Pre FA Cup + Wilkinson interview

January 24, 2009

While we are unfortunately not participating in the cup today this weekend, we do go in safe in the knowledge that our boys are currently having a fantastic experience in the capricious conditions that Dubai has to offer. I’m sure the players will all have gathered themselves around the local telly, and are vainly hoping that Hartlepool can achieve some cup success which could win them a very minor victory over their unforgivingly mocking mates. I personally will be tuning into the Tottenham game for reasons stated yesterday. For me, it will put a more favourable gloss on a few of the previously despised players for Man Utd, who i will be relying upon to inflict severe damage to the opposition. I would assume Paul Scholes if he plays will gladly take that mantle with his trademark over-determined slide tackles. Perhaps Rooney could ruin the opposing goalkeeper’s confidence in our favour by shouting at him? Maybe Ronaldo could help get someone sent off in his usual fashion ultimately for our benefit?

Maybe this is all a little too overambitious, and the game won’t be sent into extra time and noone gets injured or sent off, and we realise our immense hopes would (if transpired) not be of much significance when it comes to our Premier League clash on Wednesday. What it clearly shows though is that we have so much more focus towards that game. Perhaps getting sent out early in the FA Cup will inevitably work out in our favour? An unfocused team leads to a careless attitude towards the match in every way possible, from rousing themselves out of bed in the morning to putting in the effort required for a result.

That’s enough of the FA Cup now, we are after all absent from it. The fact that a large percentage of this blog concerns it probably says a lot for the news that’s presently coming out of the Britannia.

Hull indeed have managed to sign Jimmy Bullard. This really is quite annoying. I hate admiring players when they’re not at your club, especially when they very much deserve that admiration. There’s really not many players of other clubs i particularly like in the Premier League, i usually make my judgements based upon how much of a part they had to play when beating Stoke. I was actually beginning to respect and admire the play of Frank Lampard until he scored that sickening winner against us, now i hate his obese guts. I hope Bullard doesn’t tarnish his good name by doing the same. 

Wilkinson has been pretty truthful about the quality of this training camp he finds himself trapped in. Whilst not completely comparing it to a concentration camp, he said that the weather veered from the wet and chilly to the boiling hot. What completely rubbish weather that must be concerning clothing above all matters. I bet Pulis would hardly have been able to conduct any meaningful training sessions without several players running off in the direction of the hotel having to change into a pair of shorts. The positive he indicated about the experience is that he’s been able to forget about the Chelsea defeat. It really isn’t necessary to travel as far as Dubai for this to happen when alcahol exists commonly throughout the UK. In fact, after the game, Pulis should really have told the players to get absolutely wasted which would have produced an identical effect.

Wilkinson also talked about his season so far. I see him as a fantastic talent. He’s still pretty young and can really develop into a top defender. Also, as i read more of that interview on whydelilah.co.uk, it has suddenly occured to me that he has forthwith become one of my very favourite players. This has emerged with his ingenius comment about Cristiano Ronaldo. When asked about his monumentally satisfying challenge on Ronaldo which made him see red, he said:

“It’s a shame because he’s such a good player. He spoils himself by being a bit of a fanny really.”

= Brilliant!

It’s about time somebody of relative football importance and involvement seriously slagged him off. And it is so true. There is possibly no more suitable term in the English language in which to describe him than simply-  ‘fanny’.  It just sums up all aspects of the boy. Wilkinson embodies all that a proper footballer should be.

If Hull can get him, i’m sure we can too

January 23, 2009

Hull city look like they’re on the cusp of a transfer that would see babyhaired assassin Jimmy Bullard heading to the KC. Now Hull have indeed had an impressive season so far, there are however no big a football club as us. We seem to possess more funds also, as Pulis has indicated. We would benefit hugely if we managed to divert him to Stoke on Trent. If there’s any player you would want to help you escape from a relegation dogfight, taking into account mental as well as physical attributes, it would have to be Jimmy Bullard.

