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View Full Version : [STORY] The World of Football Management - Chapter 3 - You Can't Win Anything With Kids



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Mark
02-12-13, 03:14 PM
http://www.flughafen-stuttgart.de/media/88628/delta-mit-terminals.jpg?preset=moodimage285&anchor=middlecenter

I absolutely couldn't wait to get home. To be able to sleep in my own flat again which hadn't been used in ten years would be magnificent. It was only a one bedroom flat which was perfect for me at the time. I realised now though, ten years on and with a fair bit of money in the bank from working in Germany that it wasn't ideal any more.

That's what I was thinking about as I boarded the plane at Stuttgart airport which headed to Manchester. By the time it landed, I'd enjoyed a few beers, discreetly ogled the fit air stewardess and had decided that I would look out for a new place in the area. Madeley was my home town after ten years away, I would look into upgrading to a house while renting the flat out. I was thinking it'd be a good idea to build up a bit of a property portfolio.

As I walked through the exits at Manchester airport, I heard someone shouting my name. Expecting to see my family, I was surprised to see that it was Tony Scholes, Stoke City's chief executive.


http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/68847000/jpg/_68847101_68847097.jpg

Mark: Are you talking to me?

Tony: Yes, yes! I was told you were coming home today and was desperate to find you.

Mark: I don't understand. What are you doing here?

Tony: Well, we've been following you with interest over the years, you know. Your job at Alfreton, the work you did at Hoffenheim and of course, Stuttgart. You're very well known around these parts, you know?

Mark: I am? I had no idea...

Tony: Well, of course! How long have you been away?! Especially in Stoke! The country always pay interest to how well their own are doing abroad and you've been very impressive indeed. Peter in particular has always liked the way you work.

Mark: Well, I had no idea. I've been stuck in Germany for 10 years! Wait a minute. Peter? Peter Coates? Stoke's chairman?!

Tony: Yes, yes. Who else?!

Mark: Well, that's what I am asking you!

Tony: OK, let me start from the beginning.

Mark: Would be handy...

Tony directed me out of the airport and into a limousine that he must have arrived in. As we set off away from Manchester, he began to talk...

Tony: Now, as you may already know, we made a very tough decision this Summer. A tough decision but it had to be made...

Mark: I get that, get on with it.

Tony: We've parted company with Tony Pulis...

Mark: You what? After everything he's done for the club?!

Tony: Well, now. I'm not prepared to go into the finer details of it with you, Mark. It's not really any of your business.

Mark: Hang on, I don't even know why I'm here. So right now, I'll say what I like...

Tony: Hmm, OK. But let's just say that we'd grown disillusioned with Tony over the past couple of years. Obviously, he's been a fantastic servant to the club and to bring us back to the top flight for the first time in 40 years, reaching the FA Cup Final for the first time in the club's history and to have a great campaign in the Europa League is something that no fan will ever forget. But what they will want to forget is the football that has been served up in the past 18 months by the club which haven't been very entertaining in the slightest. The football has been of very poor quality and despite spending over £50 million since we were promoted, Tony has never managed to get us into the top ten.

Mark: Right...

Tony: Spending that much money has never been something that Peter has been at ease with. That, and the complete lack of faith in our academy players is something that has always been an issue between the two. Especially when you look at how much money we have invested in establishing a Grade 1 academy.

Mark: OK...

Tony: So we made the decision to let Tony go and to look at bringing someone in who has a history of success and most importantly, isn't afraid to blood young players and can work to a budget.

Mark: And you think that someone is me?

Tony: Well, yes! Look at what you managed to achieve with Alfreton without spending a penny on players. You played a lot of young players there and we've been watching you this year at Stuttgart as well. The amount of home grown players that you had in the squad was something we picked up on. Players like Arne Sievers, Torsten Buck, Tobias Wagner, Tobias Kretschmann. We know you're the man for the job...

Mark: But all that was in Germany! I've never managed in the Premiership before.

Tony: Neither had you managed in Germany before but you did well to win the title twice! So, what do you say?

Mark: Manage my home town club? Surely I'd be mad to turn it down...

Tony: The fans will love it. One of their own in charge of the club and hopefully bringing through home grown players. It's just what Peter wants.

Mark: OK, let's do it!

Tony: Excellent. Just remember though, we want you to build a young squad. Nobody over the age of 21 can be signed.

Mark: What?! But experience is key, that's what I've found in Germany. Without the likes of Arzo, Gonzalo Castro and Ciprian Marica, we'd have struggled!

Tony: That's the point, Mark. Sign only young players, bring them into the first team squad and turn them into first time players who DO have the experience that you speak of.

Mark: Right, what about the players already at the club? Like Ryan Shawcross, Asmir Begovic and the rest who are over 21?

Tony: We've already invested in those players. Play them if you feel the need to but there is no need to sell them unless you wish to.

Mark: Hmm, OK then...

Tony: So you're accepting it?

Mark: Yep, it's a good job that I like a challenge!

Upon learning of the appointment, Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen had only one thing to say:



http://youtu.be/3Es-RIBnba8

Kingsley
02-12-13, 03:53 PM
Nice. Managing your own club is always one of the hardest things to do. No room for sentiment, but some of the best loved players are simply crap in game.

Mark
02-12-13, 04:34 PM
Nice. Managing your own club is always one of the hardest things to do. No room for sentiment, but some of the best loved players are simply crap in game.

The good thing is that there are good players already at Stoke and we are in the top flight already. I'm just not sure yet how I go about promoting the young players as the ones in the squad aren't particularly good anyway :D

Mark
02-12-13, 04:34 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png

I was in awe. This isn't anything like taking over a club in Germany with a 60k stadium but it was my home town club and I, I was the manager!

I can honestly say that when I had started out as a manager with Alfreton all those years ago, it's never once occurred to me that I may one day manage Stoke City but it is truly a dream come true and now I couldn't wait to get my first game at home under my belt at the "bear pit", the Britannia Stadium:


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/Britannia_Stadium_1.JPG

Stoke had now been in the Premiership for a solid five years. Under Tony Pulis, the team had finished 12th, 11th, 13th, 14th and 13th as the former manager struggled to break into the top ten.

Pulis certainly did have the makings of a squad that could achieve a top 10 finish but it was clear that the frustration from the chairman Peter Coates and the supporters lay in the fact that he did not know how to use those players. For too long, the fans had suffered the percentage football that Pulis favoured and players like Jermaine Pennant and Charlie Adam were left kicking their heels on the sidelines.

Before I actually started officially as the manager, I decided to take some time to look into the players that Pulis had left behind. Tony Scholes had been right in saying that Pulis had failed to really look into the academy with no less than 17 players on the books who were under 21 and all hadn't even made an appearance in the first team. In fact, you can add Jamie Ness at 22 years of age to that list as well.

It was actually a good job that Tony Scholes said I didn't have to get rid of those players who were over 21 as looking at the youngsters that we do have, a lot really don't look as though they're ready for the demands of the Premiership but I would certainly give them a chance. But there is no disregarding experience and players like Thomas Sorensen, Peter Crouch, Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant would be needed, at least for the next year or two as I look to build a squad for the future.

There were 43 players on the books overall and I made sure that Crystal Palace and Burnley were aware that Cameron Jerome and Michael Kightly were not going to be spending the season on loan at those respective clubs after all. Likewise with Oussama Assaidi and Stephen Ireland, as much as they will have no doubt been good players for us, I don't like having loan players unless they were needed and they weren't so they would be returning to Liverpool and Aston Villa. There was also a pre-arranged transfer for January with Juan Agudelo coming in as a Bosman signing from New England in America. As a 20 year old forward, I was more than happy to let the transfer go through pending a work permit.

That left me with an inherited squad of:

Goalkeepers
Thomas Sorensen, Asmir Begovic, Jack Butland, Daniel Bachmann.

Defenders
Geoff Cameron, Robert Huth, Andy Wilkinson, Maurice Edu, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters, Ryan Shotton, Brek Shea, Marc Muniesa, Callum Bennett, James Campbell, Ben Glasgow, Kevin Gomez, Alex Grant, Ben Heneghan, Manny Parry.

Midfielders
Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, Wilson Palacios, Charlie Adam, Michael Kightly, Marko Arnautovic, Steven N'Zonzi, Jamie Ness, Lucas Dawson, Jordan Keane, Jordan Richardson, James Alabi, Julien Ngoy

Strikers
Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome, Karim Rossi, Adam Thomas

19 of the above players were going to be out of contract at the end of the season and I wanted to make a decision as to whether I should keep them, regardless of their age or ability or try to cash in on them now.

To help me with that decision, I wanted a team of coaches and an assistant manager with valuable advice. Still at the club as the assistant was Mark Bowen while Andy Davies, Andy Quy, Chris Banks, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Steve Martin were the coaches.

I sent them all an email to thank them for their services to the club but that I would be looking to bring my own men with me. The same applied to physiotherapists Dave Watson and Andrew Dent and scouts Gareth Richards

The only people who did keep their jobs were coach Eddie Niedzwiecki, scouts Craig Oliver, Dale Hunt, Simon Keen and Matty Davidson as well as physiotherapists Andrew Dent and Dave Watson.

As a result, my first day on the job would see me accompanied by:

Assistant Manager - Dennis Rofe.
Coaches - Eddie Newton, Dave Beasant, Thomas Wilhelmi, Jan Ericsson.
Scouts - Rob Walker, Markus Rauffmann, Simon Staal.
Physiotherapists - Dave Hancock, Richard Harper, Harry Wilshaw.


http://www.afcb.co.uk/cms_images/rofe-4334-412342_478x359.jpg
Dennis Rofe will act as my right hand man after being out of work following spells at Southampton (twice), Bristol Rovers and AFC Bournemouth

Jan Ericsson (Trelleborg - £16K), Richard Harper (Grays - £40K), Harry Wilshaw (Newcastle Town - £60K), Rob Walker (Portsmouth - £65K) and Markus Rauffmann (Omonia Nicosia - £5K) were the only staff who arrived from other clubs which cost me money in compensation as I spent £190K of Mr. Coates money before I had even stepped foot at Clayton Woods.

But at least the backroom staff was now prepared and I was ready to throw myself back into the world of football management once again!

Kingsley
02-12-13, 05:24 PM
Can Thistle have Andy Wilkinson back on loan pease. I promise to be very good and not put up any naughty pictures again. Pretty please.

Mark
02-12-13, 05:56 PM
:lol: I keep forgetting he had a loan spell with you. It's still the only time he has scored in his whole career as well. We still sing every time he shoots "If Wilko scores, we're on the pitch!". It'll definitely happen as well so I really hope he scores at home one day...!

Kingsley
02-12-13, 09:17 PM
Still a ledge at Firhill. Even as a teenager he was a class better than any player on our side. That said, any pub player with 5 pints in them would be a class better than anyone in the Britton & Whyte 1st division side, and anyone in that side was a class better than anyone in the Dick Campell side.

Jesus and I though we had some bad performances this season. History has been pretty crap for us.

Anyway. Sorry for the digression. Back to Stoke and your challenge

BobMem
02-12-13, 11:00 PM
Managing your home town club. I always end up picking the starting XI for at least fir first game based on who I like and nothing to do with their stats :)

Best of luck!

ebfatz
03-12-13, 12:01 AM
That Jan Ericsson gets about a bit.
he was looking for a job at ourfootballclub a while ago! :lol:

Good luck with this.
Forget the Class of 92! The Class of (whatever year you are starting in. (I guess 2001 as you are not a patch guy)) will better them!

In time I think. Ten year project at least I think.
Let's hope Coates is patient.

kuy
03-12-13, 12:56 AM
Building a young side around existing players is how I usually play the game so I'll be following this :ok: Looks like you have enough quality in the squad already to maintain the mid-table position while you overhaul the youngsters

Mark
03-12-13, 10:18 AM
Still a ledge at Firhill. Even as a teenager he was a class better than any player on our side. That said, any pub player with 5 pints in them would be a class better than anyone in the Britton & Whyte 1st division side, and anyone in that side was a class better than anyone in the Dick Campell side.

Jesus and I though we had some bad performances this season. History has been pretty crap for us.

Anyway. Sorry for the digression. Back to Stoke and your challenge

:lol: I'm glad he made a good impression up there. He's not as much of a regular in the past year or so as he's constantly getting injured. Got a feeling that he won't stick around for much longer under Hughes either.


Managing your home town club. I always end up picking the starting XI for at least fir first game based on who I like and nothing to do with their stats :)

Best of luck!

That would be too loyal of me :D I'm gonna be a bit more tougher on my team selections as you all already know from my past experiences :D


That Jan Ericsson gets about a bit.
he was looking for a job at ourfootballclub a while ago! :lol:

Good luck with this.
Forget the Class of 92! The Class of (whatever year you are starting in. (I guess 2001 as you are not a patch guy)) will better them!

In time I think. Ten year project at least I think.
Let's hope Coates is patient.

Yep, always in 2001 mate. I would be delighted if I can match the class of 92! Definitely going to take a few years to see the youngsters kick in though, I think.

Jan Ericsson :D He has such great stats!


Building a young side around existing players is how I usually play the game so I'll be following this :ok: Looks like you have enough quality in the squad already to maintain the mid-table position while you overhaul the youngsters

Hopefully mate! I think that's the right way to go about it as drastic changes for young players could result in a relegation battle or being cannon fodder!

I'm certainly looking forwards to getting this one going!

Mark
03-12-13, 12:25 PM
http://www.stokecityfc.com/cms_images/other/1-img-3527-copy226-234899.jpg

If there was one thing that Stoke have got right recently, it was the development of Clayton Woods which cost a reported £6 million and it certainly was impressive. After greeting the new guys that I had hired at the reception, we were all shown by Tony Scholes to our new state of the art home including personal offices for each and every one of us.

Something I learnt early on is that Tony Pulis kept the academy players separate from the first team players when it came to training. So the first thing I did was to abolish that rule and merged the two groups together. Any player on the books at Stoke City would train together, no matter of their status or age. It would be a valuable experience for the young players to train with their first team players and in return, the experienced lads would be expected to pass on their wisdom.

As the first training session got underway, I didn't even need the advice of the players to know that the youngsters looked woefully out of their depth. Perhaps Tony Pulis was right after all about the calibre of these academy players? 12 of them were out of contract at the end of this season as well but I decided to be fair and offer them new deals. After all, Peter Coates and Tony Scholes wanted to promote the image of a family club that blood their own players and given them a chance at life as a professional. There were just too many players out there that get culled on a regular basis every year that end up playing in the non-leagues and it wasn't fair. That would certainly change at Stoke even if those 12 young players didn't look particularly good but we will certainly put in the hours to try and improve those players.

At the same time as offering new contracts, I made all of the young lads aged 20 or under available for loans away from the club. Experience at other clubs would be vital and the likes of Rio Ferdinand (Bournemouth) and David Beckham (Preston) have repeatedly said that loans at teams of a lower standard gave them a valuable insight into life at a lower level.

If we weren't able to get those lads out to gain some experience, then they'd certainly get games as an under 21 squad or what is known as 'elite development squad' where all 20 teams in the Premiership will play what are effectively known as reserve games against each other as well as an official senior match. This was something that I attempted to do at Alfreton before I was sacked so I was delighted to have a chance to do so again.

The idea will be that any player under the age of 21 will be placed in the 'Elite Development Squad' until they turn 22 years of age and they'd be promoted to the first team squad. Dennis Rofe, as my assistant, will handle the reserve matches to which I will oversee from the stands. The team will adopt the same formation that I plan to use for the first team which is a favoured 4-5-1 formation with emphasis on attacking wingers and an advanced centralised midfielder so that they will be familiar with the formation when they pull on a first team shirt.

That of course, means that the squad will be separated as:

First Team
G: Thomas Sorensen, Asmir Begovic.
D: Geoff Cameron, Robert Huth, Andy Wilkinson, Maurice Edu, Ryan Shawcross, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters, Ryan Shotton, Brek Shea, Marc Muniesa.
M: Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, Wilson Palacios, Charlie Adam, Michael Kightly, Marko Arnautovic, Steven N'Zonzi, Jamie Ness.
S: Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome.

The above are basically every player in the squad who are aged 21 or above.

Elite Development Squad
G: Jack Butland, Daniel Bachmann.
D: Callum Bennett, James Campbell, Ben Glasgow, Kevin Gomez, Alex Grant, Ben Heneghan, Manny Parry.
M: Lucas Dawson, Jordan Keane, Jordan Richardson, James Alabi, Julien Ngoy.
S: Karim Rossi, Adam Thomas.

The above are players aged 20 or below. At the end of each season, the hope is that players that have turned 21 years of age will then be promoted into the first team.

Of course, there may be times where I may not have enough options to choose from in the first team and in such situations, I will not have any qualms about calling up a player from the development squad and I shall look forwards to such times!


http://e1.365dm.com/13/08/768x432/165012893_2579206795001_video-still-for-video-2579202085001.jpg
Peter Coates talks to Sky Sports with the Clayton Woods training pitches in the background

Myself and the newly assembled backroom staff will get an early look at the players in a friendly at Elland Road after Leeds manager Brian McDermott asked if I was interested in a game at their place. I certainly was!

Before that game came around, I was pleased to see the following players commit to new deals without any signing on fee required:
Jordan Keane, Lucas Dawson, Jordan Richardson, Manny Parry, James Campbell, Daniel Bachmann, James Alabi, Karim Rossi, Ben Heneghan, Callum Bennett, Adam Thomas, Ben Glasgow and Thomas Sorensen.

I did though, have to throw in a fee to persuade the following to stay with us:
Jermaine Pennant, Andy Wilkinson, Matthew Etherington, Kenwyne Jones and Marc Wilson.

In total, £2,257,602 was spent on signing on fees to just tie down 5 first team players!

Then, it was time to play Leeds at Elland Road:


Thomas Sorensen
Geoff Cameron - Robert Huth - Maurice Edu - Andy Wilkinson
Glenn Whelan
Charlie Adam
Jermaine Pennant - Jonathan Walters - Matthew Etherington
Peter Crouch

The above were those who started the match and I'll be honest enough to say that it is most likely going to be my preferred starting eleven throughout the season. It was a team of experience and I felt that it was exactly what we'd need to start my tenure as I look to slowly evolve the squad and bring youngsters in as those experienced players leave the club as the seasons go by.

For now, this was a selection based purely on experience that stepped on the pitch at Elland Road and it was Maurice Edu who put us in an early lead. Brian McDermott's side, with a 4-1 friendly defeat by Newcastle already under their belts, rallied to take the lead by the 76th minute through Ross McCormack and Luke Varney in a second half that had been disrupted by 7 substitutions by ourselves with Ryan Shawcross, Kenwyne Jones, Wilson Palacios, Michael Kightly, Marc Wilson, Erik Pieters and Marko Arnautovic getting on the pitch leaving only Asmir Begovic and Cameron Jerome as unused subsititutes. The game didn't end as 2-1 to Leeds though as Michael Kightly made the most of a ball that bounced his way after a Michael Brown tackle on Jonathan Walters to lash the ball into the net to tie the game in injury time.


http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/80369/article_d103b448425b78f3_1345462734_9j-4aaqsk.jpeg
Michael Kightly celebrates as Stoke equalise in injury time.

I was pleased with the outcome of the game though. A lot of players got some minutes ahead of the first game of the season against Everton at home which would be a big ask in itself with Roberto Martinez also in charge for the first time for Everton.

Craig Oliver was the scout tasked with eyeing up the next opposition for me this season and had been told to specifically inform me if any players aged 21 or under were worth looking into, even if they were first team players at their clubs. His first report resulted in my lodging bids for Jake Adelson, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu, Shane Duffy and one Romelu Lukaku. The chances of getting such players may be minimal but I had to start somewhere in buying players and where better than a club who produced the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jack Rodwell in recent years gone by?

Mark
04-12-13, 05:48 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - August

Rejected Offers

Jake Adelson (Everton), Ross Barkley (Everton), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona), Shane Duffy (Everton), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Connor Wickham (Sunderland), Leandro Paredes (Boca), Manuel Lanzini (River).

Loans Out

Jordan Keane (Accrington).

National Selections
Senior: Maurice Edu (USA), Brek Shea (USA), Geoff Cameron (USA), Erik Pieters (Holland), Asmir Begovic (Bosnia), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Wilson Palacios (Honduras), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Marko Arnautovic (Austria), Charlie Adam (Scotland), Karim Rossi (Switzerland).
Under 21: Marc Muniesa (Spain), Daniel Bachmann (Austria), James Campbell (Scotland), Kevin Gomez (Holland), Jack Butland (England).

Game #1 - Everton

The Elite Development squad were in action first at Goodison Park where Dennis Rofe secretly took orders in terms of team selection and substitutions with myself watching on from the stands with interest and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I witnessed against a very strong Everton team. Jack Butland was named as captain as the eldest of the group and despite only having four options on the bench, the youngsters made a good account of themselves, holding Everton all the way up to the 90th minute where Nikica Jelavic scored against the run of play after we had kept Shane Duffy and co. busy for large periods of the game. Despite that late goal, the players showed fantastic attitude to score within seconds of the restart with Adam Thomas coming off the bench to equalise.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1fw_zpsbbea74ae.png

If only the same could be said of the first team squad for my first home match in charge of Stoke. A strike by Romelu Lukaku put Everton ahead after just two minutes but Sylvain Distin earned a red card after a horrifically late challenge on Peter Crouch. It took us a while to get going with the extra man but Peter Crouch equalised before half-time only for Lukaku to strike again to leave us searching for an equaliser that never came in the final 52 minutes and to make matters worse, we lost Robert Huth to injury for two weeks although thanks to the international break, he should be fit for our next match.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1fw_zps8f6d7259.png

August Review

We played just one game in August as we kicked the season off with a disappointing debut defeat at home. The youth squad did well to earn a point against an experienced Everton side but the first team were found wanting despite the advantage of an extra man.

We were certainly getting the club's name out there in terms of international callups as well at both senior and international level with a major surprise in seeing Karim Rossi called into the Switzerland's senior squad. Daniel Bachmann (3-2 vs Bulgaria), Jack Butland (1-1 vs France), James Campbell (1-1 vs Poland), Marc Muniesa (1-0 vs Holland), Kevin Gomez (0-1 vs Spain) were those selected for the U21's while Asmir Begovic (3-0 vs Bosnia), Marko Arnautovic (2-1 vs Bulgaria), Jonathan Walters (0-2 vs Czech Republic), Charlie Adam (2-1 vs Poland), Erik Pieters (0-2 vs Spain) and Karim Rossi (1-1 vs Denmark). Karim Rossi was an 86th minute substitution for Switzerland as he replaced Xherdan Shaqiri as they were losing 1-0 although he was not involved in the equaliser. Nevertheless, I'm pleased to have another international player in our development squad (Jack Butland has already been capped once for England) even if he has yet to play for our first team!

The only transfer news of the month was the offer from James Beattie to take Jordan Keane on loan for the season to Accrington. I was delighted to accept to give the 19 year old central midfielder the best possible experience in the Third Division and he certainly made a good impression on his first game, playing the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw against AFC Wimbledon. He has gone on to play every minute of Accrington's five games in August in which they have won once, drawn once but lost twice in the league. They have though, recorded an impressive 2-1 win against Charlton in the League Cup 1st Round although he has yet to manage a goal or assist to his name.

In other news, we were handed a home tie in the Second Round of the League Cup and Third Division Portsmouth would be our opponents.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1fw_zps7fd48093.png

ebfatz
04-12-13, 07:49 PM
Oviedo and Gibson played in both games against you.
That'll probably happen a few times this season.

Decent account from the young 'uns against a strong Everton side.
No one has found a way to stop Lukaku so don't be down on yourself.
I don't think it'll be too long before Butland is knocking on the first team door.

kuy
05-12-13, 12:48 AM
Would have been nice to start with a win but there'll be easier matches than Everton. Be good to make the Britannia a fortress though! Nice cup draw, will you play the youngsters?

Mark
05-12-13, 11:36 AM
Oviedo and Gibson played in both games against you.
That'll probably happen a few times this season.

Decent account from the young 'uns against a strong Everton side.
No one has found a way to stop Lukaku so don't be down on yourself.
I don't think it'll be too long before Butland is knocking on the first team door.

I didn't even pick up on that. That's interesting to see! Nobody can stop the big Romelu! Shame my cheeky bid for him was rejected :D

Butland is definitely going to be a first teamer in the future. The trick is whether I can keep him happy as backup until Sorensen and Begovic move on, if at all given that Tommy has signed a new deal to stay on beyond this season.


Would have been nice to start with a win but there'll be easier matches than Everton. Be good to make the Britannia a fortress though! Nice cup draw, will you play the youngsters?

Fortress Britannia indeed! Can't tell you how disappointed I was not to come out of that game with a point at least.

I actually don't know what's best with the cup matches. I've never been one to make mass changes in the cups so I'm a bit undecided on that one. Would certainly like to give the youngsters a run out but I'm one of those who likes a certain selection policy and stick to it for every match.

Kingsley
05-12-13, 12:59 PM
Disappointing to start with a loss, especially against 10 men or so long. Always tricky to tempt players away from current clubs early in the first season and I would expect Lukaku to be available in the new year if you keep him on your radar.

Early doors, so September will tell us more about yor prospects

Redknapp69
05-12-13, 01:03 PM
This is superb Mark! Will deffo keep an eye on this!

Mark
05-12-13, 01:35 PM
Disappointing to start with a loss, especially against 10 men or so long. Always tricky to tempt players away from current clubs early in the first season and I would expect Lukaku to be available in the new year if you keep him on your radar.

Early doors, so September will tell us more about yor prospects

I have noticed a lot of young lads with relegation release fees too, so keep your fingers crossed for the likes of Everton and Southampton to be relegated :D


This is superb Mark! Will deffo keep an eye on this!

Cheers mate! Great to see you following. I've decided on a different tack in terms of presenting the story which is a lot like Bulk's so I hope people enjoy it just as much as that one.

Mark
05-12-13, 01:35 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - September

Transfers In
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/bijevfw_zps11eae5c8.png

When Marko Arnautovic came off the bench to play for Austria against Bulgaria, I spotted Villyan Bijev playing up front for Bulgaria and marked his debut for Bulgaria with a goal although Austria won the game 2-1. A 20 year old striker, Bijev was at Liverpool and I was delighted to bring him to the club as my first signing for £1.3m. He will go into the development squad for the time being and be the first choice striker ahead of Karim Rossi, Adam Thomas and James Alabi.

Rejected Offers
Lucas Rodriguez (Argentinos), Luciano Vietto (Racing), Hector Villalba (San Lorenzo), Terry Antonis (Sydney FC), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Reise Allassani (Crystal Palace), Michael Chambers (Crystal Palace), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Adam Morgan (Liverpool), Michael Gregoritsch (Hoffenheim), Jose Campana (Crystal Palace), Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid), Seweryn Michalski (Mechelen), Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao), David Costas (Celta), Pawel Wszolek (Sampdoria), Todor Chavorski (Levski), Vaclav Kadec (Frankfurt), Robert Zulj (Ried), Dylan Tombides (West Ham), Stephen O'Donnell (Partick Thistle), Dominik Furman (Legia Warszawa), Jordan Graham (Aston Villa), Mikey Drennan (Aston Villa), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Wilfried Zaha (Man Utd), Erik Lamela (Tottenham).

