Sorry I’ve missed a week Dad, after we lost three games in a row and shipped four goals in each of those games it’s been difficult to find the motivation to sit down and write about Stoke. To make things more difficult I’ve done that thing I usually do where I take too much on. Could do with you giving me one of those priorities chats you were always good at, when you’re ready.
Twelve and Out
Thankfully this week we only conceded the one goal. Unfortunately it was more painful than any of the previous twelve. Stoke had looked decent enough for most of the game and deserved to be in front by a solitary Arnautovic goal but we squandered several decent chances to extend our lead and ended up drawing thanks to a Defoe penalty in the 94th minute.
Strangely I found myself not all that bothered by it. As I looked at the angry shouty bloke a couple of rows in front of me kicking the back of a chair in frustration I was reminded that this game isn’t quite the same without somebody to share the moments with, be they good or bad. Of course it could just be because Stoke’s season has dropped off a cliff now that we are in no danger of relegation or achieving a European spot. Actually a cliff would suggest drama, more one of those moments where you go over the edge but realise there’s a ledge about a foot below you and the fear and panic turns into self-deprecating laughter. Usually when a Premier League team concedes twelve goals in four games there is talk of a crisis but for Stoke the media just seem to have done a collective shrug.
Perhaps the most interesting news to come out of the rumour mill is the (probably bollocks) connection of Mark Hughes with the soon-to-be-vacant Everton job. They have a load of money coming in and the fans seem worried that Martinez is not the right man to trust with it. That makes the Hughes connection even stranger as he has categorically proved that he is not the right man to trust with a load of money, he clearly works better on a budget. I feel strangely apathetic to the thought of him leaving too. He’s been brilliant for attracting big names to the club, players we never would have signed under Pulis, but he’s never particularly impressed me tactically and has never really had much rapport with the fans. I always get the impression that his approach to management is something akin to how most people played Championship Manager. Stick the best players on and assume they’ll do the job.
Maybe that’s harsh, he’s undeniably done a good job, but I’d rather see somebody bring a few players through from the academy. It’s worrying to think that as we gear up for Andy Wilkinson’s testimonial in a couple of weeks he is the last local lad done good to really establish himself in a Stoke team.
So, whilst everything has gone a bit quiet on the Stoke front, there’s been some big news on your recovery. For the first time in a while it feels like you’ve really made some significant progress. About two weeks ago you had the ceramic plate fitted on your skull and all of a sudden you look like you again. There’s no longer a strange hole in your head and they can finally let your hair grow back. It’s the last big operation we’ve all been waiting for and it’s definitely made a difference. You seem more responsive, more awake. Yesterday we got Sean up on video chat and a huge smile sprung onto your face in a way that was undoubtedly a reaction to what you were seeing. Up to now it’s been difficult to know if your reactions were just a coincidence but finally we know that you’re listening and more importantly, understanding.
It feels like every week now we get a little more of you back. I’m sorry to say you have missed this season now but to be honest it’s been mostly forgettable. Next season will be much better, not least because you’ll be there.