Pansies Al Khaleej FC have unanimously agreed to call off our impending friendly, citing fears of incredible nervousness in anticipation of a certain humbling. Somewhat humorously (depending on the importance you place upon training camps like this) this trip to Dubai has been what can only be described as an utter disaster. I’m sure Pulis and the players will have that very same feeling on the plane journey home. This friendly would have been beneficial for Lawrence’s and Fuller’s fitness, they would have been desperate to play that game. Instead, their built up aggression and disappointment will have to be unleashed in all its glory against Tottenham next week. This can either be a good or bad thing. Either Fuller gets sent off in the 5th minute for a reckless challenge on Defoe, or Fuller gets sent off in the 5th minute for a reckless challenge on Defoe who ends up breaking his leg.

It’s brilliant to have Fuller back in the mix now, and i am positive that we’ll get a result in that Tottenham game. That game is next Wednesday however. This weekend is FA Cup weekend. Instead of watching the eager pusuits of Hartlepool thinking of what might have been, why don’t we all take pleasure in seeing a Tottenham side having their legs deteriorating in extra time with hopefully a few injuries along the way? One of the injuries being their goalkeeper Gomez. Harry Redknapp is persisting with an increasingly agitated Gomez obviously stricken with an injury. Now i’ve never seen Tottenham’s backup goalkeeper in action, but i’m sure he’s not too happy in the first place with playing second fiddle to a hilariously rubbish Gomez. The fact however, that an injured Heurelho Gomez is still more valued than himself must make the man reconsider his career options.

After a hugely unfortunate attempt at a training camp, it would be interesting to see what else could possibly go wrong. Perhaps James Beattie will have immersed himself in the culture so much, he will have decided to stay in Dubai, clinging on for dear life to the bedpost whilst Pulis and Delap try in vain to prise our new acquisition off? Perhaps Fuller will get lost in the commercial sprawl of shops Dubai has to offer, and with just a few hours remaining before the Tottenham match, there ensues a movie-like scramble to bring him back in time?

Expect that Andrew Surman signing early tommorow morning.

Reserves draw to Arsenal

January 22, 2009

While Arsenal’s much lauded youngsters came to the Britannia with much hype after their impressive Carling Cup run, it was Stoke’s youths who came closest to winning. We fielded a team with pretty much no experience of note, and they very much impressed. We can be thankful of a seemingly bright future if players like this are patient and stay on at the club.

This was a game where all eyes would have been on Eduardo. In the end though, he hardly made an effect on the game. There was one player of considerable quality for the opposition however who continues to astound the pundits at the embryonic age of 17, and that was Jack Wilshere. I feel he’ll make a huge impact on world footballer in a couple of years time, which of course is good for England. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if Pulis managed to pinch him under the nose of Arsene Wenger? a player we could well profit from who can apparently play anywhere across the midfield.

There was also an incident with Mark Randall getting sent off for a reckless and outright discraceful tackle on Ryan Connor and then proceeding to spit on the poor boy. I’m sure this little bastard must have an incredibly aggressive nature about him if he thinks that an injured player deserves to be spit upon. If anybody deserves a wad of saliva to be launched upon their face after the initial tackle, it would be Randall out of revenge. There is a brilliant and very true quote from whydelilah.co.uk that asks what Wenger would have made of Randall’s challenge. I would personally love to see him asked that question, on the basis of seeing him either forsake his footballing morals or defending one of his fragile and overprotected ‘gems’. Both quite costly answers. In any case, i strongly suspect the answer given about the incident will be:

Randall is a fantastic player. I can fully understand the unfortunate nature of mistaking the player’s leg for the ball. In fact, Ryan Connor’s legs do indeed take on a slightly bulbous shape. As for the spit, i too have suffered that same tragic case of breathing too heavily. When so much breath is passing through his throat, the pressure gets to the point that saliva naturally escapes his body through the most efficient form available. This of course is a credit to the work-rate of Randall. It was just unfortunate that the Stoke player had to stand in the way of it. I hope everybody realises that it was all just an accident.’

Who would have thought that, with the transfer window drawing ever nearer to slamming shut, i would be discussing in detail a reserve match. I hope Pulis is well on his way to signing a decent central midfielder. I have a sneaking suspicion we could get Jimmy Bullard. He has everything that our previous signings have. He’s got Premiership experience, he’s English, and he’s got great work rate. It would be quite a sensation really if we sign him, him being on the verge of an England cap and all that. If we look at what he did to Fulham last season, we would have great confidence in our ability to stay in the top flight for at least another season. If not Bullard, then surely Andrew Surman of Southampton?