As you can tell, I was left disappointed a LOT this month. Admittedly, we don't have a lot of money anyway but I was testing the waters with a lot of these bids. Some players were picked up by my scouts while others are those who impressed in games that either Stoke (both levels) played in or were players who shone in international games that featured my own players.

Unfortunately, by the end of September, the club were spending £3.1m on wages but only pulling in £1.1m in the same month meaning that my transfers funds which was around £10m at the start of the season was quickly draining away so I wasn't going to be able to make many transfers after all but I would certainly be keeping tabs on players for when that time does come.

Loans Out
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/keanefw_zpsbffd43b2.png

After playing in every match for Accrington in August, Jordan Keane was used just 4 times in a 7 match month for Accrington who are 18th in the league table. Nevertheless, it was still a good experience so far for the lad as he certainly wouldn't get games for me this season. They were beaten 3-1 by Burnley in the 2nd Round of the League Cup where he did play very well.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/bennettfw_zps5b39352d.png

Callum Bennett became a second player to be loaned out towards the end of September when Hinckley United took him on for the rest of the season. Although I was disappointed that it wasn't a Football League outfit that were loaning him, I still accepted the loan but he has yet to play for manager Stuart Storer.

National Selections
Senior: Erik Pieters (Holland), Asmir Begovic (Bosnia), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Marko Arnautovic (Austria), Charlie Adam (Scotland), Villyan Bijev (Bulgaria).
Under 21: Alex Grant (Australia), Marc Muniesa (Spain), Kevin Gomez (Holland), Jack Butland (England), Karim Rossi (Switzerland), Daniel Bachmann (Austria), James Campbell (Scotland).

The club are well represented again this month internationally but I was very disappointed for Karim Rossi who has dropped into the Switzerland under-21 squad despite making his international debut last month.

League Game #2 - Sunderland

There was no game for the development squad against Sunderland so my attentions were fully focused on the senior squad for the first away game of the season at Sunderland. Robert Huth passed a late fitness test so I was pleased to name an unchanged line-up for the game. We certainly got off to a great start with Peter Crouch finding the net to make it two goals in two games before Charlie Adam was sent off for headbutting Lee Cattermole. That moment of madness put paid to our hopes of three points as Emanuele Guiaccherini equalised within a minute and David Vaughan gave Sunderland the lead after half-time. Somehow though, we rescued a point right at the death as Kenwyne Jones came off the bench to score.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior2fw_zps6cf3a4fd.png

League Game #3 - Southampton

There was disappointment in the development squad that they didn't have a match to play against Sunderland but they were in action against Southampton. With Lucas Dawson still out of action after picking up an injury at Everton, his place went to Callum Bennett with Ben Heneghan coming into the team at centre-back leaving me with just three players on the bench. Meanwhile, there were a few recognisable names in the Southampton team with the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis and Jos Hooiveld starting. The result was another excellent performance away from Clayton Woods where our academy players should play their home games. This time, newly capped Switzerland striker scored his first goal for us to win the game.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve2fw_zps837367d3.png

The senior squad was unchanged despite Charlie Adam's behaviour in the previous match. My only backup for central midfield is Jamie Ness and he will get his chance in the side when Adam serves the three match suspension. Remarkably, yet another match for me in the Premiership witnessed a red card as Adam Lallana was sent off for a two footed challenge on Jermaine Pennant inside the box. A red card was given and Jonathan Walters scored the resulting penalty. I was disappointed though to see Gaston Ramirez equalise before Charlie Adam made amends for his red card at Sunderland by scoring the winner. An injury to Wilson Palacios then overshadowed the result as we had to play with 10 men for the last few minutes of the game but I did at last have my first victory as Stoke manager!

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League Game #4 - Crystal Palace

There was to be no reserve match against Sean Dyche's Crystal Palace as I had something of an injury crisis on my hands as we travelled to Selhurst Park. In addition to Wilson Palacios being injured from the last game, I also had Jonathan Walters, Charlie Adam and Peter Crouch out due to training injuries! That saw Glenn Whelan, Jamie Ness, Marko Arnautovic and Kenwyne Jones start in their place without the need to call up any youngsters. This was a good chance for Jamie Ness though who would have been part of the academy last year and marks his first league appearance for the club. Before the game, I would have labelled this a winnable match so imagine my fury when Danny Gabbidon put Crystal Palace ahead before Yala Bolasie also had a goal disallowed. The problem was a lack of creativity in the final third as we struggled to really test Julian Speroni, even when the customary red card was shown to Stuart O'Keefe on the hour as we crashed to defeat.

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League Cup #1 - Portsmouth

I did a lot of heavy thinking about the team ahead of this Second Round League Cup match against a Portsmouth side who are 4th in the Third Division. Some might have thought that I would select a young team but I decided against it. I had only won once in the first four matches in the league with the board reportedly unhappy at the defeat at Crystal Palace so a bad result at home to Portsmouth would pile on the pressure even further. For that reason, I opted to make life easy for myself by selecting the best team that I had which saw Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch restored after recovering from injuries in place of Marko Arnautovic and Kenwyne Jones. It was a move that paid off within three minutes with Peter Crouch scoring. The big man struck again before David Connolly pulled one back for the visitors but there was always going to be one winner with Jermaine Pennant, Robert Huth, Michael Kightly and Kenwyne Jones opening their accounts for the season.

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League Game #5 - Aston Villa

Charlie Adam and Wilson Palacios were the only absentees for a Monday night match that was live on Sky Sports at home to Aston Villa. I was hoping that the 6-1 win over Portsmouth had given the team the confidence to go out and score goals in the Premiership and where better to do so than on national TV at home? We certainly started strongly and soon had a goal with Jonathan Walters converted a cross from Jermaine Pennant. Maurice Edu then made it 2-0 in the second half after he was in the right place at the right time when a Glenn Whelan shot hit the crossbar and bounced back in his path. But the players seemed to switch off then with Karim El Ahmadi (not a noted goalscorer) of all people coming off the bench to score twice in three minutes when he'd been on the pitch for just 4 minutes! Two points lost!

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League Game #6 - Manchester United

Only their third game of the season, the development squad had a tough test now against a Manchester United reserve side at Clayton Woods. By now, Callum Bennett had joined Hinckley United on loan but Lucas Dawson was back from injury to take his vacant spot in central midfield. The other change was a start for new signing Villyan Bijev up front with Karim Rossi going onto the bench where we were only able to name four players. Once again, the youngsters surprised me and even more so against a team containing two Ashley Young's (one's an 18 year old trialist left-back!), Ryan Giggs, Anderson and Wilfried Zaha. Something told me the league match at Old Trafford wouldn't quite be the same...

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There was just one change to the team with Wilson Palacios returning to the line-up after he passed a late fitness test, Glenn Whelan dropping to the bench in the process. Man Utd were hit by two withdrawals in the first half and I was looking to make the most of that as David Moyes used up all three subs by half-time. We were testing David de Gea but just couldn't get past him until Robert Huth was knocked over in the box by Rio Ferdinand and Jonathan Walters duly dispatched the penalty that was awarded. The hosts still had the quality to hurt us though and that they did with Antonio Valencia drilling a shot across the ground into the net in his usual fashion.

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September Review

Our record in September reads two wins, three draws and one defeat for in a busy 6 game month which isn't bad reading at all. But the major disappointment is that we lost to Crystal Palace in a game that we should have won and we threw away four points by losing leads against Aston Villa and Man Utd which could have left us 10th in the table. But given that it's still early days under new management and I've already had to chop and change the starting eleven due to injuries and suspensions, I'm quite happy with where we are in the table, especially with up to two games in hand on a few teams around us.

The rapid reduction of my transfer budget is a worry to me so I am starting to look at ways that I can stop the club losing money each month. It's not ideal, but I'll have to look at selling some of my first team players which will no doubt give those youngsters in the academy hope of getting a first team spot sooner than they expected. It will be a slow and gradual process though starting with an ageing veteran and a player who is unhappy at his lack of regular football. As the oldest player in the squad, 37 year old Thomas Sorensen has been made available for transfer despite being my current number one. The player who isn't happy sitting on the sidelines is Steven N'Zonzi who has found himself third in the pecking order in defensive midfield with Wilson Palacios and Glenn Whelan ahead of him. The 24 year old has also been made available for transfer which is a shame really as I could have seen him being a long term player for us.

Internationally, our American trio of Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu were all involved in a 1-1 draw against Mexico while Alex Grant made an appearance for Australia Under-21's as they beat New Zealand 1-0.

In other news, after a great 6-1 win over Portsmouth in the 2nd Round of the League Cup, we were handed another home draw for the 3rd Round which will be against 4th placed First Division side Middlesbrough.

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Kingsley
05-12-13, 03:00 PM
A penalty at Old Trafford with the game at 0-0 ! Is that not enough for you this month ?

A few card happy refs out there but I guess you win some and loose some. The Bulgarian lad looks like a prospect and with Butland in the reserves loosing Sorenson won't be that much of a problem especially as he will be on a decent wage. Are you regretting offering all these new deals ? I expect most wanted more than their existing wage so that will have increased the outgoings.

Edit to add .... And keep your grubby mittens off SOD. His goal (4:39 in to this) is a thing of beauty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-cr93DZAWU&list=PLB4736A6B995E2951

Mark
05-12-13, 04:08 PM
Excellent goal, cool and composed! Can see it being Bijev playing him in for that at the Britanna ;)

I suppose I don't regret offering those deals really. I wanted to keep them on board but as things stand, I'll have to sell some players just to keep our heads above water. I don't want to be in the position of debt when I really want to be bringing new players in.

kuy
05-12-13, 09:44 PM
Anyone in the world would take a point away at Old Trafford, but apart from that you've dropped lots of points against teams you'd expect to be around you - will the form pick up up as the players get used to your system?

Mark
06-12-13, 10:44 AM
I hope so! Otherwise we're fairly screwed! :D

Mark
06-12-13, 10:45 AM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - October

Transfers In
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/gardnerfw_zpsee097ed1.png

Craig Oliver recommended Gary Gardner amongst other Aston Villa players before we were due to play them in the Premiership and I was delighted to make him my second signing for just £625K. As a 21 year old, he'll go straight into my first team squad although he'll have Jonathan Walters and Marko Arnautovic ahead of him in the pecking order. But I'm pleased to add him as an attacking option knowing that there is a 3rd choice to call upon.

Loans Out
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Checking up on the progress of Jordan Keane, I'm pleased to see he has been back in the Accrington line-up and started 5 of their last 6 games having missed their last match. The team has seen a turnaround in fortunes as they've rose up to 13th and Keane has played his part as he bagged his first professional career goal after 3 minutes in a 2-1 win at Northampton. He also turned provider in a 3-1 win at home to Torquay to show that he has that element to his game too.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/bennett1fw_zps6b6eaca7.png

Callum Bennett has also finally played his first game for Hinckley United at right-back who have beaten Forest Green 2-0 in the Qualifying Round of the FA Cup to be drawn against our rivals Port Vale in the 1st Round. I hope for Callum's sake he wins that one! He's also played 4 games in the league and looks to be doing very well.

National Selections
Senior: Geoff Cameron (USA), Maurice Edu (USA), Brek Shea (USA), Marko Arnautovic (Austria), Villyan Bijev (Bulgaria), Asmir Begovic (Bosnia), Erik Pieters (Holland), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Charlie Adam (Scotland).
Under 21: Daniel Bachmann (Austria), Jack Butland (England), Kevin Gomez (Holland), Marc Muniesa (Spain), James Campbell (Scotland), Karim Rossi (Switzerland).

Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu were stars of the show for the USA against Guatemala as they won 3-1 with Edu getting on the scoresheet and Cameron named as Man of the Match. Elsewhere, Villyan Bijev followed up his goalscoring debut for Bulgaria with a stunning hat-trick in a 4-4 draw at Belarus! I certainly cannot wait until the likes of Crouch, Jones and Jerome are moved on in order to see just what this guy can do.

League Game #7 - Tottenham

Lucas Dawson was the star of the development squad in that fantastic 3-1 win over Man Utd but for a second time this season, was out of action through injury after a groin strain. That left me with just three substitutions as James Campbell moved into central midfield and Manny Parry, primarily a centre-back, played out of position at defensive midfield. For the first time this season, the lads were completely outplayed and it was hardly surprising against a midfield four of Moussa Dembele, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lewis Holtby and Andros Townsend which wouldn't look out of place in their first team! We were already 3 goals down by the time Villyan Bijev won a penalty and he converted it himself before Souleymane Coulibaly, now firmly on my radar, struck again.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve4fw_zps6eee5ec8.png

Back from a 3 match ban, Charlie Adam was immediately reinstated in the side at the expense of Jamie Ness who had acquitted himself very well in Adam's place. A 5th goal of the season for Peter Crouch put us ahead after just three minutes but two goals in a minute in the 45th saw Paulinho and Aaron Lennon secure the victory for Tottenham.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior8fw_zpsdadb8e8b.png

League Game #8 - Fulham

Lucas Dawson still being out of action meant that it was an unchanged line-up again for the visit of Fulham's reserve squad. The team actually played quite well despite going a goal down to Hugo Rodallega before Sean Kavanagh was sent off for headbutting 15 year old Julien Ngoy. After that point, Marcus Bettinelli was letting nothing past him.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve5fw_zps0ccbbcb3.png

Despite defeat to Tottenham, I kept the side unchanged as we travelled to Fulham where Darren Bent put the hosts ahead. Offensively, we were rather poor and it looked as though it wasn't going to be our day when Maurice Edu was injured until Charlie Adam popped up with an equaliser in the second half with an excellent half volley.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior9fw_zps2c7b3fc4.png

League Game #9 - Cardiff

It was a stubbed toe that had forced Maurice Edu off the pitch at Fulham and it kept him out of the team for the visit of Cardiff. That saw a first start of the season for Ryan Shawcross who has only made two appearances from the bench this season. We went on to record a clean sheet but a 5th draw of the season in 9 games.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior10fw_zpsae100b02.png

League Cup #2 - Middlesbrough

Whoever was in charge of the fixture schedule wants shooting. This game took place 48 hours after the match against Cardiff which was a Monday night TV fixture. Naturally that meant I felt compelled to rotate the squad as only Thomas Sorensen and Jonathan Walters kept their places. But in some ways, it was OK as it gave me my first chance to play an academy player as Ben Heneghan was called into the starting line-up to play alongside Marc Wilson in defence although I had plenty of cover in the other positions. 3rd in the First Division, this would be a tough game to play with ex-Stoke defender Jonathan Woodgate leading them out as captain. It certainly was a game in which we had to keep plugging away and on the 65th minute, we finally got the breakthrough through Kenwyne Jones who added another 4 minutes later. Meanwhile, Heneghan did "OK" as he won all of his tackles but looked a little suspect in the air. It was good to give a young lad a run out though and hopefully there'll be more opportunities to do so in the future!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior11fw_zpse4a32795.png

October Review

Our failure to kill games off was certainly costing us in the league now as we were now 16th yet level on points with Norwich and Crystal Palace with our goal difference keeping us out of the danger. With games against Liverpool and Arsenal in November, we had to be looking at winning against West Brom, Norwich and West Ham to stay out of danger with the season getting into full swing. It was encouraging through to record our first clean sheet of the season against Cardiff and to follow it up with another against Middlesbrough.

That Middlesbrough game was the first example of my handing a chance to a youth player. With Maurice Edu injured and Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth are deemed unfit after playing 2 days prior, Ben Heneghan became the first of the development squad to not only be called into the first team squad but also started and played the entire match, contributing to a clean sheet. It should give him plenty of confidence and will offer hope to the other members of the development squad that chances will fall their way.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/heneghanfw_zpse1269e26.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table3fw_zpsbcb45c1f.png

Kingsley
06-12-13, 02:30 PM
Henderson follows the Pulis philosophy of first make yourself hard to beat. Some disappointing results in that lot particularly against teams that you should be aiming to be around come the prize giving time of the season. Gardner looks as if he could come good if he toughens up a bit.

Mark
06-12-13, 03:23 PM
Henderson follows the Pulis philosophy of first make yourself hard to beat. Some disappointing results in that lot particularly against teams that you should be aiming to be around come the prize giving time of the season. Gardner looks as if he could come good if he toughens up a bit.

Hopefully Gardner will progress into being a first team player. He has the best chance of going so as he's 21 already so slotted straight into the senior squad. He'll certainly get his chances, I'm sure.

We are definitely struggling to get results against teams you'd expect us to beat. Need to nip that in the bud ASAP!

BobMem
06-12-13, 05:09 PM
1 win in 9?! Rumours around the terraces that maybe Pulis wasn't all that bad :lol:

It will come good Mark, this team has the feel of something on the brink of a good run. Hope you smash Norwich!

Mark
06-12-13, 05:22 PM
Mark Hughes has only won 1 game in 10 IRL as well :D

kuy
07-12-13, 12:18 PM
Some big games coming up, let's hope the win against Boro can spur you on to a good run in the league. Will Kenwyne Jones keep his place after his two-goal display or will Crouch go back into the team?

Mark
07-12-13, 12:26 PM
Crouch will most likely go straight back in, he has a record of 1 goal every 2 games so far which isn't to be sniffed at. Jones is getting on from the bench a lot though.

Redknapp69
07-12-13, 03:11 PM
wow - tough start Mark but you're changing the philosophy of the club so hopefully board give you time

What is board's confidence level with you at the mo?

What formation are you playing as well?

Is Sorensen really better than Begovic?!

Yes - some poor results against the teams around you but this is the start of your project

Like the look of the Gardner guy as well

Mark
09-12-13, 10:05 AM
I've not appeared in the job insecure list but after the Palace defeat, they made it known that they weren't impressed :( The usual 4-5-1 formation that I always play everywhere :D

He probably isn't but given that I'm opting for experience to begin with, Soresen's age puts him first in the pecking order. Likewise with the rest of the squad.

Mark
09-12-13, 12:39 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - November

Schedule
League - A - Liverpool
League - H - West Brom
League - A - Norwich
League Cup - A - Southampton
League - H - West Ham

Liverpool aside, this was a run of fixtures that I hoped we could win to take us away from the relegation spots. I was targeting 9 points and especially six from the home games against West Brom and West Ham. It would also be nice to progress against a Southampton team that we had already beaten this year to be put into the draw for the Quarter Final of the League Cup but league safety is my main priority in my first year at the club.

Transfers
Unfortunately, there were no new faces to join Villyan Bijev and Gary Gardner at the club so far this season. In fact, I didn't even attempt to sign anybody given that my transfer funds were now well and truly depleted. Wages were continuing to eat up the club's overall funds which was now making my decision to tie the likes of Thomas Sorensen and Kenwyne Jones to new deals very bad indeed. I was having no joy in moving on Thomas Sorensen and Steven N'Zonzi who I had transfer listed last month and now Peter Crouch, Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant and Jonathan Walters joined them on the list as over 30's in the squad along with Wilson Palacios who reported that he wanted a new challenge in his career. As first team players, I just hoped that this group of players put in decent performers to attract buyers so that I can save the club from falling into debt.

Results
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http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior16fw_zpsd4c90f9b.png

What a disastrous start to the month. I secretly didn't expect to get a result at Liverpool who beat us 1-0 to a Victor Moses goal but we were actually very unlucky in the end as we had more of the chances which we just couldn't take. That was followed up by a poor defeat to West Brom at home in which Nicolas Anelka scored an 87th minute winner after we had fought back to level the game. A horrific 3-0 defeat at Norwich followed in a game in which I had expected us to take the game to them. That run of three defeats left the club and my job looking under threat indeed as supporters made their unhappiness known and so did the board. A 3-1 win at Southampton in the League Cup did help a little to relieve the pressure in a fantastic game but it wasn't a league game. But we did then follow it up with a first win in 10 games over West Ham against whom we already led 2-1 before James Collins was sent off. It was a key victory that brought the club away from 19th to 17th with two games in hand on a few teams around us.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table4fw_zpsef22e0da.png

Development Squad
With the senior squad struggling, there were also three games to play in November for the development squad as they faced Liverpool, West Ham and Newcastle. Playing against his former employers, Villyan Bijev was fantastic in a 3-2 win in which 16 year old Julien Ngoy wonderkid notched his first goal for us as the winner. A disappointing 3-2 defeat at West Ham followed where James Alabi did score twice to open his account for the season before the team had to work hard in a 1-1 draw against Newcastle. Lucas Dawson had put us ahead before Michael Richardson equalised. However, Ben Heneghan, the only player who had appeared in the first team, was sent off for shoving Mariano Diaz which put the team under pressure but they managed to hang on for the draw.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve6fw_zps03e0874f.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve7fw_zps275533ad.png
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Loanees
Jordan Keane - 15 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.93.
Callum Bennett - 10 games, 1 MoM, 7.40.

I'm disappointed to see that after a month in which Jordan Keane scored his first career goal, he played just once for Accrington in their 4 game week. Things are not going all too well for James Beattie with four defeats including a 2-0 beating by Crawley in the FA Cup 1st Round. Keane was a substitute in their first game in November, a 3-0 defeat at Burton Albion but has not been involved in their squads since.

It's a different story for Callum Bennett though who appears to be first choice right-back for non-league Hinckley United where he has been named as Man of the Match in a league game for them. The big news for Hinckley United though is that they tied our local rivals Port Vale to a 2-2 draw at Vale Park before then pulling off a shock by beating them 3-2 in the replay with Bennett playing every minute in both games. Their reward is a home tie in the 2nd Round against MK Dons.

National Selections
Senior: Marko Arnautovic (Austria), Asmir Begovic (Bosnia), Wilson Palacios (Honduras), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Erik Pieters (Holland), Brek Shea (USA), Villyan Bijev (Bulgaria).
Under 21: Marc Muniesa (Spain), James Campbell (Scotland), Kevin Gomez (Holland), Daniel Bachmann (Austria).

On the international scene, Asmir Begovic suffered a horror show at the hands of Brazil, conceding three goals before being sent off in a 4-1 defeat. Elsewhere, Daniel Bachmann was named as Man of the Match as Austria beat Montenegro 1-0 while Villyan Bijev kept up his fantastic form for Bulgaria by scoring his 5th goal in just 3 caps although his side lost 5-1 to Poland.

kuy
09-12-13, 12:56 PM
Looks like there are some decent youngsters rotting in the reserves at other Premier League clubs - if I were you I'd have an eye on Jordan Ibe, Oussama Assaidi, Adam Morgan, Ravel Morrison, Gael Bigirimana and Haris Vuckic, ready for when you've got a bit more in the bank :ok:

BobMem
09-12-13, 02:11 PM
Need to shift some of those big earners to clear some funds. The longer they stay the longer you'll lose cash.
The best thing to do is not tie any of your senior players to new, long contracts... :P

Must have been a relief to get the win against West Ham. Is the league cup a distraction?

Mark
09-12-13, 02:18 PM
Looks like there are some decent youngsters rotting in the reserves at other Premier League clubs - if I were you I'd have an eye on Jordan Ibe, Oussama Assaidi, Adam Morgan, Ravel Morrison, Gael Bigirimana and Haris Vuckic, ready for when you've got a bit more in the bank :ok:

Any young player who has starred against me has been added to my shortlist, even those I've spotted while watching my own players on U21 duty as well :ok: If only I had some bloody money!


Need to shift some of those big earners to clear some funds. The longer they stay the longer you'll lose cash.
The best thing to do is not tie any of your senior players to new, long contracts... :P

Must have been a relief to get the win against West Ham. Is the league cup a distraction?

I know that now :( Eejit flagged me up on offering those deals when I posted about them. Wish I hadn't done it now and just looked to cash in on those expiring :(

I don't know about being a distraction, we just need to use the form in the league cup games in the league itself. It's the one thing we're not doing.

Kingsley
09-12-13, 03:20 PM
Ouch !

I'm saying nothing about your contract management, but the senior team are seriously letting you down when up against teams you should be rolling over. Big time charies only interested in the big games. My guess is that if the listed players are not getting any offers, it probably means that they are planning on retiring at the end of the year.

Is it worth offering some new contracts at reduced wages with deals that end in the summer, just to get them off your books ? Alternatively, the League Cup should get you into Europe and some much needed additional revenue. On the downside the 2 legged semi final comes at a bad time for fixture congestion.

Redknapp69
09-12-13, 03:27 PM
Ouch of a month!

In order to raise awareness of my transfer listed players that have no 'watchers' I do the following

1 - reduce price to zero. This USUALLY generates a few interested clubs. I then put price back up (to default price or whatever) and they stay interested and then bids come in

2 - same as 1 but just leave price at zero. When bid for 0 comes in, counter back with an offer. But what I do is counter back with part exchanges or usually counter back asking for thier most valuable players - the club then usually counters back to me with a good offer and some times an amazing offer more than what he is worth in first place!

3 - I ALWAYS try and 25% of next sell on where possible - usually gets you some good future income

Mark
11-12-13, 12:24 PM
Ouch !

I'm saying nothing about your contract management, but the senior team are seriously letting you down when up against teams you should be rolling over. Big time charies only interested in the big games. My guess is that if the listed players are not getting any offers, it probably means that they are planning on retiring at the end of the year.

Is it worth offering some new contracts at reduced wages with deals that end in the summer, just to get them off your books ? Alternatively, the League Cup should get you into Europe and some much needed additional revenue. On the downside the 2 legged semi final comes at a bad time for fixture congestion.

I can only imagine Sorensen will retire, but can't see it happening with Crouch and Etherington. Could be wrong though! I don't think anyone will consider new contracts now, especially at reduced terms :(

The upside to that though is that the young lads will get a run out in the fixture congested run if we make it that far. That's what I certainly would like to see!


Ouch of a month!

In order to raise awareness of my transfer listed players that have no 'watchers' I do the following

1 - reduce price to zero. This USUALLY generates a few interested clubs. I then put price back up (to default price or whatever) and they stay interested and then bids come in

2 - same as 1 but just leave price at zero. When bid for 0 comes in, counter back with an offer. But what I do is counter back with part exchanges or usually counter back asking for thier most valuable players - the club then usually counters back to me with a good offer and some times an amazing offer more than what he is worth in first place!

3 - I ALWAYS try and 25% of next sell on where possible - usually gets you some good future income

I already know about your transfer policies thanks to ourfootballclub :D Especially about 25% on every transfer :D Let's hope I do manage to get a few of the books this way.

Mark
11-12-13, 02:43 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - December

Schedule
League - A - Newcastle
League - A - Hull
League Cup - H - Man City
League - A - Chelsea
League - A - Arsenal
League - A - Swansea
League - H - Man City
League - H - Arsenal

Oh... My... God! So I get to play Arsenal twice and Man City twice as well as Chelsea! Then the rest of the games are all away from home! You just knew that with discontent in the stands which had now filtered through to some of the players, this was going to be a massive month for me in terms of whether I can somehow get the players to perform to get the club out of trouble or if things go bad, then it's almost certain that Peter Coates will not have the patience that was promised when I took the job. After last month, there was no way that I was going to set a target of points to achieve, I was just going to have to take it game by game.

Transfers
Although there was £475K to spend on players, the club itself was actually £594,102 in debt at the start of the month which meant that I had to take drastic action. The entire first team squad was made available for transfer with the exception of 21 year old Marc Muniesa and Gary Gardner. This could be a move that spells disaster for me, were the players going to react badly to such news or would it make them play out of their skins to get a move away from the club? There was only one way to find out...

