peter Crouch & Saido Berahino and we started to play a little more direct. Suddenly, they looked a different team. They were panicking on the ball, they were having to defend a team looking to score no matter how! Crouch put in a slide tackle and it felt like it was the first time a Stoke player had got stuck in! This came from a 36yr old forward, not a 21yr old kid wanting to impress everyone! And fair play to Crouch because he looked like a player who loved playing football for Stoke City. He looked like someone willing to justify his huge wages! But even more so he looked like someone playing like with pride didn’t he!?!? We all know his limitations, and no doubt he does, but that sort of battling qualities should be evident from the rest of the team and wasn’t!

So, where do we go from here? Well in my view, the players should be blamed more than they are. Mark Hughes is taking a lot of stick and some of it justified, but the players have let him down at times this season! In fact, it was interesting to hear him admitting after the game on Saturday that, with hindsight, he might have gone direct from the start instead of waiting until his substitutions at 2-0 down on the hour. Should he at least be applauded for some welcome honesty after the game? We all had enough of Tone’s way of playing but it was ideal when playing teams at home such as Arsenal. I wouldn’t necessarily want to play like that again as standard, but in certain games we must change the way of playing, mustn’t we?

So, how can next season be improved? Well, we are never going to go and sign lots off expensive players, but we expect a few players to put the spark, fun and excitement back into our relationship with Stoke City! Our fires need to be kept burning or at least lit again! We should make some money in looking to move on some players, and that’s may well be why he’s given new contracts to certain individuals that many were expecting to be sold?

What I would also like to see is some youth to be given a chance? There’s certain individuals such as Julien Ngoy, Tom Edwards, Ryan Sweeney, Harry Souttar and Thibaud Verlinden etc. that deserve a chance in the squad. What youth often bring is commitment, dedication, fight because they want to impress everyone! They will want to make it at a Premiership club, and we will soon see if players such as this are good enough for Stoke City. They won’t all be good enough for Stoke but as a supporter, I want to see local lads, or at least youth come through and play with the same pride we believe we would if we were ever given the chance to play for Stoke City. Mistakes aren’t frowned upon the same and are forgotten quicker! We’ve hardly had any youth come through over recent times and it’s not nice to see (or not see on this occasion!!)

There’s lots of stats being thrown about, but the fact that out of the 13 teams who are above us, our record is: P25 W1 D10 L14

1 win and that was against Crystal Palace in February 1-0! We lost the other game 4-1 to them! There’s lots more stats that aren’t pretty! We’ve conceded 4 goals in 7 matches this season. It took us 2 months to win our 1st league game, in fact, we didn’t win in our first 7 games this season! Only 4 teams have scored less than us! Even Tony Pulis’s West Brom have scored more than us, you would have laughed at that if someone had predicted that stat, previously wouldn’t you?

2017 / 2018 must start better and more positively. Mark Hughes needs to find out which players want to play for the club and decide which aren’t playing to their ability. The squad probably needs improving throughout, in fact, no, we don’t need a GK as we are fortunate to have 2 quality GK’s. I keep hearing that our signings last season were poor, but to be fair our best players have been Lee Grant, Joe Allen or even Bruno so they haven’t all failed. We all thought Bony would be a success, but that hasn’t worked, and we could say the same about Saido Berahino, although to be fair, he does look like a player that I think given a decent pre-season could still work? Ramadan looks a good prospect, although I’m annoyed that he hasn’t been given more time, because he has looked capable of playing at this level, hasn’t he?

I’m quite glad that the season is nearly over. I need a break from it, it’s frustrated me that much. It never normally does, though give me a couple of weeks and I’ll be counting down the days again until the new season I can promise you that! What I want to see from Stoke and our Manager is a chosen formation and that it is stuck to. Yes, this must change sometimes I appreciate that, and it’s good if your team can adapt to such changes quite easily. But, most teams have a preferred formation and as a supporter it’s nice to know what we think our best 11 is, but when our Manager doesn’t seem to know, it makes it difficult doesn’t it?