Lawrence staying + Diao sent home from camp

January 21, 2009

Pulis has dismissed reports linking Lawrence to Derby County as complete rubbish, and quite right true. A fantastic player who has done tremendously in his years for Stoke. After putting in a huge amount of effort to get us promoted last season, why on earth would he want to try and achieve the same gruelling and probably futile task of promoting Derby? He’s such an outstanding player i’m sure will make his way back into the first team. Although it’s not likely that he’ll replace Etherington, his quality could and should be used in the centre of midfield in my opinion. We can’t leave someone like him on the bench at any cost.

Pulis also dismissed the idea of his isolation preventing transfers by reminding the media about technology nowadays.

“The search for new players certainly goes on this week, it stops for nothing, I’m on the end of a phone which the relevant people have. There is only a four-hour time difference, so being out here won’t have any detrimental effect on business we are trying to do. Being in the mountains with only a few goats for company has never stopped me trying to wheel and deal, so why should being in Dubai? The only disappointment so far has been the weather – it’s been raining heavily.”

I’m not so sure Pulis could indefinitely rule out the possibility of goats getting in the way of any transfer action. They’re loaded down in Dubai as the Kaka attempt has suggested, and have a right mind to rival any bids made. It seems a huge waste to want choose Dubai as a destination and then for it to rain heavily, the same effect could be had upon the glens of Scotland. I’m sure the players will enjoy a bit of time away from things though, theres quite a tall building there which they will enjoy seeing. I’m sure Salif Diao would have been disappointed by not seeing the interesting-from-a-birds-eye-view - World Island, which is surely taking a novelty too far? There’s also the interestingly shaped housing estate on Palm Island which the players will delight in trespassing upon. I also heard the Dubai women are nice when they’re not concealed.

Theres an interesting reserve fixture tonight. Our youthful team is taking on Arsenal, who are blessed with the inclusion of a wrathful, revenge seeking Eduardo. It will be nice to see him back, as noone deserves an injury like that, least of all a highly talented yet modest and humble one. It will also be quite amazing to see his leg actually working again after that challenge.

Another bit of news is that Norwegian side Brann Bergen are probably going to take Demar Phillips on loan. I personally don’t see much place in the team for him at the moment, if he were to really impress at this club i’m sure he may well come back with horns on his head and a right mind to stake a place in the first team. He’s not exactly a youngster, but he’s a few years younger than our current wingers. For this reason, we all wish him the best of luck over in Norway.

Our striking situation

January 20, 2009

Since there is no real news coming out of our camp, it’s a good time to look at the team and ponder what our best lineup would be, whilst at the same time discussing how some of the players have performed throughout the season.

Since the arrival of Etherington and Beattie, our first team now individually seems well capable of both establishing our place in the Premier League and working our way up it in seasons to come. We seem to have a fine concoction of both fighters and talent, most possessing both qualities. Sorensen has proved an almighty figure in goal, helped by a well disciplined and organised defence. Our midfield has often proved themselves worthy whoever it consists of. Up front, Fuller and Sidibe as a force looks very threatening, whilst the more subdued but ever industrious threats of Cresswell, Kitson, and Pericard have done their job. With Beattie entering the fray, Pulis now has a pleasurable dilemma on his hands. What is now our first choice attack?

To answer this question, perhaps we have to look at previously successful partnerships. Keane and Berbatov, Cole and Yorke, Crouch and Defoe all spring to mind. A common theme through all these is cohesion and understanding. A front line that works together can cause all sorts of problems, the opposite is Anelka and Drogba. Sidibe and Fuller do indeed work together to good effect, but could the effect be multiplied with Beattie as a replacement? If Beattie’s place in the starting lineup was a given (as it may well be) who would start alongside him? Fuller and Sidibe are both similar in physicality and stature. Whilst Fuller may possess supreme technical ability and finishing, Sidibe is brilliant at holding off defenders and allowing others into the game. In Beattie’s case, he is rather similar to Fuller. Now if it is true that opposites do attract, Beattie and Sidibe would be the preferred choice. On this basis however; Titus Bramble should be in the England squad alongside Rio Ferdinand because they oppose in terms of quality. I reckon Pulis will be sorting this out while the team is having fun in Dubai.