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior17fw_zpsdde227fc.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior18fw_zpscb69c803.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior19fw_zps6b6626b0.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior20fw_zps72eb139b.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior21fw_zps542de6ce.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior22fw_zpsf644373d.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior23fw_zpsda98cfa3.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior24fw_zpscb8c1d6c.png

Looking at the fixture list for December, I think a lot of fans will have hoped we started the result with wins against Newcastle and especially at Hull, even if they were away games. But we were poor as we conceded 5 goals and suddenly, my job was unsurprisingly slightly insecure. Clearly, picking a team of experience wasn't working so the selection policy changed for the League Cup Quarter Final match against Man City and a double from Jamie Ness got us a shock 2-1 win to put us into the League Cup Semi Final! I stuck with that policy for the remainder of the month and we were unable to get anything out of visits to Chelsea (where Gary Gardner got his first goal!) and Arsenal while I was aggrieved to see a lead at Swansea thrown away by a red card to Steven N'Zonzi. Thankfully, Thomas Sorensen was in great form to help us to a point before we were unable to beat Man City again despite a late red card for Alvaro Negredo. But then came an even bigger shock than the Man City win in the League Cup as we put 4 goals past Wojciech Szczesny with Jamie Ness again bagging a brace and Cameron Jerome too on his first league start. That win took us off the bottom of the table where we had fallen after the draw to Swansea and into 18th place.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table5fw_zps8b677000.png

Development Squad
The Development Squad managed to get three games under their belts this month with great wins over Hull and Swansea before being downed 4-2 by Arsenal. By that game, I had James Alabi out injured so Adam Thomas was playing out of position along with James Campbell who has been playing in a different position all season. Lucas Dawson and Villyan Bijev were clearly our best players so far in the squad as Dawson made it 5 in 7 matches while Bijev had 6 to his name in 9 which will stand him in good stead as he would soon be 21 and therefore promoted to the senior squad.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve9fw_zps9e2fde9a.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve10fw_zps895db7a5.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve11fw_zpscd5c2884.png

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 20 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.90.
Callum Bennett - 15 games, 3 MoM, 7.33.

I'm pleased to see that after a spell out of the team at Accrington, Jordan Keane was back in the fold having played 5 of 6 games, missing only a Vans Trophy match. He has now doubled his tally of assists after setting up the goal that secured a point against Fleetwood as Accrington remain 19th in the table.

Callum Bennett also played five times in December and has now picked up an extra two man of the match awards as he continues to shine at Hinckley United. Their excellent run in the FA Cup unfortunately came at an end when MK Dons beat them 3-1 and I'm sorry to say that Callum was withdrawn from the game on the 53rd minute after the 3rd goal was conceded. Hopefully that game will be a valuable lesson for the 20 year old right-back though.

Kingsley
11-12-13, 02:54 PM
Mark Henderson was driving up the M6 on his way back to Stoke. He had his foot down a bit and the needle on the speedo passed 100, 110 then 120. Behind him he saw a blue flashing light which was soon right on his tail he pulled over and the police car stopped in front of him.

Henderson - Officer ..... How can I help ?
Officer - Oh ! It's you Mr Henderson. That will be fine .... You can carry on your way
Henderson - Jeeezus Christ ..... What the fuck do I have to do to get 3 points ?

Mark
11-12-13, 02:56 PM
:lol: I thought that would be along the lines of the recent joke doing the rounds that Man Utd are giving away 3 points at the moment :lol:

Redknapp69
12-12-13, 01:23 AM
Blimey Mark - nothing to shout about there

Is there still no interest in the transfer listed players?

You need a change of luck otherwise this story could be over quicker than you thought!

Kingsley
12-12-13, 12:17 PM
It does look as if your experienced players are only interested in the big games. The likes of Hull and Swansea (OK there was the red card and late equaliser, but you should have been out of sight) and they just don't turn up. Big time Charlies ! Bring in the youngsters who want to play for the shirt.

Mark
12-12-13, 03:01 PM
Blimey Mark - nothing to shout about there

Is there still no interest in the transfer listed players?

You need a change of luck otherwise this story could be over quicker than you thought!

Wouldn't quite say that, we've got to the semi final of the League Cup :D

Had a few bids when I put them on 0 but the responses weren't good enough so I've given up on that malarky and just left it set to auto-valuation which is what I usually do.


It does look as if your experienced players are only interested in the big games. The likes of Hull and Swansea (OK there was the red card and late equaliser, but you should have been out of sight) and they just don't turn up. Big time Charlies ! Bring in the youngsters who want to play for the shirt.

It is starting to go that way in fairness. Jamie Ness has played a few games now along with Marc Muniesa and Gary Gardner too.

kuy
12-12-13, 11:26 PM
Good wins against Man City and Arsenal but to be honest, I think Peter Coates has been pretty patient already! Jamie Ness looks like he's done alright since he's come into the team though, which bodes well for your policy of bringing through younger players

Mark
13-12-13, 02:34 PM
Good wins against Man City and Arsenal but to be honest, I think Peter Coates has been pretty patient already! Jamie Ness looks like he's done alright since he's come into the team though, which bodes well for your policy of bringing through younger players

He has although my job is on the slightly insecure list now though :(

I forgot to mention that Martin Jol has got the bullet as well, both of us went on the list at the same time and he got the chop first. Please don't make me next, Coatesy!

Mark
13-12-13, 04:28 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - January

Schedule
League - A - Aston Villa
FA Cup - H - Fulham
League - H - Sunderland
League - H - Chelsea
League - A - Everton
League Cup - H - Tottenham

After an incredibly tough month in December, we have an easier time of it in the league although I shouldn't be saying that as there are no easy games at this level! But since abandoning the policy of selecting a team on experience and instead picking by those in form, there has been an upturn in performances which got us an excellent 4-1 win over Arsenal in the league. It was important now to start picking up points against teams who are in a similar position to ourselves and that's certainly the case this month with games against Sunderland and Fulham although that particular game is our 3rd Round fixture in the FA Cup while we also have a Leg 1 Quarter Final match against Tottenham which takes place at home.

Transfers
The club was half a million in debt at the start of December and have now lost a further two million to leave us exactly £2,792,994 in the red. The squad is still up for sale and while we were attracting bids for the likes of Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch, Thomas Sorensen and Matthew Etherington, the clubs were often backing out when I asked for money near to their estimated valuation. I wasn't prepared to let players go on the cheap as we needed their full valuation to help us in the long term rather than a quick fix in just getting their wages off the books. The club may be in the red but I was prepared to be patience in the hope that realistic bids would come in.

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior25fw_zps257ffad2.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior26fw_zps92eb28da.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior27fw_zpsf7db4245.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior28fw_zpse4e7bd32.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior29fw_zps62e4f30a.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior30fw_zpsffa20cf3.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior31fw_zps5bf08930.png

We started the month as one of three teams yet to win away from home along with West Ham and Swansea. I sensed that Aston Villa away was a good opportunity to break that trend but we could only draw although we were quite solid. That solidity wasn't there in the last 10 minutes of the next game though in the FA Cup as we were seemingly on our way through before Aaron Hughes forced a replay. My disappointment was forgotten in the next game though as we had an important game against a team a place above us and we put in a fantastic performance to come from behind to win 2-1 with Jamie Ness's 5th goal of the season and Marko Arnautovic coming off the bench to score his first goal for us as the winner! Arnautovic was close to saving us in the FA Cup Replay at Fulham when coming off the bench again to pull one back from 2-0 down but unfortunately, Dimitar Berbatov struck again to put us out of the FA Cup. I wasn't too fussed though as I wanted full focus on the league now and we already had the League Cup to distract us. The next match resulted in another 0-0 draw but at Everton which could have been a tricky game. Despite the four match unbeaten run in the league, my job was insecure for the last league game of the month which was Chelsea at home. A big win here could have eased the pressure before the League Cup match but Oscar put Chelsea ahead with the first shot of the game and Peter Crouch came off the bench to equalise with the last shot of the game! That was a result that seemed to save me as we rose to 15th and I was no longer under threat! With the pressure off, we were able to close the month with a fine 3-0 win over Tottenham in the first leg of League Cup Semi Final courtesy of a 3rd goal of the season by Gary Gardner, an 8th by Peter Crouch and a first for Matthew Etherington.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table6fw_zps3d3349d5.png

Development Squad
James Alabi came back from injury to start in a 3-2 defeat against Sunderland where Villyan Bijev was on the scoresheet yet again to make it 7 in 10 games for our development squad. Bijev struck again against Everton as lost by the same scoreline before a 40 year old Kevin Phillips put Crystal Palace on their way at Selhurst Park and a first goal of the season for Jordan Richardson helped us to a 1-1 draw.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve12fw_zps145bb397.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve13fw_zpsde32c049.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve14fw_zps4d87449a.png

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 21 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.90.
Callum Bennett - 19 games, 4 MoM, 7.47.

Despite getting back into the Accrington team during December, Jordan Keane has only played once for them as they failed to win a single game during January to leave them 20th in the Third Division. It was only until the last game of the month that Keane started where Accrington surrendered a 2-1 lead to Bury who won 3-2.

Hinckley United were now out of the FA Cup and as a result, Callum Bennett only had non-league games to play for them at right-back. He played four times for them and picked up yet another Man of the Match award and I would really like to see him tested in the Football League itself now which is something that we can hopefully arrange for next season.

Kingsley
13-12-13, 06:36 PM
As the nun's gynocologist said "it's tight down there"

Some much better performances from your big players and hopefully you can carry that form iinto next month. The Tottenham game was superb. It doesn't look far away from their strongest side.

Is your name on the league cup ?

kuy
14-12-13, 03:48 PM
I reckon you'd have taken six points in the league from that lot, seven or eight would have been nice but it's good to get out of the relegation zone. Going to be an exciting end to the season!

ebfatz
14-12-13, 09:53 PM
Your brief is to have an under 21 squad.
So play them!
Ness is in, Gardner is in!

We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!

Almost every screenie of a development game shows him scoring.
Unleash him!!

Redknapp69
15-12-13, 02:44 AM
Better month there mate and surely a cup final appearance! (That should also bring in a few quid)

BobMem
15-12-13, 11:18 AM
New Year, new Stoke! Much better run of games. The league is tight though, there's no single team being totally rubbish like there often is. You're going to have to do this the hard way!

KUTGW!

Mark
16-12-13, 11:40 AM
As the nun's gynocologist said "it's tight down there"

Some much better performances from your big players and hopefully you can carry that form iinto next month. The Tottenham game was superb. It doesn't look far away from their strongest side.

Is your name on the league cup ?

Spurs only played 3 players with less than 15 starts (Rose, Naughton and Sigurdsson) but it's definitely a great win nonetheless!


I reckon you'd have taken six points in the league from that lot, seven or eight would have been nice but it's good to get out of the relegation zone. Going to be an exciting end to the season!

I think 6 points from Sunderland and Villa would have been ideal for sure but at least we've got a bit of an unbeaten run going now.


Your brief is to have an under 21 squad.
So play them!
Ness is in, Gardner is in!

We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!
We want Bijev!

Almost every screenie of a development game shows him scoring.
Unleash him!!

Indeed, he has 8 goals in 12 games for the development squad while also scoring 5 goals in 3 caps for Bulgaria. I've been waiting for him to turn 21 years of age in order to promote him to the first team though and guess what...


Better month there mate and surely a cup final appearance! (That should also bring in a few quid)

That is true, we got nearly £400K in TV money last month which was helpful! Now we just need to finish the job to get that Wembley appearance!


New Year, new Stoke! Much better run of games. The league is tight though, there's no single team being totally rubbish like there often is. You're going to have to do this the hard way!

KUTGW!

As Eejit said, ""it's tight down there". I'm glad we've gotten out of the bottom three but we do need to start turning the draws into wins!

Mark
16-12-13, 12:33 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - February

Schedule
League - H - Crystal Palace
League - A - Southampton
League - H - Man Utd
League Cup - A - Tottenham
League - A - Cardiff

After playing 8 games in December and 7 in January, we only have to play five matches in February which will come as a relief to the players. The squad has actually coped OK with the demand and the rotation to keep the fitness up seemed to have worked OK considering we were unbeaten since losing 3-1 to Man City on Boxing Day. That run of games, as well as an impressive win over Tottenham in the League Cup has helped to clear any doubts over my job but I wasn't going to relax at all. We now had key games against Crystal Palace and Cardiff who were two points ahead and behind me while we also needed to finish the job against Tottenham to a first appearance in a League Cup final since the club won it in 1960.

Transfers
As you probably expected, our debt increased to £4,127,622. Such figures are a worry with the club now recording losses of £16,849,601 so far this season! Despite that though, there was £475K in the transfer kitty which allowed me to have a nose around at some youngsters who may be available. For £80K from Sochaux, I spotted Valentin Hayoz who had partnered Karim Rossi up-front for Switzerland in the under-21's. The 19 year old became my 3rd signing of the season and went straight into the development squad. He would now compete again with Rossi as well as Adam Thomas.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/hayozfw_zps8335bd79.png

There were no departures either but one man will be leaving the club in the Summer after Robert Huth agreed a £3.9M transfer to Hoffenheim. All I could do now was hope that I could add a few more pre-arranged deals to get the club out of the red come the Summer.

There was also another change at the club as well with Villyan Bijev promoted to the first team squad. After arriving for £1.3M almost 5 months ago, Villyan Bijev had scored 8 goals for the development squad and had recently turned 21 years of age. That to me was a sign that he was now ready to compete for a first team spot even though we already had Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome there as well as Marko Arnautovic and Jonathan Walters. He started started our first game of the month.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/bijev1fw_zps42ff8991.png

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior32fw_zpsc73707e0.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior33fw_zps32b557af.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior34fw_zps6bbc9264.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior35fw_zps8ea7dc91.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior36fw_zpse514953a.png

Bijev played very well on his debut but tired early on to be subbed by Cameron Jerome who added to a Charlie Adam opener which defeated Crystal Palace 2-0. We then played Southampton who we'd beaten twice already this season and had the best of starts with Jos Hooiveld sent off for a push on Jermaine Pennant before Nathaniel Clyne was injured which saw Adam Lallana drop back into left-back. We then dominated with both of my signings putting in star performances. Bijev struck a hat-trick and Gary Gardner scored twice and suddenly, the fans appreciated the job that I was trying to do as we finally won an away game i the league. By now, we had the best run in the league with 7 matches unbeaten but Man Utd came to Stoke and put that to a disappointing end. Next was Tottenham who were trailing by 3 goals in the 1st leg of the League Cup Semi-Final. They scored early and while Pennant equalised, Tottenham were running the show and soon went 3-1 ahead to leave the fans worried out of their minds. But somehow, Gardner and Bijev got on the scoresheet to tie the game and send us through with a 6-3 aggregate victory! We were favourites to win the League Cup now as the other semi-finalists were Burnley and QPR with Burnley winning 5-3 on aggregate! More importantly to me though was that we ended the month on an even better high by defeating Cardiff away to put a healthy looking 8 points between ourselves and the bottom three!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table7fw_zps33a8aa9a.png

Development Squad
With Villyan Bijev promoted to the first team and Lucas Dawson out injured, the development squad was looking very fragile indeed with just two players on the bench. Daniel Bachmann made a first start in a tough game against Man Utd where three players were forced to play out of position. Despite that, we played very well and I just hoped that I can add extra bodies into the squad within the next six months. Our new signing Hayoz did arrive for the Cardiff match and made his first appearance in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to a 10 man side.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve15fw_zpse36fc013.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve16fw_zps4dcebdfe.png

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 24 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.92.
Callum Bennett - 22 games, 4 MoM, 7.55.

Fortunes seem to be improving for Accrington in a unbeaten February and I'm pleased to see that Jordan Keane did actually start twice and come off the bench for three of their five games. He still isn't quite making an impact from midfield in terms of goals or assists though so I'm not overly sure what the future lies for him.

Another three games for Callum Bennett at Hinckley United has seen his average rating improve even further for the non-league outfit. Bennett will be 21 in 10 months so he will be seen in the first team next year but it could be a massive jump for him from the non-league here to the Premiership (assuming we avoid relegation, of course!).

Kingsley
16-12-13, 12:43 PM
All troubles over now. Should be midtable mediocrity (standard fare for Stoke Fans) for the rest of the season. Great chance to win a silver pot and European qualification now.

I hope that all your signings are as good as Bijev, although it is worrying that he has to come off in the second half so often.

Mark
16-12-13, 01:04 PM
I'm not taking anything for granted! The horror start to the season could always come back and we've got the big guns to play again for the rest of the season. You never know though.

Bijev has been excellent! I think the first game was because he'd played for the development squad earlier in the week but other than that, he's been OK so far fitness wise. I subbed him in the Crystal Palace match too because of a gruelling midweek game at Spurs.

BobMem
16-12-13, 02:55 PM
8 points clear with 10 to go. Not safe yet but a long way there, especially with so many teams also in the mixer!

Whoever was calling for Bijev got it spot on.

Mark
16-12-13, 03:24 PM
That'll be ebfatz who will no doubt claim it was his idea that saved Stoke's season :lol:

I was always going to promote him this month though. It'd been my plan to put anyone under 21 in the development squad to begin with and then promote them when they do turn 21. That way, they've been at the club for a while, settled in nicely, tested themselves in a few reserve games and then make the step up :)

Redknapp69
17-12-13, 03:49 AM
SUPERB Month mate!

Bijev with a promising start and into the final - happy days for this month of February! The Valentines god must have passed some love to the Potteries!

Mark
17-12-13, 01:31 PM
:lol: Is it all downhill from here though? Hopefully not!

Mark
17-12-13, 03:19 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - March

Schedule
League - H - Fulham
League - A - West Brom
League Cup - N - Burnley

Only three games are scheduled for March but each one of them is as important as the other. Fulham are a team who are two places and 4 points behind us in the table and victory would be vital in the lead to the West Brom game who are three places and 5 points ahead of us! We could potentially go up to 10th if we win both games and hope other results go our way. To do so would certainly send us on the way to the Millennium Stadium full of confidence to play against a First Division team in the League Cup Final. I certainly hoped to be the man who would bring the League Cup back to the Potteries for the first time since 1960.

Transfers
With the club now approaching £7m in debt, I'm sad to say that I haven't received any offers for my players in order to help cut that debt down. At the same time, I haven't brought any new faces into the club before the transfer deadline passed. Now all I can do is try my utmost to flog a few faces over the Summer.

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior37fw_zps147b76ab.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior38fw_zpsad82e24d.png

We were hit with a sucker punch by Steve Sidwell after dominating the first half against Fulham where Jermaine Pennant saw a shot rattle the woodwork. Thankfully, Pennant did find the net in the second half but that was all for naught as Hugo Rodallega scored an injury time winner as we were given an undeserved defeat. West Brom soon followed and we looked comfortable as Charlie Adam and Gary Gardner scored 7th goals of the season before Shane Long pulled one back to ensure a nervy end to the game.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table8fw_zpsc2b17c9c.png

A loss of form for Villyan Bijev and Ryan Shawcross saw them relegated to the bench for the League Cup Final where we suffered the shock of going two goals down inside the opening half hour. I was mortified! This was the club's best chance of winning a trophy for over 40 years and the players were throwing that chance away! With the team still trailing at half-time, there were a few certain choice words to be heard from myself to the players in the dressing room and I'm delighted to say that they responded to not only get the game back to level terms but to go on and win the game itself 4-2! We were League Cup winners!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/leaguecupfinalfw_zps7dfeed44.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior39fw_zps41372e74.png

Development Squad
What are Kieran Richardson, Brede Hangeland and Dimitar Berbatov if not first team players at Fulham? I was shocked to see at least 7 first team players in their line-up as the development squad took them on at Craven Cottage but it'd be quite an experience for the lads with Jordan Richardson bagging a couple of goals. Richardson was on the scoresheet again for his 5th of the season as the lads bounced back from a Graham Dorrans opener to win a thrilling game 4-3 in which Valentin Hayoz scored his first goal in a Stoke shirt.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve17fw_zpsf0029224.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve18fw_zps7f32ecf8.png

International Selections
Senior: Asmir Begovic (Bosnia), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Villyan Bijev (Bulgaria), Erik Pieters (Holland), Charlie Adam (Scotland).
B: Valentin Hayoz (Switzerland).
Under 21: Marc Muniesa (Spain), Kevin Gomez (Holland).

I was pleased to see that my latest signing Valentin Hayoz was given his first cap at 'B' level for Switzerland for whom I'd spotted him at under-21 level but unfortunately, he came back injured with a neck problem. We don't seem to have had as many players making an appearance for their nations so there isn't much to report from their games although I have spotted a few players who have now been added to my ever expanding shortlist.

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 26 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.88.
Callum Bennett - 27 games, 4 MoM, 7.59.

Callum Bennett just keeps on going at Hinckley United with another five games under his belt and his average rating improving yet again to 7.59. It's not so great for Jordan Keane though who played just two games before suffering a shoulder injury which he has not yet recovered from. Accrington meanwhile, have firmly pulled themselves away from the threat of relegation by moving up to 14th in the Third Division.

ZanSnake
17-12-13, 03:33 PM
Calling BS on Jerome scoring a goal, i say as apart of the dubious goals panel - that it was indeed an own goal from the corner flag.

Congrats on winning Silverware, probably the first piece Stoke have won this generation

Mark
17-12-13, 04:36 PM
Jerome is ace :lol:

It certainly is, the biggest trophy Stoke have ever won is the League Cup back in 1972 although for some reason it's listed as 1960 in the game.

kuy
17-12-13, 07:59 PM
Champions! And what a fightback to win it too!

Be nice to win your league game in hand, who's it against? I see it must be a top-half side...

Mark
18-12-13, 12:53 PM
Liverpool :eek:

Didn't think we'd recover so well to win it. What's worse is that there was no congratulations or supporter joy after winning it. :(

Mark
18-12-13, 01:40 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - April

Schedule
League - H - Liverpool
League - A - Tottenham
League - H - Newcastle
League - A - West Ham
League - H - Norwich
League - H - Hull

As we start to approach the end of the season, we have a six game month ahead in April with a very tough start against Liverpool and Tottenham. We've lost to them both by a goal in the league but pulled off a great win against Spurs in the League Cup so I knew that anything could happen. Points from either game would be a bonus for us as we then face teams who are around us in the table. It's time now to secure our place for next season which was my main objective at the start of the season.

Transfers
As we already know, the transfer window passed last month so there was no activity in the transfer market to speak of. Not even any pre-arranged deals for any of our players which I had been hoping to do.

I promoted a player into the first team squad for the second time this season. Jack Butland was now 21 and moves up after 18 games in the development squad where he shipped 31 goals. It's a poor record but you do have to bear in mind that he had very raw and undeveloped defenders in front of him. I don't expect him to make an impact in the first team for a while as Thomas Sorensen has been our number one all season with Asmir Begovic not even managing a game for us but I am glad to "blood" another player from the development squad even if he isn't one of my own signings.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/butlandfw_zps444cf107.png

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior40fw_zps8bbe1676.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior41fw_zps9302ce72.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior42fw_zps5c8462cc.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior43fw_zps32b3a02d.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior44fw_zpsbadc24a8.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior45fw_zps93710fbf.png

The 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool looked bad but the truth was that we had matched them in all department apart from actually beating the goalkeeper. We then went one further by conceding 4 goals at Tottenham where we actually took the lead through Peter Crouch which again left me disappointed. Having failed to get any points from those two games, I urged the players to start taking maximum points from the rest of our games in April but Cheick Tiote condemned us to a third straight defeat. At West Ham, I handed a debut to 20 year old Lucas Dawson who I'd called up after Charlie Adam was injured and Jamie Ness wasn't quite fit. We were down 2-0 before managing to fight back to earn a point to end that run of 3 straight defeats. Two home games were next to play and this time I definitely wanted 6 points from both and I'm pleased to say that some last gap defending against Norwich ended a run of 4 games without a win while Gary Gardner's 10th goal of the season looked to have secured us a win over Hull before Sone Aluko equalised late on. Then up popped captain Ryan Shawcross with a much needed winner atlhough looking at the table, we were still not mathematically safe from relegation with two games to play!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table9fw_zps5ce728ac.png

Development Squad
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve19fw_zps99a6af90.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve20fw_zpsbf22e9bd.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve21fw_zps048736e9.png

With Villyan Bijev and Jack Butland promoted to the first team this year, the development squad had a rather bare look about it as we could only name three players on the bench. I wasn't too worried about it though as it made sure everyone was getting plenty of game time for this season and I would hopefully start to add a good number of new faces for next season. It's not as though we were struggling either having lost only 9 of 21 games at this level.

International Selections
Senior: Marko Arnautovic (Austria), Glenn Whelan (Ireland), Jonathan Walters (Ireland), Erik Pieters (Holland),
Asmir Begovic (Bosnia).
B: Ryan Shawcross (England).
Under 21: Marc Muniesa (Spain), Kevin Gomez (Holland).

Having started the season out of the team, I was delighted for Ryan Shawcross when he was named as captain for the England B team which lost 2-1 to France. Shawcross has been superb of late and fully deserves his call-up and hopefully he could now get a 2nd cap for the senior squad.

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 26 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.88.
Callum Bennett - 31 games, 1 assist, 6 MoM, 7.61.

Despite recovering from injury, Jordan Keane has not even made it onto the bench for a rejuvenated Accrington team which is disappointing from our point of view. Things have improved even further for Callum Bennett who has improved his average rating over 4 games where he's won another two man of the match awards and managed an assist for the first time this season as well.

BobMem
18-12-13, 01:58 PM
Jerome is ace :lol:

It certainly is, the biggest trophy Stoke have ever won is the League Cup back in 1972 although for some reason it's listed as 1960 in the game.

That's because the data update has all the recent winners, but thinks the date is 2001. The Premier League Winners for the last 2 seasons should be listed as Man City and Man Utd, but dated 2000 and 2001 respectively.

You're correct to say you're not mathematically safe, but you have a good goal difference advantage over Norwich (your -7 to their -20 odd). I think you can play the reserves for 2 matches and relax...

Would be magnificent to see Norwich go down, who are your 2 remaining fixtures against?

Mark
18-12-13, 02:34 PM
Man City and Swansea, will not be any letting down from me though. I want victories in every game I play!

You'd think I would know that the winners would be 12 years out :lol:

Mark
18-12-13, 02:42 PM
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/29/Stoke_City_FC.svg/200px-Stoke_City_FC.svg.png
Stoke City - Season 1 - May

Schedule
League - A - Man City
League - H - Swansea

Our final two games of the season would be our final one on the road and at home. The away match comes first against a 6th placed Man City side while we sign off the season in front of our home supporters against a Swansea team who are two places and 7 points behind us but with a game in hand. It was still possible that we could get relegated but it would take a major collapse and all results going five other teams way in order for that to happen. We were safe but I still wanted to end the season on a high where we could relax and parade the League Cup trophy for the supporters after the Swansea match.

Transfers
Are you ready for this? It's not pretty viewing but at the start of May, the club were £9,302,133 in debt! Shocking viewing but I am sure that the prize money for remaining in the Premiership as well as the TV revenue for next year would get us out of the red. That, along with a lot of player sales to cut down on the wage bill will hopefully give me more than the £475K available to spend on future stars.

