I find myself quite conflicted with the current situation at Stoke City Football Club. On the one hand I really don’t like the football we are playing, on the other we are doing better than we have in the past two years.
It’s taken two seasons pretty much to get us to this low point we are at now and I don’t think that anybody could rebuild the team/squad in a matter of a few weeks which I believe was the expectation at the start of the season. Aside from that we also have a massive wages bill left as a legacy by Mr Hughes and recruitment has been stagnant most likely because of this. We can’t offload the players we have on the books because they are so bad.
We have had the same or similar squad of players through three different manager sand none of them have gotten a tune from them. I am sorry, but this cannot be just down to the managers being poor. There has to be some more deep-seated rot and I believe that it was a mistake to charge in and sign contracts at the end of last season. We should have done things in a more controlled way and let the manager choose his team and his players and let go any not required where we could. Maybe that’s what happened, but it felt like senior staff making these decisions and imposing them, although this is just a gut feeling and not one with any substance.
The recent comments from the current manager have brought uproar from the supporters. I don’t think that it was a good move at all. I don’t know if he really thought about what he was saying, but take the Bojan thing out for a minute or two – I’ll come back to that – does anybody else find it odd that we call ourselves supporters, but we only support the team when they are doing what we want? Surely if we are supporters we are thus to the bitter end through thick and thin, ‘til death us do part and all that. Isn’t Gary correct, should we not be rallying the troops?
And so to Bojan. That little Spaniard who has captured the hearts of almost every stokie I know. I wonder if he knows just what he means to the supporters and I wonder what he makes of the chants when he isn’t even with the squad? The situation vaguely reminds me of when I got my first management post. I had a team of seven, one of them handed in his notice, he wanted to do something different. I wasn’t overly upset to see him go, he was talented, but we definitely missed his expertise once he had left.
He had only been gone a few days when he asked to return, I didn’t think it was a good idea. The change in the rest of the team had been significant. This person had been a poor influence on the team, probably not intentionally but nonetheless he was not a team player and the effect of this had become apparent once he had been removed. There was a lot of pressure from my boss and from the team to bring him back, but I resisted and now we have a more balanced team, one where anyone could lead, many often do and all help and work for each other.
I’m not saying that Bojan is a bad influence, not at all, what I am saying is that we cannot see and know everything that is happening. He may be very talented, he may be just what we need on the pitch, but he may have a different impact behind the scenes that none of us see or understand.
I was very excited to see Gary Rowett come to Stoke eventually. My son was less so. If he came, as my son suggested, simply because he had his own interests at heart and thought we offered the best way to the premier league, well he’ll be off as soon as he can find a better route to that end. If he truly came because he wanted to do it himself, prove he could build his own team, take that team all the way, do whatever it takes, however long it takes then we should at least give him a season or two. Alex Ferguson finished 11thin his first season, in that Season Man Utd only won one away game so we are already doing better than he did.
And finally… I have to say that the press conference he gave has opened him up to a torrent of stokie humour and sarcasm – I’ll see you all on New Year’s Day – bring on those Delap chants!