Stoke: All Change At The Britannia?

Welcome the new guy, same as the old guy. Philip Cornwall has some sympathy for Stoke fans who might've expected a change after Tony Pulis's departure...

Last Updated: 07/08/13 at 15:52 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football365's End Of Season Awards

Post comment

It¿s time for you to put on your tuxedos and dickie bows as we cordially invite you the Football365 end of season awards We have 35 categories for you, so strap in...

F365's Season Predictions - Revisited

4 comments

Roll up to call us idiots as we reveal just how badly we called this season. Actually, we're being defeatist. For there was some accuracy to complement the scattergun...

All Articles

LAST SEASON

Premier League 13th FA Cup fourth round League Cup second round

Manager Mark Hughes (since May 2013) Odds on being first out of his job 25-1 (11th=)

Players in Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven, £3m), Marc Muniesa (Barcelona B, free)

Players out Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough, free), Mamady Sidibe (released, after loan at Tranmere), Rory Delap (Burton, free, after loan at Barnsley), Matthew Upson (Brighton, free, from loan), Michael Owen (a television or racecourse near you, released)

Club turnover in 2011-12 £71m (13th)

Handicap betting to win Premier League +39 points (16th)

A year ago there were grounds for optimism that we would be rid of Stoke City and Tony Pulis. Stoke remain in the Premier League for another season but half a wish fulfilled is better than none, especially as it was the recurring dourness of Pulis's vision that led to the hope in the first place. On the other hand, the name of the replacement does not exactly thrill.

Along with Pulis, another symbol of the Potters' recent years has departed, with Rory Delap joining Burton. The long-throw specialist played only once in the top flight, as a sub on opening day, last season but the legacy was there in a side with the worst pass completion rate in the division, who propped up the official fair play league and had three representatives - Dean Whitehead, Steven Nzonzi and Charlie Adam - in the top 10 for picking up cards.

Discontent within the club was apparent when the chief scout, the long-time Pulis ally Lindsay Parsons, publicly criticised the style of play. It was certainly not much fun even for any fan willing to turn a blind eye to tactics and physicality: Stoke scored just 34 goals last season, fewer than all but QPR.

And of course that raises the question as to whether the chosen replacement will change very much at all: that Rangers side were managed, until his dismissal on 23 November, by Mark Hughes, whose Blackburn sides of the middle of the last decade regularly vied for and won the title of the Premier League's dirtiest.

Peter Coates said that the man who spent £17.5m to take Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn to Manchester City and wanted the Paraguayan at Fulham was the only man interviewed for the manager's job, suggesting an almost Pulis-like narrowness of vision. He praised Hughes's sides as having been "hard to beat" - perhaps ignoring QPR.

Pulis's Stoke were easy to dislike but I have never had much trouble feeling the same about Hughes's sides. I have every sympathy for Stoke fans who understandably stood by the man who brought back to-flight football after so long, and who realised eventually that there was more to football than what was on offer from Pulis. Some of them were not that wild about his replacement, even if they will give him a decent crack. The bookmakers are unconvinced, too, placing Stoke 16th in the handicap betting.

Coates, interviewed by TalkSport just after picking Hughes, said: "You know that supporters will have lots of different ideas and opinions and they're more than entitled to them. You will never get consensus on anyone... I do believe you have to back your judgement. It's a big responsibility and you're always mindful of supporters because they're so important to your football club, but you've still got to do it yourself and do what you think is right." I think that come the end of the season the chairman will have cause to regret, as his club contemplate a return to the Championship.

Hughes has to start proving Coates was right and me wrong with the visit to Liverpool on the first Saturday, which is followed by a home game against promoted Crystal Palace. Given that the following three fixtures are at West Ham, at home to Manchester City and away to Arsenal, that Palace match looks like an opportunity that must not be spurned. The season will not turn on that single result but in four of their five seasons in the Premier League Stoke have been reliant on their home form and Hughes surely needs to have the crowd, as well as the chairman, on his side.

Philip Cornwall

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

N

ow is the time for Allardyce to finally get a chance at a big club please. He is likely to have a number of great offers for his services this summer, but who will he choose? Will it be Liverpool, Real Madrid, Dortmund or Man City?

medina_sod
Allardyce leaves West Ham

I

thought exactly this when the Match of the Day pundits were peddling this line. Is it really not okay for fans of a club to have some ambition these days then?

damoceltic
Bored Of Big Sam? It's Your Right...

H

ow magnanimous off him - to leave if he's asked to by the owners? What's the alternative, bunker down in his office claiming squatter's rights if FSG want rid?

feed the bear
Rodgers: I'll go if owners want

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Eden Hazard is open to another 10 years at Chelsea

Eden Hazard wants to stay at Chelsea for years and join football's elite by leading the club to Champions League glory.

Rafael Benitez '99 per cent' certain to be next Real Madrid boss

Rafael Benitez is '99 per cent' certain to be Real Madrid boss, says Carlo Ancelotti's representative Ernesto Bronzetti.

Manuel Pellegrini confident Man City will be stronger next season

Manuel Pellegrini is confident Manchester City will regain the Premier League title next season.

Mail Box

Who Is The Most Complete Striker Ever..?

...the answer is the original Ronaldo, Gerd Muller, Cristiano or Alan Shearer, depending on who you talk to. We also have one signing per Premier League (and promoted team)...

Reviewing Every PL Side's Season...

Time to half-heartedly agree or furiously reject some ratings. The mails also discuss the most complete striker ever in football, as well as Rodgers, Falcao and Bill O'Herilhy.

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company