Lambert wanting history to repeat itself against Liverpool

Stoke City boss says “he is keeping everything crossed that his stunning record at Liverpool remains intact beyond this weekend”…

“It is a strange one, and I suppose every person in the game has a team or a stadium that they particularly do well against, and mine happens to be Liverpool at Anfield,” he smiled.

“I have to admit that I have had a little bit of luck there before, winning as a player and as a manager, and against Liverpool I think you need that.”

“For some strange reason my record is decent there. Why that is I really don’t know – I can’t put my finger on it.

“I know how tough it is there though, trust me, it is one of the toughest places to o not just in England but in Europe.”

He also added: “The guys who have performed for me there before have deserved the credit, and hopefully the lads here will be getting the same headlines this weekend too.”

What a Goal this was By Peter Crouch

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Many are still amazed this was not voted goal of the season.

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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

Gone but not forgotten….. Kyle Lightbourne

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Who remembers Kyle Lightbourne? He was a forward who we signed in in February 1998, a terrible time for the club! Lou Macari had left us at the end of the previous season and was replaced by Chic Bates who struggled to get the results needed. Later in the season, he was replaced by Chris Kamara who not only sold Andy Griffin, probably our star player at the time, but managed just 1 win and he was eventually replaced with Alan Durban for the last few games. However, the damage was done, and after a 5–2 defeat against Manchester City on the final day saw the inevitable happen and Stoke were relegated as were Man City despite their big win.

Kyle was signed in February 1998 for £500,000, a then club record. Some say Chris Kamara signed him, some say Jez Moxey signed him, but whoever it was had high hopes for him, as this was a player signed from Coventry, a team then in The Premiership! He had moved to Coventry from Walsall, a club where he was held in very high esteem. This was because he had scored lots of goals for them and we needed someone to do the same for us!

However, Kyle didn’t get off to the best of starts with us as he had some kind of unknown illness and managed just 2 goals in 13 games, as we suffered relegation from the First Division. It was an awful time, and the club was in a mess.

The following season (1998-99) saw Stoke enter a hopeful bright new era as we moved to The Britannia Stadium, but it wasn’t quite to plan, as we were now in the third tier of English football with heavy debts of around £5 million and no manager. However, we were all surprised yet pleased when Chairman Keith Humphreys appointed former Aston Villa manager Brian Little. Suddenly, optimism was raised and we had a great start to the season, winning the first 6 games and as we approached November time, it seemed a matter of when and not if Stoke would gain promotion. However, our form tailored away and we didn’t get the results expected. Chief Executive Jez Moxey was under pressure as our financial situation was poor, results weren’t great and false promises had been made. Kyle Lightbourne, like many other players struggled, managing just 8 goals and the club finished 8th place, missing out on the play-offs.

The following season (1999–2000) saw Gary Megson in charge but he was eventually replaced by Gudjon Thordason as the Icelandic Revolution came into play. Kyle scored 10 goals in 52 appearances as Stoke reached the play-offs where we were beaten by Gillingham. He was a partner for Peter Thorne, but whereas Thorney scored goals for fun, Kyle didn’t which was a big disappointment as he had scored so many goals for Walsall at that level! We did reach the 2000 Football League Trophy Final (Autoglass Trophy as we know it) at Wembley with Kyle playing as we beat Bristol City 2–1 and we went into the following season with high hopes.

Season 2000-01 saw Gudjon Thordason still as our Manager, but Kyle found himself behind the likes of Thorney, Rikki Dadason & Andy Cooke and he scored a mere 5 goals in 28 appearances. In the latter part of the season he spent spells on loan at Swindon Town and Cardiff City and his Stoke career was coming to an end. This was best for everyone, but still Stoke missed out on promotion, as we were beaten by one of Kyle’s former teams Walsall, 4-2 in the play-offs.

The following season (2001-02), saw Kyle gone as he was released on a free. Gudjon was still in charge, but the pressure was on. His job was made harder by us selling both fans favourites Graham Kavanagh and Peter Thorne. Gudjon went and signed various players, many foreign but we got to see the likes of Peter Hoekstra’s skill and flair and goals came from the likes of Chris Iwelumo! Stoke improved with such signings and despite missing out on automatic promotion, we beat Brentford in the play-off final.

As for Kyle, well after a brief spell in Sweden, he signed for Macclesfield Town, a team in Division Three. He was a player who Stoke fans perhaps didn’t get to see the best of, unlike his time at Walsall. However, looking back it can’t have been easy for many Stoke players, as that 4 or 5-year spell wasn’t easy for anyone including us supporters! Kyle Lightbourne, gone but not forgotten!!

Daniel Scattergood

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