Results
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior46fw_zps1ff7f876.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior47fw_zpsc0649268.png

Playing a team of Man City's quality, despite their 6th place in the league, was never going to be easy away from home and that proved to be the case with Sergio Aguero scoring after just one minute. But credit to the players for not throwing in the towel as they had every chance of going level again until James Milner made it 2-1 in the 71st minute. Our away record of 3 wins (but 7 draws) was something that we'd need to improve on for next season.

Safety was guaranteed with Fulham losing their game in hand so I now just wanted to sign off in style at home to Swansea. But a Rory Donnelly strike left us trailing early on in the game and the team didn't really pick up until Villyan Bijev came on but then Wilfried Bony doubled Swansea's lead. Gary Gardner did pull one back but my hopes of finishing with a win was dashed as the final whistle blew and we finished 13th in the league table. I think I can be happy with that though given our struggles at the start of the season and let's not forget that we won the League Cup too which will give us a taste of Europe next season too!

At the other end of the table, Arsenal were beaten to the title by arch rivals Tottenham by just one point! Which for me, makes our League Cup Semi-Final victory over them all the more impressive!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table10fw_zps945b689a.png

Development Squad
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve22fw_zps4b25e437.png
http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve23fw_zps023cddc8.png

With names like Stevan Jovetic, Costel Fane Pantilimon, Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell in the starting line-up, a 5-2 win for the development squad was a fantastic way to sign off their home season and I was particularly impressed by Valentin Hayoz, my 19 year old striker signed for £80K. If he could keep this up for the next 18 months, he and Villyan Bijev may well be our first choice strikers in the future! Unfortunately though, the youngsters couldn't sign off their season with a victory at Swansea as they lost 3-0 and Valentin Hayoz ruined his hard work against Man City by shoving Daniel Alfei to pick up a red card.

For a first season as a development squad, I've been very happy with their record over 23 games which has resulted in 9 wins, 4 draws and 10 defeats. Yes, they have lost more games than they have won but it's still a decent record for our first season and let's not forget that there has been a major lack of competition with only 14 players on the books by the time the season finished with Callum Bennett and Jordan Keane going out on loan and Villyan Bijev and Jack Butland being promoted to the first team squad. It's now my aim to get competition for every position and hopefully we will have a stronger season next year.

Loanees
Jordan Keane - 26 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 6.88.
Callum Bennett - 36 games, 1 assist, 6 MoM, 7.61.

Callum Bennett's time at Hinckley United has come to an end after five more games under his belt to take his match action to 36 games which I'm very happy about. He's played more than he would have done for the development team and got himself some experience even at non-league level and that FA Cup run will stay with him forever.

Jordan Keane, despite a positive start to his time at Accrington, failed to play the final 8 matches for them to bring his own loan spell to a sad end. But he still managed to play 26 times (3 more games than the development squad managed) and will come back having got his professional career going at a tougher level than Callum Bennett and of course, has a first goal in the Football League too!

First Team Statistics


No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8 Adam, Charlie 26 (3) 7 0 0 6 3 1 5 7.00
15 Alabi, James - - - - - - - - ----
19 Arnautovic, Marko 14 (6) 2 0 0 2 1 0 0 6.75
40 Bachmann, Daniel - - - - - - - - ----
1 Begovic, Asmir - - - - - - - - ----
33 Bennett, Callum 36 0 0 0 1 7 2 6 7.61
43 Bijev, Villyan 9 (3) 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.33
27 Butland, Jack - - - - - - - - ----
2 Cameron, Geoff 32 (2) 3 0 0 1 5 0 0 6.68
31 Campbell, James - - - - - - - - ----
9 Crouch, Peter 25 (5) 11 0 0 2 1 0 2 7.13
32 Dawson, Lucas 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
22 Edu, Maurice 29 (2) 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.42
11 Etherington, Matthew 29 (1) 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 6.70
42 Gardner, Gary 25 (2) 11 0 0 6 0 0 3 7.37
30 Glasgow, Ben - - - - - - - - ----
34 Gómez, Kevin - - - - - - - - ----
36 Grant, Alex - - - - - - - - ----
- Hayoz, Valentin - - - - - - - - ----
28 Heneghan, Ben 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
5 Huth, Robert 14 (2) 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 6.38
16 Jerome, Cameron 6 (5) 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.73
10 Jones, Kenwyne 7 (12) 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 7.00
29 Keane, Jordan 23 (3) 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 6.88
17 Kightly, Michael 2 (12) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.79
26 Muniesa, Marc 12 (3) 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6.53
24 N'Zonzi, Steven 24 (1) 0 0 0 0 9 1 0 7.32
25 Ness, Jamie 20 (2) 6 0 0 2 3 0 2 7.14
41 Ngoy, Julien - - - - - - - - ----
12 Palacios, Wilson 13 (6) 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 6.79
35 Parry, Manny - - - - - - - - ----
21 Pennant, Jermaine 27 (7) 4 0 0 8 1 0 0 6.94
20 Pieters, Erik 19 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 7.00
38 Richardson, Jordan - - - - - - - - ----
39 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
6 Shawcross, Ryan 30 (7) 1 0 0 2 6 0 1 6.86
14 Shea, Brek 17 (3) 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.85
23 Shotton, Ryan 19 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 6.79
13 Sörensen, Thomas 47 0 70 0 0 0 0 2 7.40
37 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
7 Walters, Jonathan 37 (5) 8 0 3 (3) 6 4 0 0 7.21
4 Whelan, Glenn 8 (7) 0 0 0 3 3 0 0 6.93
3 Wilkinson, Andy 20 (4) 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 6.67
18 Wilson, Marc 4 (6) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5.90

kuy
18-12-13, 02:51 PM
13th is pretty decent, there's a big gap up to West Ham in 12th though - will we see some wheeling and dealing from Henderson over the summer?

Mark
18-12-13, 03:33 PM
13th is pretty decent, there's a big gap up to West Ham in 12th though - will we see some wheeling and dealing from Henderson over the summer?

Hopefully! Need to get those big wage earners off the books and start to bring those youngsters through.

Mark
18-12-13, 04:43 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - Pre-Season

Aims and Objectives

Those of you who have been following my first year at Stoke City will be fully aware of the troubles that I have had financially at the club. By the time the season came to an end and the transfer window re-opened on the 1st June, the club was officially £7.5M in debt after a £2M windfall for finishing 13th in the league.

There were a lot of high wage earners on the books and my aim was to get the majority of them off and sold but for no less than their actual valuation. I may be desperate to cut down the wage bill to help the club stay in profit each month but I was not going to be taken for a fool when it came to offers for my players.

There were undoubtedly going to be some shocks for the fans as I started to work on this mammoth task but I hoped that they would look to my activity in the transfer market already and trust that I was going about this in the right way. Villyan Bijev had been my first signing and after 8 goals in 12 matches for the development squad, he went on to score 4 in the first team squad in 12 games. Gary Gardner was a far better success story though as he went straight into the first team squad and scored 11 goals in 27 matches and was already a favourite with the supporters. My last signing was still in the development squad though at the age of 19, Valentine Hayoz had scored 3 times in 9 appearances although only 3 of those were starts.

I was also aware that as was the case with Jack Butland this season who was promoted to the first team after turning 21 years of age, I had 13 players in the development squad who were 20 and would all be promoted themselves over the next year. That meant that I needed to start a recruitment drive for new talent to go into the development to take their places and also to increase competition in that particular squad. It was important to keep the circle going in terms of players being sold in the first team, being replaced by promoted development squad members and most importantly, find players to replace those promoted development players!

World Cup

There was also the World Cup taking place in Japan and South Korea where I was of course, keeping an eye out for any potential signings. The club were lucky enough to have 5 players called up for the competition as Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu were all selected for the USA while Glenn Wheland and Jonathan Walters were involved for the Republic of Ireland. I was disappointed though for Ryan Shawcross who didn't manage to break into the senior squad for England despite an impressive showing for the B team.

The USA trio all played as Cameron and Shea started in a 3-2 defeat to Portugal with Maurice Edu coming on from the bench. Ireland fared better in their opener as Cameroon were held to a 1-1 draw with both Walters and Whelan starting.

USA then recorded a 1-1 draw themselves against South Korea with all three of our players starting while both players for Ireland in a 1-0 defeat to Germany.

Break Shea was suspended for USA's last group game and Maurice Edu was an unused substitute as Geoff Cameron was the only player to play in a 1-1 draw against Poland which ended USA's involvement in the World Cup. Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters' campaign also came to an end after a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia.

So overall, a very disappointing World Cup from a Stoke perspective. Would we possibly have plenty of starts in the next one in four years time? I certainly hoped so!

Sold!

As outlined earlier, I had no intention of selling players for less than their worth and that certainly proved to be the case as managers came calling with offers for my players. After some negotiation, I managed to raise a total of £ for the following players:

Erik Pieters - Ajax - £4.1M.
Asmir Begovic - Olympiacos - £5M.
Marc Muniesa - Betis - £4.7M.
Charlie Adam - Newcastle - £5.25M.
Glenn Whelan - Brighton - £2M.
Ryan Shawcross - Liverpool - £8M.
Robert Huth - Hoffenheim - £3.9M.
Wilson Palacios - Hertha BSC - £1.9M.
Michael Kightly - Celtic - £2.8M.
Total Profit = £28.5M

After a season without playing a match, Begovic's valuation was extremely low but I knew he was worth more money when Olympiacos tabled £2.6M for his services. I drove a hard bargain and managed to get £5M for him and along with the fee for Erik Pieters, we were finally out of the red! With regards to Marc Muniesa, I hadn't actually intended to sell him but Betis came calling with an offer than was double his actual valuation and given our financial difficulties, I couldn't turn it down.

There was probably not so much surprise to see Huth (having revealed that he was leaving), Kightly and Palacios leave the club but there will no doubt be a surprise over Charlie Adam and especially Ryan Shawcross depart as two of our better players. Both are players on high wages and even though the other departures firmly took us out of debt by some way, I decided to accept the combined offers of £13.25M to really safeguard the club's future and leave me with plenty of money to invest in new players.

Signed!

The natural course of age meant that I could no longer show an interest in numerous of players that I had scouted over the past 10 months which saw the likes of Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela all taken off the shortlist. Not that players of that calibre may be wishing to join Stoke anyway! As a result, I started low in my search for fresh young faces for the development squad while those who joined and were 21 were instantly instated into the first team squad:

David Symington - MC - Carlisle - £30K - Named as 'Second Division Young Player of the Month' in December, Symington played 16 times for Carlisle, scoring once and setting up 3 goals. Carlisle were unfortunately relegated.
Tommy Toth - DRL - Bury - £30K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in May, Toth started 32 games as Bury were promoted to the Second Division via the playoff's.
Luke Young - AMC - Plymouth - £150K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in January, Young got 4 goals and 7 assists for Plymouth in 41 matches as they finished 19th in the league.
Jack Sampson - SC - Morecambe - £100K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in August and helped Morecambe finish 18th with 7 goals in 29 starts.
Jordan Pickford - GK - Sunderland - £140K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in April as he spent a season on loan at Burton Albion, starting 35 games as they were promoted to the Second Division via 2nd place.
Charles Banya - AMRL - Fulham - £300K - Caught my eye against our development squad as he was named Man of the Match in Fulham's 3-2 win, creating all three goals.
Josh Carson - AM/FC - York - £240K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in March and also named as York's Player of the Year after scoring 13 goals in 29 starts as York just avoided relegation. Carson has also been capped 4 times for Northern Ireland already.
Ryan Inniss - DC - Crystal Palace - £700K - Twice named as 'Premier Division Young Player of the Month' as Crystal Palace were relegated in a season in which Inniss played 22 games.
Charles Dunne - DL - Blackpool - £525K - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' during a season long loan spell at Wycombe for whom he made 28 appearances as they finished 20th in the Third Division.
Valentino Lazaro - AMC - Red Bull Salzburg - £2.6M - Caught my eye by scoring for Austria Under 21's whilst watching our very own Daniel Bachmann.
David Moberg Karlsson - SC - Sunderland - £1.2M - Scored against our development squad as Sunderland defeated us 3-2 last season at The Stadium of Light.
Anthony Watt - SC - Celtic - £800K - Scored last season for Scotland's U21 squad when I was watching Jamie Ness in action.
Adam Thompson - DRC - Watford - £1.2M - Named as 'Third Division Young Player of the Month' in September for Southend during a loan spell in which he played 18 times as Southend just missed out on a playoff place in 8th.
Ryan Tunnicliffe - MC - Man Utd - £1.8M - Named as 'First Division Young Player of the Month' in August for Ipswich during a loan spell in which he scored 6 and created 10 goals in 24 games to help Ipswich finish 18th in the First Division.

Almost £10M spent on bringing 14 players into the club having signed just three before then. I was reasonably happy with the signings though with the majority heading straight into the development squad. Six were put into the first team squad though with Adam Thompson, Charles Dunne. Ryan Tunnicliffe, Josh Carson, Luke Young and Jack Sampson being those players who will be involved in our forthcoming Premiership campaign.

Contracts

I had one eye on the contracts of several players which were due to expire at the end of the forthcoming season. As you'd expect, Kevin Gomez and Julien Ngoy were both committed to 5 and 4 year deals respectively.

There were a handful of first team players whose contracts were also due to expire at the end of the season and I'm pleased to have sold some of them such as Wilson Palacios instead of losing them for nothing. It is for that reason I ended up agreeing a new contract for Maurice Edu which in some ways is a good thing as we still have some experience within the first team squad which was starting to look very young indeed. The other two players out of contract at the end of the season who I have not yet offered a new deal in case I can still sell them are Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome.

Loanees

Last season, we only managed to get two players out on loan as Callum Bennett went to non-league Hinckley United and Jordan Keane managed to secure a loan to Third Division Accrington Stanley. This year, I was delighted to get five players out on loan before the season even kicked off:

James Campbell - D/MLC - Alfreton - Non-League.
Daniel Bachmann - GK - Alfreton - Non-League.
Kevin Gomez - DRL - Solihull - Non-League.
Manny Parry - Worcester City - Non-League.
Ben Glasgow - Worcester City - Non-League.

Obviously, it is a disappointment to see the five players loaned to teams in the non-leagues. Ideally, I would like to see my players testing themselves in the Football League but it was not to be and I am sure that they will all benefit from the experience anyway as Callum Bennett certainly did at Hinckley United last season.

Other News

70 year old Jan Ericsson, who I'd hired as a coach when arriving at Stoke, retired which led to the hiring of 60 year old Eric Steele who arrived from Derby for £525K.

Season 2 - First Team Squad

I had a nice round number of 25 players in my first team squad who will be participating in the Premiership as well as the UEFA Cup after we had qualified by right after winning the League Cup. These 25 players are:

Thomas Sorensen, Jack Butland.
Andy Wilkinson, Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, Marc Wilson, Ryan Shotton, Brek Shea, Charles Dunne, Adam Thompson.
Matthew Etherington, Jermaine Pennant, Jonathan Walters, Marko Arnautovic, Steven N'Zonzi, Jamie Ness, Gary Gardner, Josh Carson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Luke Young.
Peter Crouch, Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome, Villyan Bijev, Jack Sampson.

Season 2 - Development Squad

24 players were in our development squad which I was delighted with having had no few players to choose from last year in our development squad matches. These 24 (including those loaned out) are:

Daniel Bachmann, Jordan Pickford.
Callum Bennett, James Campbell, Ben Glasgow, Kevin Gomez, Alex Grant, Ben Heneghan, Ryan Inniss, Manny Parry, Tommy Toth.
Charles Banya, Lucas Dawson, Jordan Keane, Jordan Richardson, David Symington, James Alabi, Valentino Lazaro, Julien Ngoy.
David Moberg Karlsson, Karim Rossi, Adam Thomas, Anthony Watt, Valentin Hayoz.

Now I'm ready for the new season on both fronts!

Redknapp69
19-12-13, 04:32 AM
Great write ups mate!

I was worried when you lost the last 2 games but there were far worse teams in the league

Great selling figures there and good signings

Have you not tapped up Dinamo's 'wonderkids' yet? Nurishi/Kolar/Adjviaj/Bodic etc etc

You hot sone decent coaches in as well that have good youth training stats?

Get a good draw in UEFA will bring a few quid!

All the best for new season!

Mark
19-12-13, 11:38 AM
Great write ups mate!

I was worried when you lost the last 2 games but there were far worse teams in the league

Great selling figures there and good signings

Have you not tapped up Dinamo's 'wonderkids' yet? Nurishi/Kolar/Adjviaj/Bodic etc etc

You hot sone decent coaches in as well that have good youth training stats?

Get a good draw in UEFA will bring a few quid!

All the best for new season!

Cheers mate. Enjoyed doing that season but will try and write a different approach for this next season.

I always go for the best all round coaches in all 4 judging and coaching fields. Likewise with scouts and their judging stats.

I've just checked my shortlist and the only Dinamo player I have is Kruno Ivancic. I'm kind of taking a different approach to scouting, only adding players who have impressed against me at both senior or reserve level as well as anyone who I spot when checking on how my players have done internationally for the senior or u21 squad. It kind of makes me feel like I'm doing my own scouting that way and I also have all the scouts going all over the world too :)

Mark
19-12-13, 12:38 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - August

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/63/Leicester02.png/175px-Leicester02.png

Leicester City were promoted last season after winning the First Division with an impressive 105 points but suprisingly, Nigel Pearson was hired as England manager and was taken over by Lee Clark. He seems to have spent little in the transfer market, signing 6 players for a combined £3.8M including Connor Ripley of Middlesbrough, Russell Martin of Norwich and Joel Ekstrand of Watford as he clearly highlighted the defensive side of the squad as an area to strengthen.

Our Development Squad were up against Leicester first at the Britannia Stadium. As well as Callum Bennet and Jordan Keane starting following loan spells away from the club last year, there were 5 new faces in the starting eleven and all eyes were especially on 18 year old Valentino Lazaro who had cost the club a reported £2.6M. The team had dominated the game but somehow fell behind to a Anthony Knockaert strike. Despite the best efforts of MoM Valentin Hayoz, we were unable to win the game but did level right at the death with Lazaro driving a low shot into the net past Connor Ripley.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1-1fw_zpsf87dc3d9.png

For the senior squad, there were four new signings amongst the team as Charles Dunne, Adam Thompson, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Josh Carson were all handed starts with Jack Sampson named amongst the substitutes. An early goal from captain Marko Arnautovic was ruled out as we started the stronger side, keeping Kasper Schmeichel busy between the sticks. Leicester didn't have a shot to speak of until the 51st minute when an effort from Jeffrey Schlupp found its way past Thomas Sorensen. That goal suddenly lifted the crowd and the Leicester team as Sorensen then conceded a penalty, getting booked for clipping David Nugent in the area. Dean Hammond scored the resulting spot-kick. By way of response, Steven N'Zonzi managed to get on the scoresheet with his first goal for us but we just couldn't find an equaliser against a strong Leicester defence. The start of the season was marked with a disappointing defeat.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-1fw_zpsc869101d.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/8c/Norwich_City.svg/150px-Norwich_City.svg.png

After avoiding relegation, Chris Hughton was still manager at Norwich City but oddly chose not to strengthen his squad despite losing Mark Bunn, David Fox, Anthony Pilkington, Carlo Nash and Russell Martin. He did sign 6 players over the course of last season but none had established themselves in the first team yet and hadn't played in Norwich's 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.

As a midweek game, the Development Squad were not in action so Norwich came to the Britannia Stadium to take us on the first team in our first home game of the season. There were two changes to the team as poor performances from Marko Arnautovic and Peter Crouch led to their places being taken by Jermaine Pennant and Jack Sampson. The match followed a similar pattern to that at Leicester where the game was tied up until Robert Snodgress struck from afar to put Norwich in the lead. Any hope of making 'The Brit' a fortress this season was blown away already.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-2fw_zpsc51616b8.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/8b/West_Bromwich_Albion.svg/150px-West_Bromwich_Albion.svg.png

After leading West Brom to a 10th place finish last season, Steve Clarke was hired as Arsenal manager following the retirement of Arsene Wenger. That saw the out of work Mark Hughes appointed as Baggies boss but like myself, he has seen his side lose two games to West Ham and Aston Villa and were bottom of the table. The lack of goals is no surprise after four strikers (Nicolas Anelka, Shane Long, Joel Ambalu and Victor Anichebe) all left The Hawthorns and 18 year old Jake Eyre was the only man to come in to replace them.

The Development Squad were up first as Tommy Toth's injury saw a start for Ben Heneghan as Alex Grant moved to left back. There was also a start for David Symington, replacing Jordan Keane. The team found themselves behind early on and headed into the break 2-0 down. Valentin Hayoz did pull one back early on with his 8th(!) shot at goal and despite the best efforts of Valentino Lazaro, it was defeat for the youngsters.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1-2fw_zps3532027a.png

If there was ever a time to get the season going, it was now even if it was away from home. The opportunity to get a first win against a team who also hadn't won yet was too great to miss. To help us achieve that, Gary Gardner came in for Josh Carson while Geoff Cameron, Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington were all deemed unfit and replaced by Ryan Shotton, Brek Shea and Marko Arnautovic. As he had done so many times last season, Gardner made an immediate impact with the opening goal and Jack Sampson soon joined him with a well taken header. The home side then grew into the game but I'm pleased to say that the players dug in and got a most valuable win.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-3fw_zps39f3a593.png

August Review

I was rather disappointed with our start to the season and especially at failing to start off at home with a win. Leicester, Norwich and West Brom is a very good start to the season and against teams that we really should be beating. I can't complain too much about the performance against Leicester as we did all we can to win while we maybe should have got a draw against Norwich but the win at West Brom was certainly very good as we started brightly and got early goals that won us the game even though West Brom had us pegged back from that point onwards. It's a result that leaves us 14th in the table but at least we have now got a first win on board, especially away from home.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-1fw_zpsb8b80114.png

Valentino Lazaro (Austria U21 - 6), Anthony Watt (Scotland U21 - 8, 1 goal), David Moberg Karlsson (Sweden U21 - 8, 1 goal), Valentin Hayoz (Switzerland U21 - 8, 1 goal), Jack Butland (England U21 - 8), Ryan Tunnicliffe (England U21 - 7), Marko Arnautovic (Austria - 7), Jonathan Walters (Ireland - 7) and Villyan Bijev (Bulgaria - 7) were all in action as we had 9 players in action during the break and apart from Lazaro, they have all done very well for themselves especially our three development squad strikers who scored. Jack Butland also kept a clean sheet for England U21's as well. Long may it continue!

Transfers wise, there's no news for us as I have just one space in the squad which I'm saving for an emergency! I'm actually on the look out for a defensive midfielder who is 21 so he can come straight into the squad as I really only have Steven N'Zonzi in that position. Maurice Edu, Geoff Cameron and Marc Wilson can actually play in that role if necessary though.

As the month ended, all eyes were on the UEFA Cup 1st Round draw after we didn't even need to get through any qualifying matches. The fans were dreaming of visiting countries such as Hungary, Norway and Ukraine. Places that you wouldn't usually go on a holiday and could really enjoy the experience. They were left disappointed as we were drawn about as close as you could get to the UK and also a tough draw instead of landing someone like Otelul or Skotfoss who we'd have a reasonable chance of beating. Instead, it's a team from France... Lille!



* Note - Parry, Glasgow, Gomez, Campbell and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James - - - - - - - - ----
16 Arnautovic, Marko 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.50
44 Bachmann, Daniel 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 7.67
29 Banya, Charles - - - - - - - - ----
35 Bennett, Callum 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
24 Bijev, Villyan 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
13 Butland, Jack - - - - - - - - ----
2 Cameron, Geoff 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.50
33 Campbell, James 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.75
28 Carson, Josh 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
9 Crouch, Peter 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
34 Dawson, Lucas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
25 Dunne, Charles 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.00
11 Etherington, Matthew 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.50
17 Gardner, Gary 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 8.00
32 Glasgow, Ben 6 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 7.67
14 Gómez, Kevin 5 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 8.00
37 Grant, Alex - - - - - - - - ----
47 Hayoz, Valentin - - - - - - - - ----
30 Heneghan, Ben 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
5 Inniss, Ryan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
19 Jerome, Cameron 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
31 Keane, Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
48 Lazaro, Valentino 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 8.00
12 Ness, Jamie 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
49 Ngoy, Julien - - - - - - - - ----
36 Parry, Manny 7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.86
21 Pennant, Jermaine 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
41 Pickford, Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
40 Richardson, Jordan - - - - - - - - ----
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 2 (1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.33
20 Shea, Brek 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
18 Shotton, Ryan 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
1 Sörensen, Thomas 3 0 3 0 0 1 0 1 8.00
38 Symington, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
39 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
23 Thompson, Adam 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 7.67
45 Toth, Tommy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.33
7 Walters, Jonathan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
6 Wilson, Marc 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
26 Young, Luke 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----

BobMem
19-12-13, 03:05 PM
Tough draw in the UEFA cup. After a tricky start is your squad starting to gel now? I expect a string of wins next month!

Well done on all those transfers, a busy close season summarised in just a couple of paragraphs!

KUTGW!

Mark
19-12-13, 06:03 PM
I'm not so sure. We have a bad month as we have to play Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal all in one month as well as the 2 legged UEFA matches!

Mark
19-12-13, 06:11 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - September

Player Watch

Ben Nugent (Cardiff), Jonathan Williams (Crystal Palace), Kgosi Ntlhe (Peterborough) and Tom Nichols (Exeter) were all noted after winning 'Young Player of the Month' awards for their respective leagues.

International Fixtures

Valentino Lazaro - Started for Austria's U21's and scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Denmark before being withdrawn on the 78th minute. Kenneth Zohore (Fiorentina) scored the opening goal for Denmark.
Valentin Hayoz - Played the full 90 minutes for Switzerland U21's and scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan. Named as Man of the Match as he made it 4 goals in 4 matches in all games so far this season.
Josh Carson - Started in midfield for Northern Ireland U21's in a 3-0 win over Armenia. The goals came from Matthew Kennedy (Everton), Liam McAlinden (Wolves) and Shay McCartan (Millwall) as Carson played the entire match.
Anthony Watt - Scored again for Scotland U21's in a 2-1 win over Lithuania. Ryan Gauld (Nottm Forest) added to Watt's opener before Vykintas Slivka (Ekranas) pulled one back for Lithuania.

Marko Arnautovic - 36th cap for Austria in a 1-0 defeat to Denmark. Came on as a 54th minute substitute with Andreas Cornelius (Cardiff) scoring for the Danes.
Jonathan Walters - 32nd cap for Ireland in a respectable 1-1 draw against Holland. Started on the right flank and played the full 90 minutes.
Villyan Bijev - 6th cap for Bulgaria in a 3-0 defeat to Ukraine. Largely disappointed before being subbed on the 86th minute.
Adam Thompson - 3rd cap for Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw against Armenia. Came on as a 59th minute substitute as Armenia equalised in extra time.