We definitely still need that assurity in the centre of midfield. Amdy Faye shouldn’t have priority over the likes of Olofinjana and Tonge in my opinion. Defending is really all he is out there to do, he does impose himself tremendously on the opposition, but his position as midfield destroyer shouldn’t be taken too literally as he seems to be in danger of being sent off almost every match. He also doesn’t use the ball particularly well, which we sometimes need to take pressure off the defence. I feel Tonge could and should take up this position, doing the same duty of closing the opposition down and the proceeding to put himself to good use when we’re on the attack. We would control more of the possession in this way. Our other position in central midfield with more emphasis on attacking is rather strongly contested between the likes of Whelan and Olofinjana. That competition is likely to inspire hard work and industry, but it does not guarantee class. I expect we should be in the market for a playmaker of considerable quality. Andrew Surman of Southampton seems to come to mind.

That being said, we have several injuries which have plagued our squad and disrupted any balance we’ve had or can hope to have. What remains now, is for these players to come back from injury and for Pulis to both interest and astound us with the full might of Stoke City’s first XI.

Chelsea antics frustrate Pulis

January 19, 2009

Not much news for today. Tony Pulis had launched a direct assault on Chelsea’s foreign players for inability to stand back up after being challenged. It truly is annoying and quite pathetic when players do this, what used to very much be a man’s game is being feminised by these players. Football is a fantastic sport to watch when commited challenges are being made, not so much when the game has to be stopped for a few minutes because someone seems to have a broken leg, only to be running freely afterwards.

Pulis’ comments about Michael Ballack in particular were very true. On a number occassions i saw the overrated German floundering on the pitch, clutching his ‘hurting’ appendage. In very much a World War II recreation, he couldn’t stand up to the commited nature of our English challenges.

Pulis also praised Delap for his goal, and reiterated the footballing quality of the man when it’s easy to see him as an immobile trebuchet fixed to the sideline. He seems very determined to give all he’s got this season. Although the throw ins are an extraordinary asset unequalled across the world, his footballing ability does in no way detract from his overall importance in our team.

The squad (with the exception of Higginbotham) are now in Dubai for a winter training camp. this will be a valuable experience for the team concerning our survival hopes. Hopefully they can have time to reflect on the season so far, and enjoy a bit of heat in their training sessions. I’m not sure what their absence implies regarding possible transfers, i was sure now would be a perfect time for Pulis to hammer out a few more deals. We still need another midfielder or so i feel. Perhaps Andrew Surman is already making his way to Dubai?

Chelsea aftermath

January 18, 2009

A devastating result really. It all seemed to be going so well, we played out the remaining minutes with an increasing assurance, we were minutes from a huge shock which would’ve decimated Chelsea FC and boosted us immensely. The sheer ecstacy and delight over Delap’s goal became instantly quashed with Chelsea’s equalising and winning goals. In the end, all joy built up towards that final whistle evaporated absolutely, until there was no emotion, not even anger or hatred exhibited towards Lampard.

There were certainly true heroes of that game, players who would’ve been applauded across England had we got a result. The likes of Etherington, who never seemed to give the ball away, using his technical ability to carve openings in Chelsea whilst helping us get out of our half. Sorensen, who had a faultless performance in both shot stopping and dealing with dangerous crosses. Our whole defence who were exposed yet solid, blocking and dealing with any real goalscoring threat they seemed to carry. Delap took that goal brilliantly and put a great deal of energy in, likewise Beattie, who soldiered on when he had no reserves left to call upon. All these brilliant performances however were instantly meaningless as Lampard smashed the ball into our net.

We fell apart towards the very end. Tired legs failed to pick up Belletti when he equalised, and likewise when we failed to get out quick ebough to block Lampard’s effort. Things got so bad that i personally had to mute the booming tones of Martin Tyler in anticipation of the eventual ‘LAMPAARD!’ which would’ve compounded the misery even further than was possible.