Pre-season should be interesting, let’s hope the break does us all good and we come back in August with a team showing the pride that it should and one that takes a lot less than 2 months to win its first game! Oh, and if you were wondering, my little un slept well in her bed but my wife didn’t make her lovely lasagna!

Regards

Dan Scattergood

Stephen Ireland signs new contract

We believe that Stephen Ireland has signed a new 1yr contract keeping him with Stoke City until Summer 2018.

Stephen’s future at the club had been hanging in the balance as he approached the final few months of his current contract. The luckless playmaker has yet to launch his comeback towards competitive action after being side-lined since last May with a double leg fracture. That left the popular 31-yr old Irishman running desperately short of time in a bid to prove his fitness before his current deal runs dry. However, Stoke have stood by him, like they did with the likes of Mama Sidibe and Andy Wilkinson, by giving them contracts while the players begin the long, gruelling task of overcoming their problems and getting themselves fit. The hope with Stephen is that this will happen and he will be available for first-team selection come August 2017. However, if this doesn’t happen, and he doesn’t get back into Mark Hughes plans, they will be able to sell him for a fee, rather than losing him for nothing.

Stephen Ireland broke his leg in two places after an innocent collision on the training pitch with defender Dionatan Teixeira nearly a year ago. We believe his wages have been paid for by his insurance company, saving Stoke the cost of paying for a player unavailable for 1st-team selection all season.

At the time of Stephen’s injury, Manager Mark Hughes stated: “The surgeon is really positive and that would lead us to believe Stephen will be back. It will be a long time, it will be eight or nine months, but he will come back.”

Stephen’s career at the club has been a somewhat frustrating time for both parties. It began on the 2nd September 2013 when Ireland joined Stoke on loan for the 2013-14 season from Aston Villa. This saw him link up with again with Mark Hughes who managed him at Manchester City. He was a player that Aston Villa Manager Paul Lambert had left out of his then Aston Villa squad. Speaking after joining Stoke, Ireland hoped that his loan spell would help resurrect his stuttering career saying – “It’s been really frustrating as I take my job seriously and it’s been difficult for me not being on the team bus playing games. This is a big year for me and I never got a run of games at Villa. It’s been very up and down and is hard to take because I’ve always trained properly and been professional. I’m just so grateful to the manager here at Stoke for giving me the opportunity to build up my career again. I’ve absolutely got a point to prove and I’m dying to get back into the swing of things. This is a massive opportunity and I’m still only 27. It’s a vital year for me to be playing week in, week out” After completing his loan deal, Stephen Ireland made his Stoke debut on 14 September 2013 in a 0–0 draw against his former club Manchester City, before bagging his 1st goal for Stoke just 2 weeks later scoring in a 2–0 League Cup victory over Tranmere Rovers.

January 2014 saw Stoke take over the remaining 6-months of his contract from Aston Villa. Then in April 2014, Stephen was given a new three-year contract with Stoke keeping him contracted until the summer of 2017. However due to injuries and form, Stephen hasn’t played much football since then though, and he’s a player Manager Mark Hughes will be keen to get fit to see if he can get the best out of him. Let’s hope this proves to be the case!

Daniel Scatterwood

Bruno Martins Indi Deal Soon To Be Announced

Stoke City have triggered the clause in Bruno Martins Indi’s contract to sign the centre half on a permenant basis from FC Porto.

Martins Indi initially joined the club on a season long loan in the summer 2016 transfer window from FC Porto after falling out of favour and failing to adapt to life in the Liga NOS.

The popular defender has been a rock for Stoke City this season, shoring up a defence which leaked many goals at the start of the campaign.

Bruno made 33 appearances so far for the Potters this season in all competitions and has managed to bag himself a goal at Stamford Bridge in a 4-2 loss to Chelsea.

This kicks off the start of the summer signings at Stoke City as they look to revamp the squad after a tough season.

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