Academy Results

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1-3fw_zps82f1707e.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1-4fw_zps1a3f03ff.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/reserve1-5fw_zps23a3568f.png

Premiership Results

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-4fw_zpsdcd41ef5.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-6fw_zpsa7391f46.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-7fw_zps53253070.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-9fw_zps055c1963.png

I don't think we'll have such a tough run of games all season! To play 4 of the best teams in the league in one month is some tough run to cope with and perhaps unsurprisingly, we failed to record a single point from all four matches.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-2fw_zps6fd93e5d.png

UEFA Cup Results

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-5fw_zpsd2147ff7.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-8fw_zps22cf9bde.png

Well, that was a disappointment! The good work in winning the first leg was completely undone despite taking a lead at Lille to make it 3-0 on aggregate. After Arnautovic scored, it all just fell apart and every shot seemed to go into our net.

Promoted Players

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/banyafw_zps3a8ca8b4.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/heneghanfw_zps05a0bf8f.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/keanefw_zps4212c7f3.png

Three players have now 'come of age' and have been promoted to the first team squad. We need the extra body in defence but Ben Heneghan perhaps isn't the answer in the long term. The same may apply to Jordan Keane but I look forwards to seeing what Charles Banya can do.

League Cup Draw

We'll be starting the defence of our League Cup trophy next month and we were given the worst possible draw for the Third Round away from home - Arsenal!

Squad Statistics



* Note - Parry, Glasgow, Gomez, Campbell and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James - - - - - - - - ----
16 Arnautovic, Marko 4 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.67
44 Bachmann, Daniel 7 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 7.71
29 Banya, Charles - - - - - - - - ----
35 Bennett, Callum 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
24 Bijev, Villyan 0 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.50
13 Butland, Jack 5 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 7.20
2 Cameron, Geoff 8 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.75
33 Campbell, James 8 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.88
28 Carson, Josh 3 (1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.25
9 Crouch, Peter 2 (1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
34 Dawson, Lucas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
25 Dunne, Charles 7 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.29
22 Edu, Maurice 8 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 7.00
11 Etherington, Matthew 8 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.63
17 Gardner, Gary 5 (1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.83
32 Glasgow, Ben 11 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 7.82
14 Gómez, Kevin 9 2 0 0 0 3 0 2 8.11
37 Grant, Alex - - - - - - - - ----
47 Hayoz, Valentin - - - - - - - - ----
30 Heneghan, Ben 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
5 Inniss, Ryan 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.00
19 Jerome, Cameron 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
31 Keane, Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
48 Lazaro, Valentino 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 5 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 7.80
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.50
49 Ngoy, Julien - - - - - - - - ----
36 Parry, Manny 12 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 7.92
21 Pennant, Jermaine 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
41 Pickford, Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
40 Richardson, Jordan - - - - - - - - ----
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 3 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
18 Shotton, Ryan 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.33
1 Sörensen, Thomas 4 0 6 0 0 1 0 1 7.50
38 Symington, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
39 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
23 Thompson, Adam 6 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 7.17
45 Toth, Tommy 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 8 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.88
7 Walters, Jonathan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
6 Wilson, Marc 4 (1) 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.20
26 Young, Luke 2 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75

ebfatz
19-12-13, 09:16 PM
That'll be ebfatz who will no doubt claim it was his idea that saved Stoke's season :lol:


Was a couple of months behind on updates but I do indeed claim full responsibility for saving your season, keeping you in the Premier League, giving the team confidence going into the cup final and spotting a young talent being wasted in the development squad! :lol:

Well Done on the Cup win! Build on that though and be brave!
No good having U21's if they are stuck playing in the ressies. Don't wait until they are 21 to promote them. How many games did the Class of '92 have under their belts by the time they were 21?!

Give Butland the gloves!! Sorensen's had it! And you clearly don't rate Begovic or he would have played over the old man this season.

"If you're good enough, you're old enough."

ZanSnake
21-12-13, 06:32 AM
OMG! Torres and Jerome scoring?

I call hacks!

Mark
02-01-14, 03:37 PM
Was a couple of months behind on updates but I do indeed claim full responsibility for saving your season, keeping you in the Premier League, giving the team confidence going into the cup final and spotting a young talent being wasted in the development squad! :lol:

Well Done on the Cup win! Build on that though and be brave!
No good having U21's if they are stuck playing in the ressies. Don't wait until they are 21 to promote them. How many games did the Class of '92 have under their belts by the time they were 21?!

Give Butland the gloves!! Sorensen's had it! And you clearly don't rate Begovic or he would have played over the old man this season.

"If you're good enough, you're old enough."

:lol: Knew you would take the credit :D

I have to admit I have been thinking along the same lines lately given that horror run of games in the league. The development squad may well be abandoned and everyone handed a chance from the start!


OMG! Torres and Jerome scoring?

I call hacks!

But Torres scored yesterday and Jerome.... Well, Jerome missed a sitter again :D

Mark
02-01-14, 04:11 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - October

Schedule

H - Southampton - Premier Division
A - Cardiff - Premier Division
H - Fulham - Premier Division
H - Aston Villa - Premier Division
A - Arsenal - League Cup 3rd Round

After facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool in consecutive league matches, the fixture list looks a lot kinder this month and I have to be aiming for at least 9 points from the 12 that are on offer, especially if we want to get our season going.

Transfers

Out
Jonathan Walters - Reading - £2.2M
Alex Grant - Witton - Loan

Although he made an appearance from the bench this month, Witton took Alex Grant on loan for the remainder of the season and I hope the 20 year old Australian will benefit from the experience.

£2.2M for Jonathan Walters meanwhile was an offer gratefully accepted from Reading. Walters hadn't played this season so far despite 42 appearances last season and for a 31 year old, I thought the offer was good value indeed.

Results

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-10fw_zpse0a33b3f.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-11fw_zps7344aef3.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-12fw_zps195585d4.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-13fw_zpsc046e0d1.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-14fw_zps3304d1d5.png

We faced up against Southampton just a few days after a 3-0 beating by Liverpool and found ourselves beaten by the same scoreline. It truly wasn't a fair reflection on the game though as I selected Jack Butland, Charles Dunne, Ben Heneghan, Charles Banya, Jordan Keane, Luke Young and Villyan Bijev as youngsters with Heneghan surprisingly our best man on the pitch. I then gambled in my next team selection, handing starts to James Alabi and Jordan Pickford in a very inexperienced looking team at Cardiff where Pickford was the hero as he saved a penalty from Steed Malbranque before Josh Carson struck the winner. Finally we had ended a run of 5 games without victory!

We then pulled off a comeback against Fulham with Valentin Hayoz scoring on his debut after coming off the bench before following it up with a fine 2-0 win over Aston Villa thanks to goals from Peter Crouch and Charles Banya (his first for the club).

Our defence of the League Cup that we'd won last year began with an away trip at Arsenal which is about as bad as it could have got for us! 8 minutes into the game, it wasn't helped either by an injury to Marc Wilson which left us with no recognisable left-back. So as expected, we were beaten 2-0 to be dumped out straight away but I think you'll struggle to find a single fan who wasn't too bothered given our current league predicament!

League Table

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-3fw_zps50f55752.png

Two wins, a draw and a defeat has done enough to help us break out of the bottom three as we move up two places and four points clear of Brighton. With no League Cup or UEFA Cup runs to distract us, I'm hopeful of building upon our recent form and start aiming for a midtable finish.

Player of the Month

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/pickfordfw_zps8d3123ae.png

Since the first team and development squads were merged, Jordan Pickford was handed his debut at Cardiff where a penalty save contributed to an excellent 1-0 win and while he will be disappointed to concede against Fulham in a game where he didn't have a lot to do, he then followed it up with an impressive performance against Aston Villa which earned him a Man of the Match award that highlighted him as our player of the month. With Jack Butland and Thomas Sorensen as his rivals for the gloves, he'll need to keep on top form to keep Butland in particular at bay.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Grant, Parry, Glasgow, Gomez, Campbell and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.25
16 Arnautovic, Marko 5 (2) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.57
44 Bachmann, Daniel 11 0 7 0 0 0 0 0 7.73
29 Banya, Charles 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
35 Bennett, Callum 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 6 0 13 0 0 0 0 0 7.17
2 Cameron, Geoff 10 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.70
33 Campbell, James 12 4 0 0 1 0 0 1 7.92
28 Carson, Josh 7 (1) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.13
9 Crouch, Peter 5 (1) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.33
34 Dawson, Lucas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
- Drennan, Mikey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 13 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 6.92
11 Etherington, Matthew 8 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.63
17 Gardner, Gary 5 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.86
32 Glasgow, Ben 17 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 7.82
14 Gómez, Kevin 14 3 0 0 0 6 0 2 7.93
37 Grant, Alex 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
47 Hayoz, Valentin 0 (3) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7.00
30 Heneghan, Ben 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
5 Inniss, Ryan 5 (1) 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.83
19 Jerome, Cameron 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 8 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 7.38
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.50
49 Ngoy, Julien - - - - - - - - ----
36 Parry, Manny 18 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 7.83
21 Pennant, Jermaine 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.71
41 Pickford, Jordan 4 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 7.75
40 Richardson, Jordan 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 3 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
18 Shotton, Ryan 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.33
1 Sörensen, Thomas 4 0 6 0 0 1 0 1 7.50
38 Symington, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
39 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
23 Thompson, Adam 8 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 7.00
45 Toth, Tommy 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 8 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.78
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 2 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.25
6 Wilson, Marc 8 (1) 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.22
26 Young, Luke 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60

kuy
02-01-14, 06:12 PM
Interesting to see how it goes with the squads merged...

Redknapp69
03-01-14, 02:38 AM
Decent month mate and very promising start from the young GK

Couple of the loan boys look like they are on fire as well!

Mark
03-01-14, 10:49 AM
Interesting to see how it goes with the squads merged...

Had to be done, I think. Some of the players were playing superbly in the reserves (see Hayoz for one) and the first team players weren't performing. Ideally, I'd have liked to stick to my plans from the off but our form was that bad, I had to do something.


Decent month mate and very promising start from the young GK

Couple of the loan boys look like they are on fire as well!

The only issue I see with those boys is that they're playing at non-league level. Would love to get the players out to the football league teams but I only seem to get offers from non-league sides.

Mark
03-01-14, 11:26 AM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - November

Schedule

A - West Ham - Premier Division
H - Newcastle - Premier Division
A - Everton - Premier Division
H - Tottenham - Premier Division
A - Brighton - Premier Division

Do not be fooled by the lack of big name teams in the fixture list for this month for this will be a very tough run of games for my inexperienced squad. With the exception of Brighton, all teams are above us in the league table and I never take anything for granted. If we could just continue the salvage operation that we started last month and perhaps extend our unbeaten three game record, I would be more than happy!

Transfers

In
Mikey Drennan - Aston Villa - £5.25M.

Mikey Drennan is a player who caught my eye quite some time ago at Aston Villa and I am delighted to bring him into the club. He offers a bit of versatility being able to play on the left flank as well as in the middle and up front. With Marko Arnautovic not quite consistent enough and Matthew Etherington ageing like there's no tomorrow, he will hopefully be a key player for us and will challenge Charles Banya and James Alabi on the left flank as well with Brek Shea seen as more of a left-back for me. The transfer fee for Drennan is a record buy for me by some way having previently spent £2.6M on Valentino Lazaro but at 21 years of age and 8 caps for Ireland, Drennan looks an established player already.

Out
Lucas Dawson - Gloucester - Loan.
Jordan Richardson - Ebbsfleet United - Loan.

Gloucester came knocking on the door for Lucas Dawson and I was happy to let him go out on loan for the first time in his career. The 20 year old centre-midfielder only has one game to his name but has yet to feature last year. His exit made it 7 loanees that we had sent out this season.

Results

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-15fw_zps3e0bc14e.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-16fw_zpsc283c2d6.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-17fw_zpsc38292f5.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-18fw_zps199706c4.png

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-19fw_zps37e363d5.png

I couldn't believe it, Jordan Pickford was at it again as he saved a second penalty in just his 5th game for Stoke against West Ham. The hosts had thought they'd found an equaliser when Mark Noble stepped up but it wasn't to be as Pickford denied him and Gary Gardner went on to make it a fine 2-0 win. Unfortunately, Pickford went on to concede twice in 3 minutes against Newcastle as we lost despite Charles Banya handing us a first half lead. It was disappointing to lose at home and we fared no better at Everton in a 1-0 defeat. We were then piss poor at home against Tottenham which left me desperate for a win at Brighton to end the month with a win. Unfortunately, an early Steve Morison goal gave Brighton the lead and despite David Symington marking his first goal with the equaliser, Jozsef Varga condemned us to a 4th successive defeat which saw Brighton overtake us and push us into the bottom three in the process.

League Table

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-4fw_zpse917ec1b.png

The impressive win at West Ham took us up to 16th in the table amid hopes of climbing up to mid-table but four successive defeats has seen us drop right back into the relegation zone. To make things worse, Brighton beating us took them above us in the table in a game that we really did need to win.

Player of the Month

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/pickford1fw_zps7e97ebd3.png

It probably says a lot about the general performances of the squad when the same player is named as 'Player of the Month' for a second month running but then again, Jordan Pickford has done incredibly well since coming into the team. How many 20 year old goalkeepers make a penalty save on their debuts and then save another penalty on their 5th appearance? At least that particular position in the squad looks strong with Thomas Sorensen not even making the bench lately.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Richardson, Dawson, Grant, Parry, Glasgow, Gomez, Campbell and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
16 Arnautovic, Marko 8 (2) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.60
44 Bachmann, Daniel 15 0 14 0 0 0 0 0 7.60
29 Banya, Charles 7 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.86
35 Bennett, Callum 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 6 0 13 0 0 0 0 0 7.17
2 Cameron, Geoff 12 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.50
33 Campbell, James 17 5 0 0 1 0 0 1 7.88
28 Carson, Josh 9 (2) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.09
9 Crouch, Peter 5 (3) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.13
34 Dawson, Lucas 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.33
7 Drennan, Mikey 1 (2) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.33
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 16 0 0 0 0 6 0 0 6.69
11 Etherington, Matthew 9 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.67
17 Gardner, Gary 6 (3) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.89
32 Glasgow, Ben 23 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 7.83
14 Gómez, Kevin 18 3 0 0 0 6 0 2 7.89
37 Grant, Alex 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 8.00
47 Hayoz, Valentin 0 (4) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7.00
30 Heneghan, Ben 3 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.50
5 Inniss, Ryan 9 (1) 0 0 0 1 5 0 1 6.90
19 Jerome, Cameron 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.17
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 13 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 7.31
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.50
49 Ngoy, Julien - - - - - - - - ----
36 Parry, Manny 24 1 0 0 1 3 1 1 7.83
21 Pennant, Jermaine 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.71
41 Pickford, Jordan 9 0 11 0 0 0 0 1 7.67
40 Richardson, Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 5 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.13
18 Shotton, Ryan 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.33
1 Sörensen, Thomas 4 0 6 0 0 1 0 1 7.50
38 Symington, David 1 (1) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.50
39 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
23 Thompson, Adam 13 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.77
45 Toth, Tommy 0 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 12 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.77
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 9 (2) 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.27
26 Young, Luke 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60

BobMem
03-01-14, 02:52 PM
Poor run of form heading in to the Brighton game really cost you. That new fellah is a bad omen, you haven't won a match that he's played in!

Mark
06-01-14, 02:20 PM
Poor run of form heading in to the Brighton game really cost you. That new fellah is a bad omen, you haven't won a match that he's played in!

Drennan? He's definitely had the opposite effect since I signed him! He does have an assist to his name in the three games he's played so far. The blame lies with a poorly performing defence really.

Mark
06-01-14, 02:54 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - December

Schedule

H - Man Utd - Premier Division
A - Norwich - Premier Division
H - West Brom - Premier Division
H - Swansea - Premier Division

After being knocked out of the League Cup and UEFA Cup, we have a relatively easy-going December with just four matches to play although the first game is a big match against Man Utd. If we could just navigate our way through that and an away trip to Norwich, we signed off the year with two home matches and wins are now absolutely vital!

Transfers

In
Andreas Cornelius - Cardiff - £5.75M.

After breaking my transfer record by signing Mikey Drennan from Aston Villa last month, I've now broke it again with a £5.75M transfer of striker Andreas Cornelius from Cardiff City. This was a far more established signing for a striker who has been capped 19 times for Denmark and scored 10 goals already. His first season at Cardiff last year resulted in 14 goals in 32 appearances which I was impressed with and despite failing to score in just 3 games this season, I've elected to snap him up and add him to an ever increasing collection of strikers which now reads 11 (oops!). It's a transfer that also takes my squad up to 50 players so I am now unable to add any new faces to the squad unless those transfer listed (Sorensen, Wilkinson, Wilson, Edu, Shea, Cameron, Shotton, Ness, Ethington, Arnautovic, N'Zonzi, Pennant, Jones, Jerome and Crouch) are moved on.

Out
Julien Ngoy - Gloucester - Loan.

17 year old right winger Julien Ngoy became the 9th player to be loaned out with Gloucester taking him on for the rest of the season after Lucas Dawson had been recalled from there.

Results

Due to turning 21 years of age, I recalled James Campbell (5 goals, 1 assist, 1 MoM in 17 apps at Alfreton), Ben Glasgow (23 apps at Worcester City) and Lucas Dawson (1 assist in 3 apps at Gloucester) and all three were thrust immediately into the first team squad with Campbell and Glasgow making their debuts at full-back while Dawson played only his 2nd league game for the club. Man Utd, top of the league, dominated from the start and were 3 goals to the good by the time Josh Carson scored his 3rd goal of the season. Despite losing to a team of Man Utd's quality, the board and fans were unhappy after the match as the knives were starting to make an appearance.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-20fw_zps1ee3a784.png

The reaction to the Man Utd defeat showed that there was little patience in getting the team right at the moment which put a bit of pressure on me away at Norwich who took an early lead. Fortunately, that woke the players up and Marko Arnautovic equalised before half-time and we completed a great comeback with a Cameron Jerome strike in the second. However, it was reinstated goalkeeper Jack Butland who took the plaudits after a good show of goalkeeping. The win ended a run of 5 defeats on the trot!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-21fw_zps61f95ebd.png

It was at West Brom where we recorded our first win of the season at the 3rd time of trying at on home turf, I hoped to complete the double over them with an unchanged side. Cameron Jerome found the net again but unbelievably, we collapsed in the second half as goals from George Thorne and Max Sullivan (both aged 21 and under, by the way!) won them the game and regretfully, saw us overtaken by West Brom in the league.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-22fw_zps1b923ec1.png

Playing Swansea City is never an easy task due to the way they set up under Michael Laudrup and to make the task even tougher, I made mass changes to the team due to playing West Brom two days earlier on a Thursday(!). With only Jack Butland and Ryan Innis keeping their spots, it was a great opportunity for the likes of Mikey Drennan, Charles Banya and Valentino Lazaro to nail a place in the team with the latter being handed his debut after arriving for £2.6M in the Summer. Mikey Drennan bagged his first goal for us but just as against West Brom, we couldn't build on the lead and saw Haris Vuckic (a one-time target for me) equalise. Then came the moment that did change the game as Hamdan Al Kamali timed his challenge on Drennan horribly wrong and saw a red card and a penalty awarded against him. David Symington stepped up to calmly score his 2nd goal in 3 games and Charles Banya made it 3-1 by half-time. Despite the 10 men, Swansea were still very much in the game but we did enough to see it out.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-23fw_zpsc2840371.png

League Table

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-5fw_zps05e0f078.png

The impressive win at West Ham took us up to 16th in the table amid hopes of climbing up to mid-table but four successive defeats has seen us drop right back into the relegation zone. To make things worse, Brighton beating us took them above us in the table in a game that we really did need to win.

Player of the Month

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/butlandfw_zps7d36f4b8.png

Goalkeepers are the best! We may be struggling for form but one position that isn't is our goalkeepers with Jack Butland named as Player of the Month after Jordan Pickford had picked it up in the past two months. Pickford hadn't done a lot wrong but after struggling at Brighton in a 2-1 defeat, he'd conceded three at Man Utd which saw Butland back in the team and helping the club to get back to winning ways against Norwich and Swansea despite a defeat to West Brom sandwiched in between.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Richardson, Ngoy, Grant, Parry, Gomez and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.80
16 Arnautovic, Marko 11 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.54
44 Bachmann, Daniel 20 0 20 0 0 0 0 1 7.60
29 Banya, Charles 8 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 7.00
35 Bennett, Callum 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 9 0 17 0 0 0 0 1 7.44
2 Cameron, Geoff 12 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.50
33 Campbell, James 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.67
28 Carson, Josh 12 (2) 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 6 (4) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.10
34 Dawson, Lucas 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.67
7 Drennan, Mikey 2 (2) 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.75
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 18 0 0 0 1 6 0 0 6.67
11 Etherington, Matthew 9 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.67
17 Gardner, Gary 6 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.67
32 Glasgow, Ben 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5.67
14 Gómez, Kevin 21 3 0 0 0 7 0 3 7.90
37 Grant, Alex 8 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 8.00
47 Hayoz, Valentin 0 (4) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7.00
30 Heneghan, Ben 4 (4) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.38
5 Inniss, Ryan 13 (1) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.93
19 Jerome, Cameron 9 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.56
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7.00
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 16 1 0 0 1 4 0 1 7.25
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.50
49 Ngoy, Julien 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 8.00
36 Parry, Manny 28 1 0 0 1 3 1 1 7.82
21 Pennant, Jermaine 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.71
41 Pickford, Jordan 10 0 14 0 0 0 0 1 7.60
40 Richardson, Jordan 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.60
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 6 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.22
18 Shotton, Ryan 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.33
1 Sörensen, Thomas 4 0 6 0 0 1 0 1 7.50
38 Symington, David 2 (1) 2 0 1 (1) 0 1 0 0 7.33
39 Thomas, Adam - - - - - - - - ----
23 Thompson, Adam 15 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.60
45 Toth, Tommy 0 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 12 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.77
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.17
6 Wilson, Marc 10 (2) 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.33
26 Young, Luke 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60

kuy
06-01-14, 04:10 PM
13 points from five games in December, Cardiff are on one hell of a run of form! Losing Cornelius clearly didn't affect them too badly!

Kingsley
06-01-14, 04:38 PM
Just caught up and I suspect that the league cup win has bought you some time. Can't see that lasting for long if results don't improve. Lets hope for a luckier draw in the FA Cup than you got in the League Cup.

I'm surprised that no-one has come in for some of the transfer listed players. You do need to shift them on with some urgency. That squad of 50 must be costing you wages.

Mark
06-01-14, 05:02 PM
13 points from five games in December, Cardiff are on one hell of a run of form! Losing Cornelius clearly didn't affect them too badly!

If only it was ourselves picking up 13 points!


Just caught up and I suspect that the league cup win has bought you some time. Can't see that lasting for long if results don't improve. Lets hope for a luckier draw in the FA Cup than you got in the League Cup.

I'm surprised that no-one has come in for some of the transfer listed players. You do need to shift them on with some urgency. That squad of 50 must be costing you wages.

There are always teams showing an interest in Edu, Sorensen, Etherington and Cameron but rather frustratingly, no bids at all :(

Redknapp69
07-01-14, 03:04 AM
6 points a decent return there mate but you do need to pick up the home pints when you can

Not sure how I feel about you beating Swansea! :lol:

You not tempted to buy some of the wonder kids in the game? You could have had a few of them for the price you paid for Corneilius!

Mark
07-01-14, 10:34 AM
6 points a decent return there mate but you do need to pick up the home pints when you can

Not sure how I feel about you beating Swansea! :lol:

You not tempted to buy some of the wonder kids in the game? You could have had a few of them for the price you paid for Corneilius!

I have no room in my squad now :D My last two signings have just been players willing to come to us who are decent enough. I'm trying to get players who can make an impact at this level straight away, there's too many that I've bought from the lower leagues that may not fulfil their potential.

Mark
07-01-14, 05:33 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - January

Schedule

H - Leicester - Premier Division
A - Doncaster - FA Cup 3rd Round
A - QPR - Premier Division
H - Arsenal - Premier Division
A - Liverpool - Premier Division

After a half decent month in December which has seen us rise to 15th in the table, I hope we can muster a good run of form against Leicester and QPR before we take on two of the giants of the league in Arsenal and Liverpool. Progress in the FA Cup would be beneficial although not desirable!

Transfers

In
N/A

Out
N/A

Results

Although we recorded a good 3-1 win over Swansea in our last match, I made 6 changes to the team for the visit of Leicester on New Year's Day. They had recorded a shock win over us on the opening day of the season at the King Power Stadium and I was desperate for revenge. But just as they had done so in that last game, Leicester sat back and let us dictate the game before delivering not one but two sucker punches in both halves with 21 year old Tom Hopper scoring both goals. I was livid.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-24fw_zpsbb49d840.png

Facing Doncaster away in the FA Cup was perhaps a welcome distraction from the worries of the Premier League. Ordinarily, I would select my strongest side available but rather unprecedentedly, I selected a completely different side which saw a first start for Tommy Toth and a debut for Adam Thomas up front. Doncaster were struggling in the First Division, being a point away from the bottom three but they had the better of us in the first half although it ended goalless. An injury to Gary Gardner was a blow and we were indebted to replacement Brek Shea for scoring what we thought would be a winning goal until the 35 year old Jason Koumas popped up with a late, late equaliser.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-25fw_zps24e61b1b.png

Thomas Sorensen, Geoff Cameron, Ryan Shotton and the substitutes were the only players to do well at Doncaster but my decision to name a fringe lineup had backfired as the majority failed to make the most of their chance. That saw mass changes once again for the FA Cup Replay although Sorensen, Cameron and Brek Shea started. This time, we looked a better team with Mikey Drennan getting a second goal for the club and David Symington also missing a penalty as we progressed to the 4th Round.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-26fw_zpsfd157db9.png

Back in the league, we had a tough game at home to Arsenal who were 4th in the table and had lost 7 games already. That was encouraging of sorts for me as I made two changes with David Symington and Charles Banya making way for James Campbell and Jermaine Pennant in midfield. The changes saw a first ever goal for Stoke by Campbell and Pennant himself scored from the penalty spot after Ashley Cole had knocked down Josh Carson inside the penalty area. A fantastic win!

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-27fw_zps36868530.png

After playing for Alfreton Town in the FA Cup, James Campbell was ineligible for the FA Cup match at Wigan while despite his goal, I brought Charles Banya back into the side for Jermaine Pennant after resting the 21 year old winger for the Arsenal game. After my gamble in the initial game against Doncaster, I had no intention of playing another replay so it was a strong team that began the game at the DW Stadium. But it didn't seem that way as James McArthur and Shaun Maloney both put Wigan two goals ahead by the 24th minute but a spirited comeback with goals from Mikey Drennan and Cameron Jerome saw us tie the game by half time. But again, we started slow and after Maloney had scored again, Thomas Sorensen was sent off and Ben Watson had no trouble scoring the resulting penalty.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-28fw_zps2c7ca9c8.png

Losing to a First Division team (who are top of their league by the way) was inevitably going to result in changes again and that saw Jack Butland, James Campbell, Ben Glasgow, Marc Wilson and Lucas Dawson start at QPR who were level on points with us. Lucas Dawson had scored 8 goals in 16 games for the development squad last year and I was delighted to see him score his first professional goal for us as we took an early lead. QPR were very much still in the game though and Garry Morley, a 19 year old defender, equalised for the hosts just before half-time. Geoff Cameron and Ryan Inniss were struggling in defence and Tomas Ramonas put QPR ahead in the 2nd half before Charles Banya thankfully found the equaliser to ensure we went home with a point.