It’s so hard to recover after such a cruel defeat, especially for the team. I just hope we can pick ourselves up for our next and perhaps more ‘winnable’ game against relegation rivals (who aren’t? with the table as it is) Tottenham. I hope we can bring out more of the quality of our new recruits for that game by having more possession and stability on the ball. I can also see the definite need for a central midfielder of real class now. Someone who can influence others to perhaps use the ball better. In that Chelsea game, there was an instance where we put together a clever passing move, the architect was Matthew Etherington. I hope we can get someone who can do this in a central position, so we don’t have to watch our team coming under that much pressure again.

At least we’ve only got one more game against ‘top four’ opposition, that being against Arsenal. We have this advantage against our relegation rivals, and if we manage to put in a good run of wins which we can well be expected to do, we could climb well out of the relegation zone which we currently find ourselves in. I’m sure Pulis would’ve reassured the players with this after the game, and got them looking forward.

With us out of the FA Cup, Pulis has a while to perhaps negotiate some new signings. I really do expect one to be a central midfielder as previously discussed. Perhaps we can make Beattie feel even more at home by bringing in Andrew Surman from Southampton? you heard it here first.

Chelsea preview + latest news

January 17, 2009

Before we look ahead to the big game, there’s been a number of transfer rumours and deals, whilst also some news involving extending the club’s facilities.

Firstly, youngster Ryan Shotton has joined Tranmere on loan. Another chance for a young lad like him to gain some experience. Again, we should be reminded of the pivotal role players like this might have at our club in the next few seasons. If we didn’t already have much incentive to watch the free flowing football of Tranmere Rovers then we certainly do now.

Whilst Man City have reportedly offered around 100 million for Kaka, we have our eyes on another Brazilian. His full name is Frederico Chaves Guedes, though he’s been given the nickname – ‘Fred’ presumably by an old Scottish bloke in a pub. Apparently we’ve tabled 4.5 million for him. Thankfully his dad isn’t included in the transfer as he’s pretty rubbish. I’m still not sure why we’re trying to get more strikers. With several strikers already striving for a first team place, i’m not sure what Pulis has in mind. We should try to offer Pericard and perhaps Creswell in the deal, that way there won’t be any morale sapping negativity rubbing off onto the team.

We are now planning on building a new training ground. I’m sure this will be highly beneficial in all areas of the club. Good training facilities not only help efficiency in honing their skills, but attracts better talent to the club. It will contain:

- Nine changing rooms for the academy and first team players
- A gym, including equipment for specialist cardiovascular work.
- A pool for hydrotherapy work.
- Offices for the manager, his staff and groundstaff.
- A press room and facilities.
- A canteen for players which can also be used by parents of the Academy players.

This will therefore provide a more up-to-date training session than the usual lap around the field stuff. I’m sure Rory Delap will be eagerly anticipating the gym, and all the potential to exhibit his monstrous guns, whilst generally looking smug within the facility.

Now onto the Chelsea game, and Filipe Scholari is soiling himself;

“Stoke are more dangerous than all the teams in England and the world. If you look at their statistics, they’ve scored 18 goals and 11 have been from corners, free-kicks or throw-ins. Tomorrow will be a very good test for us.”

He probably knows the inevitable. Chelsea are without Joe Cole and Deco which leaves them short in midfield. Their defence has been rubbish recently. Their zonal marking in corners doesn’t work, (space can’t score is the cliched argument, although Stephen Hawking might have something to say about that) and their impressive home record has been absolutely demolished.

On our side, we have James Beattie ready to make a debut, and Salif Diao returning from injury. We will all feel confident after that result against Liverpool, and we are ready for more upsets.

The pitch at Stamford Bridge is quite wide, so Delap’s throws might not have too much consequence on the game. I’d also say our full backs have quite a job on their hands, as Chelsea have a lot of wide men keen to take players on, including their own full backs. I feel a very interesting situation will emerge on our left hand side of the pitch. Bosingwa does indeed like to ‘bomb on’ and his bombing will leave their left hand side open to attack from the brilliant Etherington. Therefore,  a number of situations would probably emerge with him taking on one of Chelsea’s central defenders, a real avenue for us to exploit as a result.

With the bottom half of the premiership so open, this game could see us either drop down into 2nd last place, or perhaps catapult us up the table. It all comes down to our performance. I’m sure Pulis would have the players right up for this, and i’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve.

i reckon we’ll manage a shock 2-1 win.

Loans Loans Loans!