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/senior1-29fw_zps1603450c.png

League Table

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/table1-6fw_zps8ae3a090.png

With a win, a draw and a defeat in January, we end the month in a worst off position compared to last month, dropping down two places to just outside the bottom three. We do have a three point advantage over Cardiff and a game in hand on all those around us which we simply HAVE to use to our advantage!

Player of the Month

http://i447.photobucket.com/albums/qq197/markhendo1986/kids/drennanfw_zps1ad380d4.png

After a slow start, I'm pleased to say that Mikey Drennan has been our Player of the Month and the first outfield player to do so after Jordan Pickford (twice) and Jack Butland won the previous awards. Drennan played the full 90 minutes in the disappointing defeat to Leicester but returned in a central midfield role against Rochdale in the FA Cup replay, scoring the winning goal. He then followed it up with another good performance against Arsenal although he was not involved in either goals. He found the net again in the FA Cup defeat at Wigan before playing his part at QPR where he set up the equaliser for Charles Banya.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Richardson, Ngoy, Grant, Parry, Gomez and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 14 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.79
16 Arnautovic, Marko 12 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
44 Bachmann, Daniel 24 0 23 0 0 0 0 2 7.67
29 Banya, Charles 12 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 7.00
35 Bennett, Callum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 11 (1) 0 22 0 0 0 0 2 7.42
2 Cameron, Geoff 17 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.47
33 Campbell, James 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.67
28 Carson, Josh 13 (5) 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.94
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 7 (4) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.09
34 Dawson, Lucas 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.80
7 Drennan, Mikey 7 (2) 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 7.22
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 22 0 0 0 1 7 0 0 6.68
11 Etherington, Matthew 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.60
17 Gardner, Gary 7 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.62
32 Glasgow, Ben 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.00
14 Gómez, Kevin 26 3 0 0 0 8 0 4 7.92
37 Grant, Alex 13 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 8.08
47 Hayoz, Valentin 0 (4) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7.00
30 Heneghan, Ben 5 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
5 Inniss, Ryan 18 (1) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.84
19 Jerome, Cameron 13 (1) 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.71
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 1 (1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.50
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 20 1 0 0 1 5 0 2 7.30
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
49 Ngoy, Julien 6 5 0 0 3 0 0 1 8.17
36 Parry, Manny 30 1 0 0 1 3 1 1 7.80
21 Pennant, Jermaine 8 1 0 1 (1) 1 0 0 0 6.75
41 Pickford, Jordan 10 0 14 0 0 0 0 1 7.60
40 Richardson, Jordan 9 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 7.56
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 9 (4) 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.46
18 Shotton, Ryan 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.50
1 Sörensen, Thomas 8 0 10 0 0 1 1 1 7.13
38 Symington, David 4 (1) 2 0 2 (1) 0 1 0 0 6.60
39 Thomas, Adam 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
23 Thompson, Adam 16 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.50
45 Toth, Tommy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 12 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.77
15 Watt, Anthony 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 11 (2) 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 6.46
26 Young, Luke 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60

Mark
08-01-14, 01:09 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - February

Schedule

A - Southampton - Premier Division
H - Man City - Premier Division
A - Fulham - Premier Division
A - Liverpool - Premier Division
H - Cardiff - Premier Division

The three games in the FA Cup last month forced a couple of our Premier League games to be postponed and played in February instead where we have five games to play including tough games against Man City and Liverpool. Beating Arsenal at home last month showed that we can spring a shock on our day while Liverpool away could also work out given that they are 7th and have lost 8 games already this season. Fulham and Southampton will not be easy games to play either, especially away from home as they are 8th and 9th respectively. Our final game of the month at home to Cardiff is simply a must win though as they are three points behind us in the league.

To offer me more options in the squad, I have recalled three players from their loan spells after they all turned 21 years of age. Alex Grant (1 goal, 1 assist and 1 MoM in 13 apps for Witton), Kevin Gomez (3 goals and 4 MoM in 26 apps for Solihull) and Manny Parry (1 goal, 1 assist and 1 MoM in 30 apps for Worcester City) are the trio of defenders who return and will hopefully help to shore up a defence that has conceded 35 goals which is the 6th worse record in the league.

Transfers

In
N/A

Out
N/A

Results

After a 2-2 draw at QPR, there were two changes with Maurice Edu, Steven N'Zonzi and Jermaine Pennant coming into the side for Ryan Inniss, Ben Glasgow and Charles Banya. We headed to St. Mary's with a record of 3 wins over them which all came last year. Earlier this year though, Southampton had beaten us 3-0 and we put that record straight once again with a superb 2-0 win with Pennant pulling the strings in creating goals for Mikey Drennan and Cameron Jerome, their 4th and 5th goals of the season.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-30.fw.png

The win over Southampton was a confidence booster as we prepared to face 2nd placed Man City who were 8 points from the top and determined to catch up to their local rivals. Alex Grant and Kevin Gomez were called into the line-up after returning from their loan spells at the expense of Geoff Cameron and James Campbell which was a risky move given that Gomez was making his debut and Grant his first start for the club. Elsewhere, Charles Banya was back in the side for the knackered Jermaine Pennant. After some early pressure from the visitors, Cameron Jerome shocked Man City with a goal in the 10th minute which lasted just four minutes before David Silva equalised and then put them ahead. Further goals from Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Asier Illarramendi confirmed a solid beating! Bloody Spanish!

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-31.fw.png

After that beating by Man City, Maurice Edu lost his place to Ryan Inniss while Jermaine Pennant and Josh Carson were in the team for James Alabi and Charles Banya. Cameron Jerome also got injured in the last match which saw a first start for Anthony Watt up front. The omens weren't good going into this game as I've failed to beat Fulham in 5 attempts. An injury to Josh Carson looked to have gone our way when his replacement Valentino Lazaro opened the scoring but just as we had done against Man City, we failed to hold the lead with Bryan Ruiz scoring an astonishing four goals in the second half! The fans and most notably, the board were not impressed!

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-32.fw.png

We travelled to Liverpool and it was all change once again and I continued the frustrating task of finding my best eleven. Jordan Pickford, James Campbell, Manny Parry (debut), Valentino Lazaro and Valentin Hayoz (first start) were all named in the side as I hoped to make the most of Liverpool's patchy form that saw them 7th in the table. A lot of fans probably feared the worst when Fabian Delph put Liverpool in the lead but Mikey Drennan's 5th goal gave us hope of going home with a point which was ruined by Danny Sturridge's winner despite the best efforts of Pickford.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-33.fw.png

Three defeats in a row and conceding 12 goals in those three games meant that I really needed a good response from the players in our home game against Cardiff who had by now dropped down to 19th in the table. There was just one change to the team with Peter Crouch starting ahead of Valentin Hayoz as I hoped to continue my record of not losing to Cardiff as Stoke boss into a fourth game. Crouch justified his selection with his 3rd of the season on the 12th minute and the in-form Mikey Drennan made it 2-0 a few minutes later. Boosted by the early lead, the players were playing some good stuff and Lucas Dawson found the net to make it three up by the halftime whistle which turned out to be the final score.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-34.fw.png

League Table

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/table1-7.fw.png

We may have got hammered by Man City and Fulham but the wins over Southampton and Cardiff were valuable and saw us move up two places in the league and extended the gap from the bottom three to six points. With 10 games left to play, we were by no means out of danger!

Player of the Month

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/pickford2.fw.png

After he'd scored three times and was named as Man of the Match award, you'd be forgiven that Mikey Drennan would be nailed on for this award for a second month but that's not the case at all. Instead, it goes to Jordan Pickford who wins it for a third time after two superb displays since coming back into the team after Jack Butland had conceded ten goals in two games. Pickford was selected at Liverpool where he was the best player on the pitch to deny shot after shot as we thought we were going home with a point until Danny Sturridge did find a winner. But he carried on that form against Cardiff who after going 3 goals down, were dictating the game in the second half as they attempted a comeback only to find Jordan Pickford said 'No!'.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Richardson, Ngoy and Bachmann are out on loan.

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 16 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.69
16 Arnautovic, Marko 12 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
44 Bachmann, Daniel 28 0 29 0 0 0 0 4 7.71
29 Banya, Charles 13 (2) 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.93
35 Bennett, Callum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 14 (1) 0 32 0 0 0 0 2 7.20
2 Cameron, Geoff 18 (1) 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.53
33 Campbell, James 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.56
28 Carson, Josh 14 (7) 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.90
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 8 (4) 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 7.25
34 Dawson, Lucas 10 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.80
7 Drennan, Mikey 12 (2) 6 0 0 3 1 0 1 7.36
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 24 0 0 0 1 8 0 0 6.63
11 Etherington, Matthew 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.60
17 Gardner, Gary 7 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.62
32 Glasgow, Ben 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.00
14 Gómez, Kevin 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.75
37 Grant, Alex 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
47 Hayoz, Valentin 1 (5) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.83
30 Heneghan, Ben 5 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
5 Inniss, Ryan 19 (2) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.86
19 Jerome, Cameron 15 (1) 6 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.88
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 3 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.80
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 25 1 0 0 1 5 0 3 7.32
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
49 Ngoy, Julien 11 7 0 0 6 0 0 4 8.09
36 Parry, Manny 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.50
21 Pennant, Jermaine 12 1 0 1 (1) 3 0 0 0 6.75
41 Pickford, Jordan 12 0 16 0 0 0 0 2 7.83
40 Richardson, Jordan 13 2 0 0 7 0 0 2 7.62
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 9 (4) 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.46
18 Shotton, Ryan 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.50
1 Sörensen, Thomas 8 0 10 0 0 1 1 1 7.13
38 Symington, David 4 (2) 2 0 2 (1) 0 1 0 0 6.67
39 Thomas, Adam 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
23 Thompson, Adam 16 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.50
45 Toth, Tommy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 12 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.77
15 Watt, Anthony 1 (3) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.75
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 14 (2) 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 6.31
26 Young, Luke 3 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60

Kingsley
08-01-14, 01:33 PM
Inching towards safety. Not there yet, but as well as being 6 points clear, there are a number of other teams between you and trouble. I know that you expected more than safety, but I'd be surprised if you found yourself in trouble now.

As for next year ...... Improvements will be needed if "the project" (why do all managers under presure have a project ?) is to be completed. The "rebuilding phase" can only go on for so long.

Pickford looks to be quite a find, as does Drennan. Last seasons big breakthrough Bijev has become a bit of a forgotten man.

Redknapp69
08-01-14, 04:25 PM
Pickford gotta keep his place IMO

Good start from Drennan and mixed results with a couple of hammerings

Where do you see yourself in next couple of seasons and think you should target cups for silverware/money and not 'do a Lambert' :)

Mark
09-01-14, 01:32 PM
Inching towards safety. Not there yet, but as well as being 6 points clear, there are a number of other teams between you and trouble. I know that you expected more than safety, but I'd be surprised if you found yourself in trouble now.

As for next year ...... Improvements will be needed if "the project" (why do all managers under presure have a project ?) is to be completed. The "rebuilding phase" can only go on for so long.

Pickford looks to be quite a find, as does Drennan. Last seasons big breakthrough Bijev has become a bit of a forgotten man.

"The project" is not yet over. The "rebuilding" phase will be officially over when the last of the original squad have been moved on :D

I've been delighted with Drennan now that he's settled in and I suspect Cornelius may have the same impact although I've yet to play him!

Bijev is injured at the moment but you are right, he has been disappointing after a great season last time. He's played 3 games so far and done nothing of note while only scoring 1 goal in 5 for Bulgaria this season which is poor compared to 4 in 3 for Bulgaria last year! I've overloaded on strikers now so competition is very tough!


Pickford gotta keep his place IMO

Good start from Drennan and mixed results with a couple of hammerings

Where do you see yourself in next couple of seasons and think you should target cups for silverware/money and not 'do a Lambert' :)

Pickford certainly will carry on as No.1 at the moment with Sorensen now the 3rd choice after that 3 rating! Butland will keep him on his toes though.

As I mentioned to Eejit, I hope to have finally moved on the remaining members of the squad I inherited by the time next season start (assuming I'm still in charge?!). That, along with a review on players that I have signed to detemine whether they're good enough or not, I'll start to have a better idea of the squad that I have and the areas I can improve on. So hopefully after next season, we'll be more established as a squad :)

How many years did it take Fergie's 'class of 92' to hit the heights? 7?

Mark
09-01-14, 02:14 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - March

Schedule

A - Chelsea (3rd) - Premier Division
A - Aston Villa (8th) - Premier Division
H - West Ham (18th) - Premier Division

Without any cup competitions to participate, March is a very quiet month indeed for us as we take on a giant on their own turf before facing two teams in claret and blue. With Aston Villa being at home, I'm hopeful of getting a draw at the very least despite their position of 8th. West Ham at home is a must win though to further increase the gap from the bottom three. It'd be a travesty to undo the hard work that we've done in the past couple of months in keeping away from serious trouble.

This transfer deadline will also pass this month and I am again hopeful that a few players can be moved on. Only those I had inherited remain on the transfer list as those I have signed will be reviewed in the Summer. I very much doubt that if I do move players on, that I'll sign any replacements though given the 50 players that I already have to choose from right now. Creating space in the squad in readiness for Summer's transfer activity is an aim of mine in the long term now.

Transfers

In
N/A

Out
N/A

No news at all to speak of as I regretfully received no bids for any of my transfer listed players as the transfer deadline came and went. I did get two offers from Barnsley for 20 year old goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann though who is doing superbly on loan at Alfreton Town. I had no intention of letting him go just yet though.

Results

We were beaten 4-2 at Chelsea last year and any improvement on that scoreline would be great! There was a change in personnel at full-back with Americans Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron replacing James Campbell and Kevin Gomez while Jermaine Pennant's injury saw a start for Charles Banya and Cameron Jerome returned up front after being declared fully fit after injury, replacing Peter Crouch. It was Jerome himself who opened the scoring after just two minutes with Chelsea looking woefully off the pace as we dictated the game. Jerome soon doubled the lead which woke Chelsea up as Romelu Lukaku responded with a goal. I was furious then, to see Manny Parry commit himself in the box as Juan Mata went down to win a penalty. Eden Hazard stepped up to level the game as we drew 2-2. A point at Chelsea isn't a bad result on the face of it but given the way it panned out, it does leave a bitter taste in your mouth!

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-35.fw.png

It was all change in defence again as Manny Parry, Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea found themselves dropped and replaced by Maurice Edu, Kevin Gomez and James Campbell while Josh Carson also came in for Valentino Lazaro who I must remember is still only 18 years of age. After playing Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea, Aston Villa were now probably pleased to face us and I urged the players not to play to that mindset. Christian Benteke put the hosts in the lead but returning to haunt them was Mikey Drennan who fired in a 7th goal of the season to which he celebrated silently in respect of his former employers. Goals for Gabby Agbonlahor and Nicklas Helenius in the second half were ruled out, much to our delight as we picked up another point on the road.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-36.fw.png

An international break in midweek saw impressive performances for USA from Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron and so they were recalled to the defence in place of James Campbell and Maurice Edu with Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch the only other two changes as they came in for Charles Banya and Cameron Jerome. A 3-2 win over Cardiff had given West Ham a relegation escape boost in their last game and I hoped to extinguish them in a return to our home turf. The first 10 minutes was hectic as the referee turned down a penalty shout for us after Josh Carson was felled before Jordi Gomez went up the other end and scored. Peter Crouch found an equaliser and after a heated exchange between Winston Reid and Steven N'Zonzi, the latter was pushed which earned Reid a red card. That's just what we needed as Crouch found the net again to put us in the lead with his 5th goal of the season. West Ham were a team playing without confidence and the loss of Kevin Nolan to another red card confirmed defeat for them as we disappointingly didn't find the net again to make the most of the two extra man. Nevertheless, it was a valuable three points for us.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-37.fw.png

League Table

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/table1-8.fw.png

A good month! An unexpected point at Chelsea, another hard fought point at Aston Villa and a win over West Ham sees us go four games unbeaten (after also beating Cardiff at the end of last month) although we stay 15th in the table. The good news though is that we have caught up to Leicester having been three points behind while the gap from the bottom three has been extended from 6 points to 8. With 7 games to play, we were inching towards safety even further and I had high hopes now that we could do better than the 13th place managed last year. Especially as we were now just two wins away from equaling the 40 points picked up as well.

Player of the Month

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/crouch.fw.png

Well, here's a first! Despite being 34 years of age now, Peter Crouch has looked rejuvenated this month after putting in a star performance against West Ham with two goals that helped the club comeback from 1-0 down to win 2-1. In fact, Crouch started his good form last month when Cameron Jerome was injured and although Jerome started at Chelsea and scored twice before an average performance at Aston Villa, Crouch was put back in against West Ham and delivered.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Richardson, Ngoy and Bachmann are out on loan.

************************************************** **********************************************
Stoke City - Tuesday 1st April 2003
************************************************** **********************************************


================================================== ==============================================
2002/3 Senior Club Stats
================================================== ==============================================

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 16 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.69
16 Arnautovic, Marko 12 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
44 Bachmann, Daniel 32 0 32 0 0 0 0 4 7.72
29 Banya, Charles 15 (2) 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.82
35 Bennett, Callum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 14 (1) 0 32 0 0 0 0 2 7.20
2 Cameron, Geoff 20 (1) 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 6.52
33 Campbell, James 10 (1) 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 6.55
28 Carson, Josh 16 (7) 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.87
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 9 (5) 5 0 0 1 1 0 1 7.36
34 Dawson, Lucas 13 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.77
7 Drennan, Mikey 15 (2) 7 0 0 4 1 0 1 7.35
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 25 0 0 0 1 8 0 0 6.60
11 Etherington, Matthew 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.60
17 Gardner, Gary 7 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.62
32 Glasgow, Ben 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.00
14 Gómez, Kevin 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.17
37 Grant, Alex 7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.57
47 Hayoz, Valentin 1 (5) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.83
30 Heneghan, Ben 5 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
5 Inniss, Ryan 19 (2) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.86
19 Jerome, Cameron 17 (2) 8 0 0 1 0 0 1 6.89
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 4 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.83
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 28 1 0 0 2 5 0 3 7.32
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
49 Ngoy, Julien 16 7 0 0 8 1 0 5 8.00
36 Parry, Manny 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 5.67
21 Pennant, Jermaine 13 1 0 1 (1) 3 1 0 0 6.77
41 Pickford, Jordan 15 0 20 0 0 0 0 2 7.67
40 Richardson, Jordan 19 6 0 0 8 0 0 2 7.58
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 11 (4) 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.27
18 Shotton, Ryan 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.50
1 Sörensen, Thomas 8 0 10 0 0 1 1 1 7.13
38 Symington, David 4 (2) 2 0 2 (1) 0 1 0 0 6.67
39 Thomas, Adam 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
23 Thompson, Adam 16 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.50
45 Toth, Tommy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 12 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.77
15 Watt, Anthony 1 (3) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.75
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 14 (2) 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 6.31
26 Young, Luke 3 (3) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.83

BobMem
09-01-14, 02:17 PM
I think you'll stay up, but can't start thinking about next season! Concentrate!!

Kingsley
09-01-14, 02:30 PM
Just finished rubbing my eyes. I will re-read, but I think that I have just witnessed a Henderson side go a full callendar month unbeaten ...... I know ...... don't be silly ...... such things only happen in weak fiction.

What was that ? Crouch player of the month ! Pure fantasy, pull yourself together man.

With Norwich having a game in hand, beating that 13th place won't be easy. I think you might just match that this season. No chance of relegation now

Mark
09-01-14, 02:43 PM
I think you'll stay up, but can't start thinking about next season! Concentrate!!

True! Mustn't get carried away just yet!


Just finished rubbing my eyes. I will re-read, but I think that I have just witnessed a Henderson side go a full callendar month unbeaten ...... I know ...... don't be silly ...... such things only happen in weak fiction.

What was that ? Crouch player of the month ! Pure fantasy, pull yourself together man.

With Norwich having a game in hand, beating that 13th place won't be easy. I think you might just match that this season. No chance of relegation now

:D Do we have a chance of equaling my best record of 5 games without losing that was set last year? Fingers crossed!

Just had a glance at Norwich's fixture schedule. Their last four games are against Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea :eek:

ebfatz
09-01-14, 03:15 PM
Bring back Bijev I say!

And Cornelius hasn't even had a kick!
Way to treat your record buy!!!

kuy
09-01-14, 03:35 PM
A great month! Got to keep it up in April now...

Redknapp69
10-01-14, 02:18 AM
Very good month mate!

Mark
10-01-14, 12:58 PM
Bring back Bijev I say!

And Cornelius hasn't even had a kick!
Way to treat your record buy!!!

I have too many strikers to play either of them :D Bijev currently 6th in line according to form. Cornelius is now injured and 8th in line! I plan on sorting this out in the Summer if I'm allowed to plan ahead that far :D


Very good month mate!

It is indeed! Hopefully it progresses now into April.

Mark
10-01-14, 01:32 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - April

Schedule

H - Brighton (19th) - Premier Division
A - Newcastle (12th) - Premier Division
H - Everton (6th) - Premier Division
A - Man Utd (1st) - Premier Division

Beating West Ham allowed us to extend the gap from the danger zone and now we had another opportunity to bridge it even further as we host Brighton. Like Leicester, they were promoted and surprisingly beat us away from home and we really needed to put that record straight before a tough looking run of games against Newcastle, Leicester and Man Utd.

We simply have to win this game in case we did go on a bad run as we tend to from time to time. I had another player recalled from a loan spell to help as well as Jordan Richardson's recent birthday saw his time at Ebbsfleet United end with a record of 19 games, 6 goals, 8 assists and 2 MoM awards. Impressive stuff and hopefully he can now build upon his debut from the bench earlier this season before he went to Ebbsfleet.

Transfers

In
N/A

Out
N/A

Obviously the transfer window had now passed but it didn't mean that we couldn't negotiate any offers that came in for my players. Unfortunately, none were made!

Results

You certainly can't say that I wasn't giving Stoke's youngsters a chance this season as I made changes for the visit of Brighton by dropping Brek Shea and Josh Carson and handed a start to two of Stoke's original academy players. James Campbell and the recently recalled Jordan Richardson. That meant there were 6 players aged 21 starting the match with Mikey Drennan also 22 years of age. Perhaps it's that lack of experience that was a problem for us this season in terms of consistency and it seemed that way in this game as ex-Potter Glenn Whelan opened the scoring for Brighton and Stuart Holden made it 2-0. Thankfully, Drennan found the net as he led a comeback before Cameron Jerome came off the bench to level the game. If we had found a winner, it'd have been well deserved but it wasn't to be.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-38.fw.png

Jermaine Pennant had gone a bit off the boil again recently so his place was given to Marko Arnautovic on the right wing who still hadn't quite got going since I arrived. That was the only change as we took on a Newcastle team that I'd lost all of my previous three games against. Although Mariano Diaz handed Newcastle the lead, we were playing very well (Peter Crouch the exception!) and fully deserved the equaliser which came from Alex Grant's first ever goal for Stoke. Unfortunately, Cheick Tiote scored again after just a minute and Cameron Jerome thought he'd scored only for his effort to be disallowed for offside. The boys kept battling away and were done on the counter as Roman Amalfitano and Tiote made it 4-1 to Newcastle. Such an undeserved beating!

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-39.fw.png

In the same week, West Ham sacked Sam Allardyce and West Brom sacked Mark Hughes as I was reminded that being a manager was a very tough business indeed. Everton were now on the agenda and it was all change in midfield with Valentino Lazaro taking over from Jordan Richardson as the advanced midfielder while Charles Banya took over from the disappointing Marko Arnautovic. Fitness concerns over both Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome saw only a second start for Valentin Hayoz up front. In the space of six minutes we were dealt a double blow as Steven Pienaar put Everton in the lead before we lost one of our more consistent performers in Steven N'Zonzi to injury. Obafemi Martins doubled their lead as we never looked like getting out of first gear in a very poor performance in front of some very disgruntled supporters.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-40.fw.png

An international break was probably just what we needed as we looked to regroup but the next game taking place at Old Trafford was just what we didn't need! Nevertheless, we travelled to play Man Utd with 7 players coming into the team - Thomas Sorensen, Ben Glasgow, Marc Wilson, Maurice Edu, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jordan Richardson and Peter Crouch. The changes had no effect as Antonio Valencia, Angelo Henriquez and Javier Hernandez made it 3-0 to the league leaders by half-time. A dressing down followed during the interval and we came out looking like a different team as we took the game to the hosts with Peter Crouch pulling one back. David Moyes though, had the luxury of putting on Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney from the bench to stem our advances and Hernandez struck again to make it 4-1.

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/senior1-41.fw.png

League Table

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/table1-9.fw.png

A terrible month of results and three defeats in a row completely ruined all the good work we'd done in the past two months as we were suddenly in DEEP trouble. West Ham were already relegated but Brighton and QPR were both revitalised as they overtook us in the table and put us in the bottom three! We did have the advantage of a game in hand but it wasn't looking good and the final three games in May were now all six pointers!

Player of the Month

https://googledrive.com/host/0B83oINtNP81-WmVLY1dKUkFVMzQ/drennan.fw.png

How does one choose a Player of the Month after a poor run of games in April? The only shining star seems to be Mikey Drennan who kept up his good form even if those around him have been disappointing. He played every minute of all four games as captain and was our saviour against Brighton as we fought back from 2-0 down to claim a point with Drennan scoring the first goal in the 2-2 draw and being named Man of the Match.

Squad Statistics



* Note - Ngoy and Bachmann are out on loan.

================================================== ==============================================
2002/3 Senior Club Stats
================================================== ==============================================

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 16 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.69
16 Arnautovic, Marko 13 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.47
44 Bachmann, Daniel 35 0 32 0 0 0 0 4 7.74
29 Banya, Charles 17 (2) 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.79
35 Bennett, Callum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 14 (1) 0 32 0 0 0 0 2 7.20
2 Cameron, Geoff 24 (1) 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.48
33 Campbell, James 14 (1) 1 0 0 0 3 0 1 6.47
28 Carson, Josh 16 (7) 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.87
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 12 (5) 6 0 0 1 1 0 1 7.18
34 Dawson, Lucas 16 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.69
7 Drennan, Mikey 19 (2) 8 0 0 4 2 0 2 7.33
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 26 0 0 0 2 8 0 0 6.65
11 Etherington, Matthew 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.60
17 Gardner, Gary 7 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.62
32 Glasgow, Ben 6 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 5.83
14 Gómez, Kevin 9 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.22
37 Grant, Alex 10 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
47 Hayoz, Valentin 2 (5) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.71
30 Heneghan, Ben 5 (7) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.25
5 Inniss, Ryan 19 (2) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.86
19 Jerome, Cameron 17 (5) 9 0 0 1 0 0 1 6.91
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 5 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.71
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 31 1 0 0 3 5 0 3 7.29
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
49 Ngoy, Julien 21 8 0 0 12 1 0 6 8.05
36 Parry, Manny 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 5.67
21 Pennant, Jermaine 14 1 0 1 (1) 3 1 0 0 6.71
41 Pickford, Jordan 18 0 28 0 0 0 0 2 7.44
40 Richardson, Jordan 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7.00
43 Rossi, Karim - - - - - - - - ----
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
20 Shea, Brek 11 (4) 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.27
18 Shotton, Ryan 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.50
1 Sörensen, Thomas 9 0 14 0 0 1 1 1 7.00
38 Symington, David 4 (3) 2 0 2 (1) 0 2 0 0 6.57
39 Thomas, Adam 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
23 Thompson, Adam 16 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.50
45 Toth, Tommy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 13 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.86
15 Watt, Anthony 1 (3) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.75
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 15 (2) 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 6.24
26 Young, Luke 3 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75

BobMem
10-01-14, 01:43 PM
Bloody hell, what happened?!