January 16, 2009

So lets sum up all that’s happened to us from a transfer perspective; A strange loan bid for Andy Gray (not the commentator) was turned down, and we have shipped off some fine young talents in Soares and Dickinson to Charlton and Leeds respectively.

To start with, an initial offer was made for a mass loan involving Soares, Pericard, and Dickinson heading Charlton’s way and the solitary figure of Gray traipsing nervously up to the gates of the Britannia. It’s true that Charlton need something drastically to turn their season around, but with all respects, the sight of Vincent Pericard striding eagerly towards Charlton wouldn’t instill much confidence at all. For the meantime, we will have to use him to bargain for someone else.

With the agreed loans however, we can have  more reasons to watch any game involving Charlton or Leeds if we didn’t already desire to. Hopefully the two of them can earn some valuable experience, and come back with new confidence that can hopefully help them break into the first team.

It is quite true that both probably wouldn’t be getting much of a look in for much of the remaining duration of the season, now is the time for old experienced heads to keep us up. Perhaps if we stay up, we can start to combine their youthful enthusiasm with the kind of organisation and stability which experience brings to the table. If we manage to survive in the premier league, i would like our squad to gradually increase in quality each season, a bit like what Sunderland did until they started becoming rubbish. Youngsters like Soares and Dickinson will probably make up the spine of our future team.

We have Chelsea away on Saturday, a game would be well up for. Whilst we can beat anyone who stands in our way, we can also manage to lose to the poorest of teams. What really matters is how we play and how much ambition we have. With James Beattie making his debut, there could be a new feel good factor within the team. More on that game tommorow.

Beattie interview + rival bid for Kaka?

January 14, 2009

Our new signing Beattie has arrived at the Britannia, and though it’s nothing rivalling Beatlemania America; it certainly is a cause for renewed optimism. The promise of a new goal source will raise spirits not only for the squad, but for the fans, who have unswervingly remained loyal to the cause at our lowest hour.

Here’s what the man himself had to say:

“I’ve been brought up to score goals. The gaffer has been great with me, outlining what he wants me to do and what my role will be within the team. I’m definitely ready to give the Premier League another crack and I’m delighted with the opportunity. Stoke City have given me that and hopefully I can show the fans what I can do straight away.”

‘Straight away’ is a vital part of his intentions. For the last few weeks, we have managed to create some clear chances. These against the likes of Liverpool and Man Utd, where they don’t come along too often. We have Chelsea up next, and if we are to fight hard for chances, it is only fitting that we have a man up front who can see to it that we can convert them.

“Hopefully I can help the club stay up, it’s what I’ve come here to do. If the club didn’t have high expectations of staying up I wouldn’t have signed. I’m lucky enough to know a few of the lads already, and I’m assured that I’ll enjoy my time here. Hopefully I can contribute to the dressing room. We know the situation the club is in and I’m prepared to role my sleeves up and fight like every one else.”

It is gratifying to know that he can contribute to the dressing room. It is a group effort to install the new shower system, and those poor builders obviously need a helping hand. I will be looking forward to seeing him also with his sleeves rolled up. obviously he won’t be able to fight like Abdoulaye Faye obviously, but it is nice to know he’s making an effort.

beatstonge

As you can see, Beattie is already acquainted with Michael Tonge. And as you can see, he will be wearing number 20. Hopefully he will get us that many goals this season. I still don’t know what it is that our players wear on their necks, it resembles one of those things priests wear… only sponsored by a major sporting brand.

tghjhgj

Isn’t it just so nice to see a player sign for a club wearing something as mundane as this?  It’s so common for footballers to arrive as if about to attend a 50 Cent concert afterwards. I mean - we’re not going to look at them on the pitch and think, ‘oh he’s a real gangsta.’ We’re instead more likely to make judgements on them based on their footballing ability. If a player likes the idea of parading around with prostitutes slung over their shoulder, then why don’t they just become a truck driver! People like that shouldn’t stand for real football. James Beattie doesn’t wear this nonsense, therefore he is a proper footballer in my books.

In other news, we are to rival Man City’s record breaking bid for Kaka. This is not a story primarily intended to mask my crazy obsession with the Beattie transfer in anyway. Nor is it a ploy to attract attention to this blog. If you don’t believe me, then go and ask him yourself.


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