From the sublime to the ridiculous springs to mind. That game in hand is must win!

ebfatz
10-01-14, 02:28 PM
When I said bring in a few youngsters way back when Bijev got his chance, I didn't think that you were going to go all out and replace them all.

Considering the Class of 92 as we've spoken about them so often. They got their chance but there was only 6 of them. They still had quality and experience around them ie Cantona, McClair, Bruce, Pallister, Ince, Keane.
Beckham didn't make his first league start until April 1995!

I fear you may have gone too big too soon and it may cost you.
I hope I'm wrong!

Mark
10-01-14, 03:11 PM
Yeah, the initial concept I had of gradually phasing out the experienced players and bringing through the youngsters from the development squad kind of went out of the window :/

I suppose I panicked at the poor start to the season and decided to merge the squads together and started to pick those in form. I guess some players aren't ready for it yet or not good enough at all for this level.

Mark
13-01-14, 02:02 PM
http://natterfootball.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/britannia-stadium-21.jpg
Stoke City - Season 2 - May

I couldn't deny it, I was nervous as I've ever been in my managing career so far as I prepared for the final month of my second year at my childhood team Stoke City.

It wasn't the fact that I had never been relegated in my years as manager of Alfreton Town, Hoffenheim or Stuttgart. It was because this was my team and the project that I had agreed to take on with Tony Scholes and Peter Coates hadn't quite taken off yet and now I was in the position where the club could get relegated unless we ended the season on a high. Was this a case of managing my team? A job that you shouldn't take on because if you are responsible for relegating your own team then is it something you'll ever recover from?

It was a case of self-destruct in April which left us in this position. We'd been having a good run and then a bad run all season but it all fell apart last month with other teams around us picking up points.

The first game of this month was actually my last home game of the season which was against Queens Park Rangers who had appointed Martin Reim as manager after Harry Redknapp led them to promotion before retiring. Q.P.R. were the team who had gone above us after their 2-1 win against Cardiff while we'd lost 4-1 at Man Utd to drop into 18th place. A win against them was vital to sign off my home season with a win and to potentially move us to 15th in the league table before we had to play Tottenham and Swansea away.

My team selection was crucial. There weren't many players with experience of playing at the top level left in my squad as I had brought in a lot of youngsters (as is the objective, of course) from the lower leagues. Of the team that played at Man Utd, Ben Glasgow and James Campbell were dropped with Alex Grant and Kevin Gomez coming in. There was also a third change as Charles Banya made way on the right wing for Marko Arnautovic as I demanded a performance from the Austrian who had scored just four and created two goals over two years in 35 games. I was looking to he, Mikey Drennan and Peter Crouch to get us the goals needed against Q.P.R.


http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/match-centre/article848254.ece/ALTERNATES/gallery-large/Peter-Crouch-Stoke-City-celebrates-Blackburn-cropped

On the 24th minute, Peter Crouch thought he had scored against one of his former clubs only to find that Howard Webb had disallowed his effort for an offside call to Marko Arnautovic!

Admittedly, we were underperforming with Q.P.R. dictating the game. Tomas Ramonas, one of their goalscorers in a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road earlier this season, found the net in the second half before I made a double change of putting on Karim Rossi and Lucas Dawson for Crouch and Ryan Tunnicliffe which had no effect on the game at all. We lost 1-0.

With Thomas Sorensen named as man of the match, the fans were quite rightly upset at the manner of our performance as we now had a massive task on our hands to get wins at Tottenham and Swansea. We would be taking them on without the services of Brek Shea who returns to America in a £1.6M deal to Chivas USA. The left back slash winger had played 35 times for me, scoring twice and thankfully frees up a slot in my 50 man squad. The real question was whether I would get to fill that slot in the Summer? I did attempt to secure a deal for Tonny Trindade de Vilhena for £2.5M but when also offered a contract by PSV, the 20 year old Feyenoord midfielder chose to stay in Holland.


http://www.mlssoccer.com/sites/league/files/imagecache/620x350/image_nodes/2013/04/shea.jpg

Our survival hopes were given a massive boost as Steven N'Zonzi made a full return to training. The defensive midfielder had been one of few shining lights this season but had missed the past two games and we had missed him dearly. He went straight into the side for the trip to Tottenham with Maurice Edu dropping back to play in defence as Geoff Cameron and Alex Grant were dropped. James Campbell took up the left back slot. Lucas Dawson and Valentino Lazaro were two other changes as Jordan Richardson and Ryan Tunnicliffe were also omitted from the starting line-up.

Getting a result at Tottenham was going to be incredibly took. We had managed to knock them out of the League Cup on our way to the trophy last year but had failed to get a point against them in the league itself. They were missing Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe but still had a strong team as Roberto Soldado and Kyle Naughton played in their place.

Soldado himself scored after just one minute. Gylfi Sigurdsson curling a cross for the Spaniard to beat Kevin Gomez in the air and despatch against Thomas Sorensen. But we equalised through Steven N'Zonzi to show that we were not out of the game by any means and a 70th minute strike by Valentino Lazaro had us dreaming of the three points. Two minutes left on the clock, Christian Eriksen laid off a pass to Aaron Lennon who unleashed a drive that Sorensen could not stop. We go home with a point.


http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Steven%2BN%2BZonzi%2BStoke%2BCity%2Bv%2BChelsea%2B Premier%2BYUZmG9C-HJYl.jpg

The last game of the season in Wales was now make or break. West Ham and Cardiff were both already relegated and we were still 18th and two points behind Leicester and three behind Brighton, West Brom and Q.P.R. That meant that if we could get a win, it could still be one of four other teams that end up being relegated.

Marc Wilson had put in a string of below-par performances and was replaced in the team by Ryan Inniss at centre-back. Peter Crouch had also lost form and Karim Rossi was given a first start up top with Ryan Tunnicliffe also coming in for Lucas Dawson.

I gave an emotional speech to the players before the game. This was a game we couldn't lose. I couldn't bear my time getting relegated. We simply had to win. A point wouldn't be enough. It was do or die!

The players responded to it in the manner that I wanted. Swansea had a few chances with only Steven Fletcher finding the target without getting past Thomas Sorensen. Michael Vorm however, was in top form to deny us 7 times by half-time with two shots also going off target. We were playing well, we just hadn't found our way past Vorm yet.

How were the other games going? Not that it mattered unless we scored but Leicester were losing against Man City 1-0, QPR were beating Aston Villa 3-2, Brighton were losing at Tottenham 1-0 while West Brom were winning 1-0 against Cardiff. A mixed bag of scores so far but we had our own task to focus on.

We continued in the same vein as in the first half as Vorm remained the busiest player on the pitch. Three minutes in, a breakthrough! Haris Vuckic had given away a free-kick after handling the ball and it was delivered into the box by Kevin Gomez and Karim Rossi rose before Vorm's outstretched arms to nod the ball into the net! His first goal for Stoke on his first start!


http://staffslive.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Karim-rossi-picture-inside-story_1841586707_n-1.jpg

As it stands, we were safe! Cardiff had levelled at West Brom and with Leicester losing to Man City, they were the ones occupying 18th place.

The tempo of the game didn't change as we continued our assault at Vorm and co. Rossi was proving a menace for Ashley Williams and after beating Williams to a ball, he rounded Vorm only to be pulled down. The referee gave a penalty and a yellow card for Vorm much to my anger as I felt he was clearly the last man. Approaching me on the halfway line, he explained that he felt Williams could have got to Rossi before the shot and I was having none of it. Nevertheless, Gomez took the penalty himself and doubled the lead as I forgot all about it as we celebrated wildly. It was all Stoke from then on as we didn't score again but confirmed the 2-0 win.

Did we stay up? We certainly did, finishing 17th as Leicester were relegated following a 3-1 defeat to Man City. Thank God for that as we had levelled with Brighton and West Brom and if Leicester hadn't lost, we'd have been relegated due to our terrible goal difference after conceding 66 goals this season.

I didn't stick around to celebrate. I was going to go on holiday to recharge my batteries after quite possibly the most stressful season of my life!

Season 2 Summary


================================================== ==============================================
2002/3 Senior Club Stats
================================================== ==============================================

No Name Apps Gls Con Pens Asts Yel Red MoM Av R
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
46 Alabi, James 16 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 6.69
16 Arnautovic, Marko 16 (2) 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.50
44 Bachmann, Daniel 37 0 34 0 0 0 0 5 7.73
29 Banya, Charles 17 (2) 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.79
35 Bennett, Callum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
24 Bijev, Villyan 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.33
13 Butland, Jack 14 (1) 0 32 0 0 0 0 2 7.20
2 Cameron, Geoff 25 (1) 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 6.46
33 Campbell, James 16 (1) 1 0 0 0 3 0 1 6.47
28 Carson, Josh 16 (7) 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.87
- Cornelius, Andreas 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ----
9 Crouch, Peter 14 (5) 6 0 0 1 1 0 1 7.00
34 Dawson, Lucas 17 (1) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.67
7 Drennan, Mikey 22 (2) 8 0 0 4 2 0 2 7.29
25 Dunne, Charles 9 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6.33
22 Edu, Maurice 29 0 0 0 2 8 0 0 6.69
11 Etherington, Matthew 10 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 6.60
17 Gardner, Gary 7 (6) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.62
32 Glasgow, Ben 6 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 5.83
14 Gómez, Kevin 12 1 0 1 (1) 3 0 0 0 6.33
37 Grant, Alex 11 (1) 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.42
47 Hayoz, Valentin 2 (5) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 6.71
30 Heneghan, Ben 5 (7) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.25
5 Inniss, Ryan 20 (2) 0 0 0 1 6 0 1 6.91
19 Jerome, Cameron 17 (5) 9 0 0 1 0 0 1 6.91
10 Jones, Kenwyne 0 (1) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.00
31 Keane, Jordan 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.40
48 Lazaro, Valentino 7 (2) 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.78
42 Moberg Karlsson, David 0 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.60
4 N'Zonzi, Steven 33 2 0 0 3 5 0 3 7.30
12 Ness, Jamie 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
49 Ngoy, Julien 23 8 0 0 16 1 0 8 8.04
36 Parry, Manny 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 5.67
21 Pennant, Jermaine 14 1 0 1 (1) 3 1 0 0 6.71
41 Pickford, Jordan 18 0 28 0 0 0 0 2 7.44
40 Richardson, Jordan 4 (1) 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 6.80
43 Rossi, Karim 1 (2) 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 7.33
27 Sampson, Jack 6 (2) 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75
18 Shotton, Ryan 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6.50
1 Sörensen, Thomas 12 0 17 0 0 1 1 2 7.33
38 Symington, David 4 (3) 2 0 2 (1) 0 2 0 0 6.57
39 Thomas, Adam 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
23 Thompson, Adam 16 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 6.50
45 Toth, Tommy 1 (2) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.00
8 Tunnicliffe, Ryan 15 (2) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.82
15 Watt, Anthony 1 (3) 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6.75
3 Wilkinson, Andy 3 (7) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.20
6 Wilson, Marc 17 (2) 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 6.16
26 Young, Luke 3 (5) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6.75



================================================== ==============================================
2002/3 Transfers
================================================== ==============================================

Date Player In From Fee
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
14.6.02 David Symington Carlisle £30K
17.6.02 Tommy Toth Bury £30K
21.6.02 Luke Young Plymouth £150K
23.6.02 Jack Sampson Morecambe £100K
25.6.02 Charles Banya Fulham £300K
25.6.02 Jordan Pickford Sunderland £140K
27.6.02 Josh Carson York £240K
30.6.02 Ryan Inniss Crystal Palace £700K
5.7.02 Charles Dunne Blackpool £525K
6.7.02 Valentino Lazaro Red Bull Salzburg £2.6M
12.7.02 David Moberg Karlsson Sunderland £1.2M
14.7.02 Anthony Watt Celtic £800K
19.7.02 Eric Steele Derby £525K
25.7.02 Adam Thompson Watford £1.2M
29.7.02 Ryan Tunnicliffe Man Utd £1.8M
1.11.02 Mikey Drennan Aston Villa £5.25M
3.12.02 Andreas Cornelius Cardiff £5.75M

Date Player Out To Fee
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
16.6.02 Erik Pieters Ajax £4.1M
17.6.02 Asmir Begovic Olympiacos £5M
20.6.02 Marc Muniesa Betis £4.7M
26.6.02 Charlie Adam Newcastle £5.25M
27.6.02 Glenn Whelan Brighton £2M
30.6.02 Ryan Shawcross Liverpool £8M
1.7.02 Robert Huth Hoffenheim £3.9M
17.7.02 James Campbell Alfreton Loan
17.7.02 Daniel Bachmann Alfreton Loan
18.7.02 Wilson Palacios Hertha BSC £1.9M
21.7.02 Kevin Gómez Solihull Loan
30.7.02 Manny Parry Worcester City Loan
31.7.02 Michael Kightly Celtic £2.8M
6.8.02 Ben Glasgow Worcester City Loan
21.10.02 Jonathan Walters Reading £2.2M
27.10.02 Alex Grant Witton Loan
8.11.02 Lucas Dawson Gloucester Loan
30.11.02 Jordan Richardson Ebbsfleet Utd Loan
21.12.02 Julien Ngoy Gloucester Loan
3.5.03 Brek Shea Chivas USA £1.6M




================================================== ==============================================
2002/3 Fixtures
================================================== ==============================================

Date Opposition Ven Competition Res Attend Scorers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
17.8.02 Leicester A Premier Division 1:2 32284 N'Zonzi
21.8.02 Norwich H Premier Division 0:1 29370
24.8.02 West Brom A Premier Division 2:0 25718 Gardner, Sampson
7.9.02 Arsenal A Premier Division 0:3 57481
12.9.02 Lille FRA H UEFA Cup 1st Rnd Leg 1 2:0 27017 Carson, Crouch
15.9.02 Chelsea H Premier Division 0:1 29351
21.9.02 Man City A Premier Division 0:2 47759
26.9.02 Lille FRA A UEFA Cup 1st Rnd Leg 2 1:4 21026 Arnautovic
29.9.02 Liverpool H Premier Division 0:3 29343
2.10.02 Southampton H Premier Division 0:3 29373
14.10.02 Cardiff A Premier Division 1:0 26823 Carson
19.10.02 Fulham H Premier Division 1:1 29343 Hayoz
26.10.02 Aston Villa H Premier Division 2:0 29374 Crouch, Banya
30.10.02 Arsenal A League Cup 3rd Rnd 0:2 51457
2.11.02 West Ham A Premier Division 2:0 35437 Jerome, Gardner
9.11.02 Newcastle H Premier Division 1:2 29355 Banya
16.11.02 Everton A Premier Division 0:1 36488
23.11.02 Tottenham H Premier Division 0:3 29342
30.11.02 Brighton A Premier Division 1:2 30747 Symington
8.12.02 Man Utd H Premier Division 1:3 29364 Carson
21.12.02 Norwich A Premier Division 2:1 21860 Arnautovic, Jerome
26.12.02 West Brom H Premier Division 1:2 29334 Jerome
28.12.02 Swansea H Premier Division 3:1 29347 Drennan, Symington pen, Banya
1.1.03 Leicester H Premier Division 0:2 28461
4.1.03 Doncaster A FA Cup 3rd Rnd 1:1 8413 B.Shea
15.1.03 Doncaster H FA Cup 3rd Rnd Replay 1:0 26106 Drennan
19.1.03 Arsenal H Premier Division 2:0 29338 J.Campbell, Pennant pen
25.1.03 Wigan A FA Cup 4th Rnd 2:4 21764 Drennan, Jerome
29.1.03 Q.P.R. A Premier Division 2:2 19109 Dawson, Banya
1.2.03 Southampton A Premier Division 2:0 32660 Drennan, Jerome
5.2.03 Man City H Premier Division 1:6 29334 Jerome
8.2.03 Fulham A Premier Division 1:4 28193 Lazaro
12.2.03 Liverpool A Premier Division 1:2 45348 Drennan
22.2.03 Cardiff H Premier Division 3:0 29364 Crouch, Drennan, Dawson
2.3.03 Chelsea A Premier Division 2:2 42050 Jerome 2
15.3.03 Aston Villa A Premier Division 1:1 42550 Drennan
29.3.03 West Ham H Premier Division 2:1 29381 Crouch 2
12.4.03 Brighton H Premier Division 2:2 29361 Drennan, Jerome
16.4.03 Newcastle A Premier Division 1:4 49310 Grant
19.4.03 Everton H Premier Division 0:2 29360
26.4.03 Man Utd A Premier Division 1:4 75049 Crouch
3.5.03 Q.P.R. H Premier Division 0:1 28884
14.5.03 Tottenham A Premier Division 2:2 36261 N'Zonzi, Lazaro
18.5.03 Swansea A Premier Division 2:0 20518 Rossi, Gómez pen

ebfatz
13-01-14, 05:04 PM
Henderson seen leaving the stadium!

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bRCJTxdb18Q/TgeRN9X5C9I/AAAAAAAAAZE/BBo3tEQ63WE/s320/IRrLVBYh.jpg

Mark
13-01-14, 05:35 PM
Stoke City - Season 3 - Pre-Season
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


I had to admit it, that was one of the hardest seasons that I've ever had to deal with, even surpassing the struggles that I had at First Division level at Alfreton where I could only bring players in on a free transfer.

At least at Alfreton, I was able to sign players that did have a bit of experience and quality about them. There were some gems amongst the 19 players that I had signed so far in two years at Stoke but some of them were clearly not cut out for the Premier Division and that applied to nearly all of the youngsters that I had inherited as well after promising to give them a chance.

Well, they certainly had their chance now and while I was still looking to free up space in the squad by selling 14 of the senior players that were still in the books, I was now going to sit back and have a good think about the rest of the squad including the players that I had signed in order to decide their future.

After returning from a full month (yes, I needed that long to recover!), I came back to Stoke and made 20 players available for transfer in addition to the aforementioned 14 senior players. That made it 34 players that I decided to try and cash in on as I looked to strengthen the overall quality of the squad to avoid going through a relegation battle again.

Jack Butland, Adam Thompson, Kevin Gomez, Ryan Inniss, Charles Dunne, Mikey Drennan, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Charles Banya, Julien Ngoy, Valentino Lazaro, Gary Gardner, Villyan Bijev, Andreas Cornelius, Anthony Watt and David Moberg Karlsson were the lucky 15 that I wanted to keep for the forseeable future. That meant that there were some surprise names such as Valentino Hayoz and Jordan Pickford who I decided didn't have a future at the Britannia Stadium.


http://www.avfc.co.uk/javaImages/9/86/0,,10265~10061321,00.jpg

They weren't easy decisions to make but you only have to look at the 'Class of '92' to see that there were a few names in that group of Manchester United youth players who didn't make the grade. These were ours and obviously I wished them all the very best of luck in their future careers!

Behind the scenes, the club invested £5M into adding 5,000 seats to the Brit which took the capacity to 34,383. My assistant manager for the past two years, Dennis Rofe also retired and as a result, I promoted coach Eric Steele as his replacement and T.N.S coach Steve Evans was brought in to join the team at a cost of £1K in compensation. Harry Wilshaw, one of my physios, also retired and Taunton were paid £20K for the services of Joe Whelan as his replacement. Former Italian midfielder Cristian Brocchi was also hired as a scout from Bristol Rovers for £40K after Southampton poached Rob Walker from my scouting team. £50K also went to Met Police for scout Adrian Reeves after Simon Keen was another to retire.

The start of those leaving began with Matthew Etherington who joined Burnley for £725K, not a bad price at all for a 33 year old who I selected just 10 times last season. James Alabi soon followed him out of the door in joining Tranmere for £875K. I had started him 16 times last year but he failed to find the net once. £3M was also gratefully received from the frustrating Marko Arnautovic from Dusseldorf. In 38 games, he had scored just 4 goals and an even poorer record of 2 assists during that time. Perhaps not surprisingly, Peter Crouch hung up his boots at the age of 34 and he left with my utmost thanks after 17 goals over two seasons for me. Jamie Ness then moved to Argentina in a £1.4M deal to San Lorenzo. After 6 goals in my first season, he played just three times last year after falling out of the picture. £875K was also received for goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann from Oxford who had never played for us. With his contract expiring at the end of the new season, Geoff Cameron joined Al Ain in a disappointing cut-price £1M deal.

Byron Lawrence, a 19 year old central midfielder from Ipswich was the first player that I signed for a fee of £825K. I had to battle Steve Bruce for his signature and thankfully he chose Stoke over Hull as we snapped up a player who has played 24 times for Ipswich, scoring three goals. After being released by Fulham, Max Oberschmidt had 7 teams chasing his services and chose to join us over the likes of Gaziantepspor, Karabukspor and Belgrano. The 20 year old goalkeeper is seen as backup for Jack Butland.


http://www.eadt.co.uk/polopoly_fs/gb_012_helmond_v_ipswich_16_1_1449819!image/486044053.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_630/486044053.jpg

One player I did lose out to though was Christian Dibble, a 21 year old goalkeeper from Barnsley who chose to join Chelsea instead of us. With Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois on the books there, I doubt he'll be playing anytime soon! Southampton also pipped me for Crystal Palace's Jonathan Williams who also turned down Swansea as well as ourselves in a £3M transfer.

By the time the first game of the new season had come around, no further signings had been made as attempts to recruit a left winger and a defensive midfielder failed to materialise. I was happy to have cut the squad down to 44 players and hoped to continue doing so throughout the season but for now, I would have to make do with a very similar looking squad for our first game which takes place at Norwich City.

Redknapp69
14-01-14, 03:15 AM
Amazing write up and 'congrats' on staying up . . . .

. . . . I asked the Swansea boys to go easy on you in the final game :)

Very surprised to see Pickford on transfer list - why is that when you bought another reserve keeper? He seemed to do well when chosen and surely young enough to continue to develop as a reserve?

That Dutch Trindad guy is awesome as is Jonny Williams - signed them both on my 01/02 Swans game
Will Hughes/Fountas/Skrabb/Nurishi/Kolar/Bodic all in my Swans 1st team as great youngsters as well

All the best for new season!

Kingsley
14-01-14, 10:14 AM
Phew !

That was leaving too much to the last minute.

Mark
14-01-14, 10:35 AM
Amazing write up and 'congrats' on staying up . . . .

. . . . I asked the Swansea boys to go easy on you in the final game :)

Very surprised to see Pickford on transfer list - why is that when you bought another reserve keeper? He seemed to do well when chosen and surely young enough to continue to develop as a reserve?

That Dutch Trindad guy is awesome as is Jonny Williams - signed them both on my 01/02 Swans game
Will Hughes/Fountas/Skrabb/Nurishi/Kolar/Bodic all in my Swans 1st team as great youngsters as well

All the best for new season!

I am trying to bring a better quality of player to the club. Pickford did have a few impressive performances last season and grabbed 2 MoM awards but in other games, he was found out. The backroom team seem to think he has no future with us so I'm hoping to find a better player to compete with Butland.

I was gutted that those two players turned us down. Knew they'd add quality but hopefully I can address that with other players!


Phew !

That was leaving too much to the last minute.

That's why I went on holiday for a month. Never again... :lol:

Mark
14-01-14, 10:37 AM
Stoke City - Season 3 - The Beginning
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


The policy of selecting by form had been somewhat tough to follow last season as players were continually dropping in and out of the team which may have been tough for them to gain some consistency to their performances. I'd had a good think about that during the weeks building up to the game and the team had a somewhat new look and feel to it for the first game away at Norwich.

Premier Division - Norwich v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne (Marc Wilson), Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi, Charles Banya, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Gary Gardner), Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

With the exception of Steven N'Zonzi, the team was made up entirely of those I had inherited or bought under the age of 22. Six were now 22, three were 21 and Lazaro was 19. Chris Hughton's transfer activity had seen the signature of Jonjo Shelvey and four Bosmans in Ryan Taylor, George Friend, Scott Dann and a returning 34 year old Grant Holt who all started the game. Holt last 8 minutes before getting injured and Dunne lasted 36 before I had to replace him with Marc Wilson. We played quite well but fell behind to a Shelvey goal by half-time. The game was levelled after the break with Tunnicliffe finding the net for the first time on his 18th appearance. The draw was the final result and I was especially pleased that we'd managed a 100% ratio of 7 shots that all hit the target as John Ruddy was named Man of the Match.

Premier Division - Stoke v Aston Villa
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson (Marc Wilson), Steven N'Zonzi, Charles Banya, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Valentino Lazaro, Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

Although Marc Wilson had done a decent job filling in for Charles Dunne at Norwich, I liked his versatility as a D/DMLC on the bench and instead played Andy Wilkinson at left back with Dunne missing this game and the next at Arsenal. I debated whether to swap Gary Gardner in for Valentino Lazaro but gave my 19 year old Austrian another start as Aston Villa came to the Britannia with Ricky van Wolfswinkel up front who had scored twice on his debut in a 3-2 win over Sunderland. Wilson found himself on the pitch again in the first half as Adam Thompson was injured on the 29th minute. The visitors were in control of the game as we moved into the second half at 0-0 and when I suspected that they were tiring, I threw on Villyan Bijev and Byron Lawrence for Cornelius and Tunnicliffe which had the exact opposite effect that I wanted. Iago Aspas and van Wolfswinkel both scored in the last three minutes to win the game 2-0.

Ben Glasgow became the 8th player to leave Stoke as Burton Albion signed him up for £250K. He was worth more but 6 games and an average rating of 5.83 last season left me just happy to bank some money for the right-back.


http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Ben%2BGlasgow%2BMacclesfield%2BTown%2Bv%2BStoke%2B City%2B0dcayJTNSG2l.jpg

Premier Division - Arsenal v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Andy Wilkinson, Ryan Inniss, Maurice Edu (Villyan Bijev), Steven N'Zonzi, Julien Ngoy, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Valentino Lazaro (Gary Gardner), Andreas Cornelius, Mikey Drennan.

Hopes of a first win of the season perhaps wouldn't start just yet as Arsenal were next away from home. Adam Thompson joined Charles Dunne on the sidelines which saw Maurice Edu drafted into the defence while Charles Banya was rested to give 18 year old Julien Ngoy a surprise debut on the right wing. By all accounts, Ngoy had done well at Gloucester on loan last season with 8 goals and 18 assists in 25 games and I hoped he would have an impact given that Arsenal may not know what to expect from him. They had strengthened their squad by adding Rodrigo Palacio to last season's signings of Kevin De Bruyne, Ashley Cole, Joe Allen, James Milner and Daniel Agger! It took just five minutes for Palacio to score his first Arsenal goal before Agger was sent off two minutes later for a reckless two footed challenge on Mikey Drennan to give us a good chance of a win. The problem was Wojciech Szczesny was in good form and after I had changed to three at the back by bringing on Villyan Bijev for the second half, the move didn't pay off as Mesut Ozil scored twice to make it 3-0.

My search for a left winger was over as Ryan Gauld was signed from Nottm Forest for £750K. They had signed the 19 year old forward capable of playing across the pitch for £325K two years ago and he'd been on my radar ever since. His time comes to an end with just 34 games and 4 goals to speak of and Gauld turned down a move to Russia's Spartak Moscow to come to Stoke. Meanwhile, heading out is James Campbell who joins Morecambe for £500K after 17 appearances last season. Attempts to sign Juan Cruz Mascia were denied as he turned us down in favour of a move to Getafe upon the expiration of his contract next June. A bid from Sunderland was also rejected for Valentino Lazaro who I have no intention of selling.

Premier Division - Newcastle v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Marc Wilson, Ryan Inniss, Steven N'Zonzi, Julien Ngoy (Gary Gardner), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Anthony Watt), Villyan Bijev, Ryan Gauld.

After an international break and a lot of transfer activity, we resumed league duties at Newcastle where Charles Dunne was back in the team and Marc Wilson was given a first start after a poor showing from Maurice Edu at Arsenal. Julien Ngoy had done well at Arsenal so kept his place with new signing Ryan Gauld starting on the left for Mikey Drennan who had been injured in the previous game. Andreas Cornelius had come back from duty with Denmark (for whom he'd scored) unfit so his place was given to Villyan Bijev who also scored for Bulgaria. This game reminded me very much of the win at the end of last season that kept us up as we started very well, had a penalty shout stupidly turned down when Jake Livermore clearly took away Valentino Lazaro's legs in the box and kept Tim Krul busy. However, rather than getting the goal, we suddenly went 2-0 down with Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye both scoring. Ryan Gauld did pull one back as he had a great debut but we weren't able to find a second goal.

Premier Division - Stoke v Wigan
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi (Marc Wilson), Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Charles Banya), Andreas Cornelius (Byron Lawrence), Mikey Drennan.

It was time now to get our first win of the season as we welcomed Wigan to the Brit. Their squad didn't look to have a lot of quality in it yet they managed promotion from the First Division last year so you could say that our squad should be a good match for them. With Adam Thompson back from injury, I had my first choice back four back together again as Marc Wilson dropped to the bench. There were also returns for Mikey Drennan and Andreas Cornelius with the injured Julien Ngoy allowed Ryan Gauld to move from left to right wing. I had a lot of belief that we could win our first game but by half-time, it had evaporated with goals from Tanju Kayhan and Shaun Maloney giving Wigan a 2-0 lead that left the fans booing the players at half-time and chanting "Henderson OUT!". The hair dryer treatment followed and by the 74th minute, it was all smiles again as goals from Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Andreas Cornelius completed a fantastic comeback and 3-2 win.


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League Cup, First Round - Exeter v Stoke
Jordan Pickford, Tommy Toth, Callum Bennett, Alex Grant, Ben Heneghan, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Pennant (Luke Young), Jordan Keane, Josh Carson, Adam Thomas (Kenwyne Jones), Gary Gardner.

Exeter away in the League Cup was a break from the pressures of league football and despite Exeter being 3rd in the League Cup, I named a completely different side as those in the shop window had the chance to attract potential buyers and for some, it was a chance of rescuing their own Stoke careers. It seemed to work as Adam Thomas grabbed a first professional goal after 13 minutes but Exeter tied the game two minutes later through Jimmy Keohane before adding further goals by Johnnie Jackson and Andy Brown as Jordan Pickford suffered a nightmare and looked a completely different player to how he had played last season. Things improved in the second half but we just didn't find the goal and crashed out of a competition that we'd won only 16 months ago. The game served one purpose for me, proof that most of these lads were absolutely useless!

The plan seemed to work though as three players departed within a week of each other. Jordan Richardson sealed a £500K move to Swindon as like Glasgow and Campbell before him, his value was more but I had to cash in to get him off the books. One of the veterans was also sold as Celtic snapped up Andy Wilkinson on the cheap for £500K while I moved on one of my own signings for the first time as Tommy Toth left in a £100K switch to Preston which ended a spell of just four games since he arrived for £30K. With the trio leaving, there was one arriving as Ryan Fraser joined for £120K from Bournemouth, rejecting a move to Yeovil in the process. A winger who could play on both flanks, I don't expect the same impact as Ryan Gauld from a player who is also a Scottish winger.

Premier Division - Middlesbrough v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne (Marc Wilson), Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi, Charles Banya, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Gary Gardner), Mikey Drennan (Byron Lawrence), Andreas Cornelius, Ryan Gauld.

My first team choices were all reinstated to the line-up for the trip to Middlesbrough with Charles Banya coming in as Valentino Lazaro had picked up an injury against Wigan that ruled him out for a couple of weeks. Ryan Gauld was back on the left flank and Mikey Drennan moved inside as I hoped Gauld continued his fine start. He certainly did that with a goal after five minutes and another after 33 minutes to make it 4 from 3 games since arriving! The entire team were doing well but that didn't stop Lukas Jutkiewicz from pulling one back although Andreas Cornelius won a penalty for us from which Gauld converted for a fantastic hat-trick!

Premier Division - Stoke vs Man City
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne , Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi, Charles Banya, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Mikey Drennan (Villyan Bijev), Andreas Cornelius, Ryan Gauld (Julien Ngoy).

We had a tough test now with the champions coming to town and after a great performance at Middlesbrough, I couldn't make any changes even with the arrival of Ryan Fraser and the return of Julien Ngoy from injury. Man City started strongly but Andreas Cornelius shocked them with a header in the 26th minute before Edin Dzeko tied it before half time. Ryan Gauld wasn't having any luck in this game and the quality of Man City shone through in the end with Jeremain Lens and Steven Jovetic wrapped up an easy 3-1 win for them.

The defeat left us 15th in the table after we had pulled away from the bottom three with the wins over Wigan and Middlesbrough. Ryan Gauld's incredible impact was marked by the announcement that he'd won the Young Player of the Month award for September which was hugely deserved!

kuy
14-01-14, 12:32 PM
The Dundee Messi's having a cracking start for you! Shows that even if you're restricted to buying youth, there is some quality out there

Kingsley
14-01-14, 01:17 PM
Gauld is a cracking signing.

Interested that Anthony Watt isn't getting a game for you. I have him in my Scotland squad and on paper he looks the business, but for somereason he just fails to deliver.

Gauld should be enough to haul you into midtable mediocrity and I bet it isn't the last time that he gets a manager of the month award

Mark
14-01-14, 01:55 PM
The Dundee Messi's having a cracking start for you! Shows that even if you're restricted to buying youth, there is some quality out there

That's what I'm aiming to do from now on. Be a bit more selective instead of buying players willy nilly. It helps that I'm starting to shift a lot of players too although I've had to sell most for less than their worth but at the end of the day, I've still managed a profit on them!


Gauld is a cracking signing.

Interested that Anthony Watt isn't getting a game for you. I have him in my Scotland squad and on paper he looks the business, but for somereason he just fails to deliver.

Gauld should be enough to haul you into midtable mediocrity and I bet it isn't the last time that he gets a manager of the month award

By the time I picked up Gauld as a scout, I missed the boat as he had already gone to Nottm Forest. Surprisingly, they hadn't been playing him so I was delighted to get my man this time around!

Watt does look good and in the few games he played for the U21's last season before I merged the squads together, he did well. Not quite given him a run of games just yet as Cornelius is starting to come good and I've kind of pledged to give Bijev a few games as well as the no.2 choice striker. Watt is effectively 3rd in line though.

BobMem
14-01-14, 02:11 PM
Never again...

Really?...


Stoke City - Season 3 - The Beginning

...didn't think you were retiring :lol:

Well done on staying up, and forcing all of us to come with you on the nerve-wracking journey!

Mark
14-01-14, 02:21 PM
It was a kind of a "hope I never have to go through such a nerve wrecking experience, going down the last minute" kind of thing :D

Who wants to win the league every year anyway? :lol:

Kingsley
14-01-14, 03:28 PM
Stoke City, judging by the performance against Liverpool :whistle:

Mark
14-01-14, 03:32 PM
Stoke City - Season 3 - A Shaky Start
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


Believe it or not, our start to the season of two wins, a draw and four defeats is actually my best start to a season in charge of Stoke! The first year at the club saw us pick up 1 win and three draws whereas last season saw just one win in the first seven games! So perhaps things weren't altogether that bad and admittedly, being beaten by Exeter made things seem worse than they actually were.

I was hoping that the selections so far this season were allowing the squad to grow and the players to gel with each other. I'd only signed three players (Max Oberschmidt, Ryan Gauld and Ryan Fraser) with only Gauld making an appearance and what an appearance he has made as he has scored five goals in four games since arriving for just £750K. After a slow start, Andreas Cornelius looks to have got going now with two goals and two assists in the last three games while we've not seen the best of Mikey Drennan or Valentino Lazaro yet with the latter being the subject of a £6.5M bid from Boca Juniors which has perhaps put his mind off his game.

There was work to do in the remainder of the squad though. Jack Butland is firmly my number one but has conceded 14 in 7 games and needs better protection from his defenders with Ryan Inniss, Kevin Gomez, Adam Thompson and Charles Dunne needing to improve on their efforts to date. The defence is definitely a weak spot in the squad though and needs improvement and even more so after I have sold five defenders recently although they weren't particularly good anyway! I have eyes and ears out there in search of new talent though and will continue looking to flog players with 41 players still on the books and 22 of them transfer listed.

Premier Division - Stoke v West Brom
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi (Maurice Edu), Julien Ngoy, Byron Lawrence, Mikey Drennan, Andreas Cornelius, Ryan Gauld.

With Ryan Tunnicliffe looking a bit fatigued, Byron Lawrence was given his first start while Julien Ngoy started ahead of Charles Banya who had been inconsistent this season. We'd conceded two goals against Wigan which I had hit the roof about and I was furious that goals from Andros Townsend and Anthony Stokes put West Brom 2-0 up after just 19 minutes. Thankfully, instead of receiving a dressing down at half-time, the players tied the game by then with goals from that man Ryan Gauld and Andreas Cornelius. If only we could have kept that going in the second half but it wasn't to be as Youssouf Mulumbu scored with a header that was the last touch of the game.

Three more players left the Britannia and one of the sanctioned deals was a tough one for me to consider. Firstly, Luke Young joined Leyton Orient for £150K in a transfer which saw us recoup the money spent on him after he'd played 9 times without scoring and failing to impress. The other was Jordan Pickford who joined Sheff Utd for £575K which is a small profit on the £140K that I spent on him last year. It was difficult to let Pickford go after he did well, managing two MoM awards in 18 games but he had conceded 28 goals and the coaching staff weren't convinced that he had what it takes to push Jack Butland all the way. The third was Cameron Jerome who signed for Huddersfield for £500K. He played 33 times for me, scoring 12 goals which wasn't a bad return but as a senior player, I always had plans to let him go.


http://www.stokecityfc.com/cms_images/player/jerome2226-515987_478x359.jpg

Premier Division - Tottenham v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne (Alex Grant), Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi, Ryan Gauld, Byron Lawrence (Ryan Tunnicliffe), Valentino Lazaro (Charles Banya), Andreas Cornelius, Mikey Drennan.

After the cruel blow of the late West Brom winner, I was tempted to stick with the same side that did play well but I wasn't sure whether to pick Julien Ngoy and Byron Lawrence again. In the end, Lawrence kept his place with Ryan Tunnicliffe put on the bench while I brought back Valentino Lazaro who had returned from injury as the midfield three shuffled about with Mikey Drennan moving to the left and Ryan Gauld to the right. The first half was incredible as Mikey Drenna finally got off the mark with his first goal of the season and Andreas Cornelius made it 4 from 8 just before the half-time whistle. But it then became a game of two halves as Tottenham upped the tempo with their 20 year old star Souleymane Coulibaly scoring before Etienne Capoue levelled matters. Valentino Lazaro had disappointed once again and was replaced as we saw out the game to earn a decent point despite losing the two goal lead.

Considering my stance on refusing offers for Valentino Lazaro (Club Brugge had now tabled a £7M offer for him), I was getting very frustrated with his performances on the pitch which was starting to make me wonder whether his future was actually at Stoke City. In 6 games, he had only managed 1 assist and had an average rating of 6.00! I pledged to give him a run of games and intend to give him until his 10th appearance before making a decision on his future. It must be remembered that he is only 19 but all the transfer talk was turning his head and he had not been happy at my recently rejected offers.

Premier Division - Stoke v Fulham
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Ryan Inniss (Alex Grant), Adam Thompson, Steven N'Zonzi, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Charles Banya), Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

As pledged, Valentino Lazaro was started for the visit of Fulham while Ryan Tunnicliffe was swapped into the team for Byron Lawrence who'd had a quiet game at Spurs. Charles Dunne had suffered a torrid time in that game but he was up against the pace of Aaron Lennon which is never easy and I kept him at left-back but knew in my head that he needed a lot of work to earn that place permanently. It seemed as though every team had a player under the age of 22 who starred against us and this time Fulham's Anass Achahbar put them ahead but Mikey Drennan found a way past Maarten Stekelenburg as the game went from end to end. Lazaro was showing signs of his quality and was only taken off due to a groin complaint but before then, we had gone 3-1 up with goals once again from Andreas Cornelius (his 5th) and Ryan Gauld (his 7th in 7 games!) as we rounded out a great team performance.

There was a 15th player leaving the Britannia Stadium as Steven N'Zonzi completed a move to Germany after Nurnberg paid £3M for him. He was definitely worth a lot more but I was mindful that he was out of contract in 8 months time so for that reason, we got a good deal really. It wasn't easy to let him go though and I actually delayed the transfer in order for him to play against Fulham and to give me time to find a replacement as I didn't have a natural defensive midfielder in the squad (other than Maurice Edu and Marc Wilson who I tend to play in defence). I did find one and for £1M from Newcastle and just days before he turned 22, Gael Bigirimana will hopefully slot right into the side for a player that was a firm favourite with 68 games and an average rating of 7.35.

Premier Division - Liverpool v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Ryan Inniss (Alex Grant), Adam Thompson, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld (Charles Banya), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro, Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

It was going to be something of a baptism of fire for Gael Bigirimana's debut which takes place at Anfield where Luis Suarez was still running the show with 9 goals in 9 games in the Premier Division. He turned that tally into 11 in 10 by the end of this game after putting Liverpool two goals to the good before Ryan Tunnicliffe pulled one back. His strike partner Daniel Sturridge was in just as good form though as he added one of his own to secure a 3-1 win for the hosts.


http://i4.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article1134861.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Gael%2520Bigirimana-1134861

Kevin Gomez and Ryan Inniss had both been torn apart by the S&S partnership and it raised concerns once again over whether the current back four were actually good enough for his level. Each of them had played well in the odd game but there always seemed to be at least one of them that played badly in each game and it was clear that we needed more defensive steel in the squad. Especially when you look at my options and see that only Dunne, Inniss and Adam Thompson are players that I have signed. With that in mind, I added a new player to the squad as Semi Ajayi arrived on a free transfer after being released by Arsenal back in the Summer. He did play 7 times for the Gunners so has some experience at this level and hopefully will form a good partnership with Ryan Inniss with plans to use Adam Thompson as a substitute. A £4.5M bid for PSV's right-back Joshua Brenet was accepted but the player himself rejected the idea of talks with us and instead joined Anderlecht.

Premier Division - Stoke v Brighton
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Seyi Ajayi, Ryan Inniss, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Valentino Lazaro (Charles Banya), Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

Liverpool had been a quiet performance for a few players so I hoped they'd get back to some good form for the visit of Brighton with Seyi Ajayi handed his home debut along with Gael Bigirimana making his home debut after enduring a tough game at Liverpool where he had been booked. The surprise was that I had made Ajayi the captain of the team as he had demonstrated great leadership qualities in training and with Inniss having a tough few games, I hoped it would take the pressure off for my England under-21 player. That decision seemed to work as although Brighton took an early lead through Jay Spearing, the defence had to be strong and all (Butland included) came out of the game with a rating of 7. At the other end, it was another below par performance from Valentino Lazaro who now had one game to come good while Gael Bigirimana was named as man of the match as we only managed an equaliser in the very last minute. It came as a result of ex-Potter Glenn Whelan jumping with Villyan Bijev but leading with an elbow that won us a penalty from which Bijev himself took to score his first goal of the season and earn us a point.

£690K was raised by the sale of two more defenders as I let go Alex Grant, Manny Parry and David Symington. Grant returned home to Australia in a £50K deal to Melbourne Victory while Parry joined Millwall for £400K which was a great deal for a player who got 5.67 from 3 games last season! I expected more for Grant who had been half decent but it wasn't to be. Symington was a £30K signing last season and scored twice in seven games but often looked out of his depth in the top tier and joins Rochdale for £200K. The fourth player to depart was Thomas Sorensen who will see out his career at Leyton Orient after they paid £40K for him. I wished him the very best of luck in the Second Division after he was mostly my number one for 69 games, conceding 87 goals.

Premier Division - Stoke v Q.P.R.
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Seyi Ajayi, Ryan Inniss, Gael Bigirimana (Marc Wilson), Ryan Gauld (Charles Banya), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro, Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

Returning from an international break where my time was spent scouting at least a dozen players, I named an unchanged line-up for our second consecutive home game in the league. We suffered a blow after 6 minutes when Gael Bigirimana pulled up with a nasty looking knee injury which I hoped wasn't serious as Marc Wilson took his place. But on his 10th appearance of the season after indicating I'd be giving him 10 games to prove his worth, Valentino Lazaro finally found the net with a first half strike that sealed all three points. Man of the Match was Seyi Ajayi who looked to be a real find.

Fortunately, Gael Bigirimana only twisted his knee so would be out for two weeks which meant he'd be missing for games against Swansea and Everton. It did raise the question that I needed more defensive midfielders in the squad as cover for him but for the meantime, I would have to use either Marc Wilson or Maurice Edu in the role.


http://news.images.itv.com/image/file/163944/article_b295aa11214214d8_1361179565_9j-4aaqsk.jpeg

Premier Division - Stoke v Swansea
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Seyi Ajayi, Ryan Inniss, Marc Wilson (Maurice Edu), Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Charles Banya), Andreas Cornelius, Mikey Drennan (Villyan Bijev).

An unusual third home game on the trot saw just one change with Marc Wilson filling in for the injured Gael Bigirimana. I considered giving Andreas Cornelius a rest and a rare start for Villyan Bijev but decided to stick with the other 10 players that got us the win over Q.P.R. We started brightly with a goal from Ryan Tunnicliffe disallowed before Andreas Cornelius did score legally past Michel Vorm. But Colombian Jackson Martinez equalised after the break as Swansea fought back with Damien Perquis handing them the lead. Marc Wilson was a disappointment as I took him off and threw on Villyan Bijev up front with Cornelius to find an equaliser that never came.

Premier Division - Everton v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Seyi Ajayi (Marc Wilson), Maurice Edu, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Valentino Lazaro, Andreas Cornelius (Anthony Watt), Mikey Drennan.

Four points from three games at home isn't a great return which is at least two points less than I had expected before we were on our travels again to Everton. Maurice Edu this time played in the anchor role in front of the back four while there was a rare appearance for Anthony Watt on the bench after Villyan Bijev picked up a training injury. Watt got on the pitch for the final seven minutes without being able to get a shot at Lukasz Fabianski. James McCarthy had put Everton ahead before Andreas Cornelius's 7th goal of the season levelled the game. Uncharacteristically, a horror tackle from Leighton Baines on Mikey Drennan earned him a red card and the Irishman got up to continue the game and score the winning goal for a very valuable three points.

The win at Everton was our 5th of the season after we had drawn three and lost seven games of the first 15 games of the season. That left us 16th in the table with 18 points, 5 points from the bottom three that currently comprised of Sunderland, Wigan and Q.P.R. which just goes to show that the wins over the latter two were valuable!

Mark
14-01-14, 03:33 PM
Stoke City, judging by the performance against Liverpool :whistle:

:lol: Touché!

Kingsley
14-01-14, 04:51 PM
You have met a few of the top sides so perhas a bit of consistency might come with games against those around and below you. Quite a turnover of players and I am guessing some more defence minded players might be arriving soon. That certainly looks to be the problem area.

Mark
14-01-14, 05:04 PM
I am hoping for reinforcements in that area, definitely. I have 10 defenders on the books now with Wilson, Edu, Heneghan, Shotton and Bennett five players that I'm still trying to shift. Ajayi has been great though, 7.25 from 4 games and man of the match once already. I've been very impressed by him and possibly just need cover at fullback now.

The media are being a bit critical of Jack Butland as well (7.00 avR in 15 games but has conceded 27) which I find unfair given what he has in front of him. But I've no intention of replacing him at all.

Kingsley
14-01-14, 05:14 PM
Just find Jack his stolen car and he'll be happy

Redknapp69
14-01-14, 06:23 PM
Hmmm - Pickford conceeded 28 in 18 games and gets transferred while the older Butland conceeded 27 in 15 with arguably a better defence (from the signings you made) has the number 1 spot!
Still think it was harsh to get rid if Pickford but I'm over it now :)

Cornelius and Gauld look a good partnership

Liverpool and Swans winning - whoop! (Sorry!)

What's the crack with reserves now - Ass Man managing them?
How many out on loan and are they doing well?

Mark
15-01-14, 11:10 AM
Just find Jack his stolen car and he'll be happy

The kid doesn't need such a flash car at his age anyway.

*Make sure Audi keys are hidden in back pocket...*


Hmmm - Pickford conceeded 28 in 18 games and gets transferred while the older Butland conceeded 27 in 15 with arguably a better defence (from the signings you made) has the number 1 spot!
Still think it was harsh to get rid if Pickford but I'm over it now :)

Cornelius and Gauld look a good partnership

Liverpool and Swans winning - whoop! (Sorry!)

What's the crack with reserves now - Ass Man managing them?
How many out on loan and are they doing well?

I merged the reserves together with the first team so there is no longer a reserve squad. I'm not sending players out on loan anymore either as the squad's at a point now where I do need the younger lads now.

Mark
15-01-14, 11:49 AM
Stoke City - Season 3 - The Big Guns
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


We were now going to go through a stern test for my young squad over the next month with games against Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal on the horizon. Having cut the squad down to 35 players with 14 still on the transfer list, I felt that my overhaul was going quite well. There was also the big dilemma on my mind about Valentino Lazaro with Wolfsburg seeing a £5M offer turned down as he started to make noises that he wanted to leave. The 19 year old had scored once and managed an assist in 12 games and for someone of his talents, I did expect better. I was starting to come round to the idea of letting him go but only if I received an offer of substantial value for his services as he was still tied down to us for another 4 years.

Premier Division - Southampton v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne (Marc Wilson), Seyi Ajayi, Ryan Inniss, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Villyan Bijev), Andreas Cornelius, Mikey Drennan (Ryan Fraser).

After a fantastic win at Goodison Park, I was hoping that we'd repeat the feat at Southampton with Gael Bigirimana passing a late fitness test to oust Maurice Edu from the starting eleven while along with a returning Villyan Bijev on the bench, Ryan Fraser was included for Charles Banya for the first time since arriving from Bournemouth three months ago. We had the advantage from the 19th minute when Artur Boruc was sent off for bringing down Seyi Ajayi inside the box. The captain himself stood up to take the spotkick and converted but for one reason or another, we never made the extra man count as Southampton pulled the game back twice with Morgan Schneiderlin cancelling Ajay's goal out bfore Pablo Osvaldo then cancelled out a goal by Valentino Lazaro! It was a very quiet journey home for me as I struggled to work out why we were going home with one point instead of three.

Rejecting a move to L'Hospitalet, Fulham's former graduate Dino Islamovic joined us on a free transfer after his release five months ago. The 21 year old striker has been capped 5 times for Montenegro and scored three times although he never managed a game for Fulham's senior side. I imagine he will eventually get his chance with us but for now, he had hard work to do in battling for a spot with 9 other players (although 5 are not wanted).

Premier Division - Stoke v Man Utd
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Seyi Ajayi, Ryan Innis (Marc Wilson), Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Fraser (Charles Banya), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro, Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

It was a tough move but left out of the team was Ryan Gauld who had been a bit quiet since he had scored 7 in 7 games and had now gone 6 games without scoring. In truth, he was exhausted and it was no surprise really. I couldn't decide who to replace him with out of Ryan Fraser, Charles Banya and Julien Ngoy and in the end, I handed a first start to Ryan Fraser which was the only change to the team for a tough visit of Man Utd who were shockingly, 10th in the league especially after resigning Cristiano Ronaldo for £20M as well as adding Arturo Vidal to the squad for £22.5M! Both played at the Brit but it was Antonio Valencia who set up the first goal for Danny Welbeck before Ronaldo made it 2-0. A mistake by Charles Dunne led to a penalty to which Ronaldo converted his 15th in all competitions this season already. The scoreline was harsh though as the young lads did match the Manchester side in shots but just had David de Gea in top form.

Then came two strikers leaving the clubas Bolton snapped up Switzerland striker Karim Rossi for £525K which went quite unnoticed for a player who has scored once in 3 games. £325K was also raised for Kenwyne Jones who had been on the decline for the past 18 months, rattling up just 6 goals in 21 games and joins MK Dons. Naturally, I was happy to see the back of two strikers as well which reduced my choices for the position to 8 with three still on the list.

Premier Division - Sunderland v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Marc Wilson, Seyi Ajayi, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Ryan Inniss), Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Mikey Drennan.

After a good start to life as a partnership, the duo of Seyi Ajayi and Ryan Inniss was beginning to look frail and I looked to address that by bringing Marc Wilson into the fold as a left footer with Seyi Ajayi on the right side of the central defence. After his rest, Ryan Gauld was back in the side as I hoped the break did him good in order to help us to a result at Sunderland who were bottom of the league. As at Sunderland, we found ourselves with the extra man after Jack Colback was sent off on the 17th minute for tripping Andreas Cornelius as the last man. But I was furious with Gael Bigirimana who was sent off himself just six minutes later and even more so when Sunderland scored straight away through Craig Bryson. Thankfully, Charles Dunne scored his first ever goal in response within a few minutes before Cornelius was stretchered off after a knee collision and then Mikey Drennan made it 2-1 to us. All this was in the first half! Sunderland equalised with a stunner from Lewis McGugan before losing a player to injury themselves (Ignasi Miquel) before Ryan Tunnicliffe swung the game back in our favour only for McGugan to score again to ensure the points were shared. Bloody hell!

Premier Division - Stoke v Chelsea
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez (Adam Thompson), Charles Dunne, Ryan Inniss, Seyi Ajayi, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Valentino Lazaro (Julien Ngoy), Villyan Bijev (Anthony Watt), Mikey Drennan.

If that's the way we defend against Sunderland, then I shudder to think what Chelsea's attackers will do to us! The move to put Marc Wilson on the left side of the defence backfired completely as he was found wanting for two of the Sunderland goals and I instantly dropped him and put Ryan Inniss back in the team. Elsewhere, Villyan Bijev started for just the second time this season due to Andreas Cornelius being injured with strained knee ligaments. It took 20 minutes for Chelsea to register their first shot as Eden Hazard sent one wide but with their first shot on target, Romelu Lukaku scored on the 37th minute with a header that cancelled out Ryan Tunnicliffe's opener on the 12th minute which had been his 5th of the season. The second shot on target also went in for Chelsea with Lukaku scoring again before Oscar made it 3-1. Naturally, I was gutted having taken the lead and actually being the better side up until Lukaku's 2nd goal. Anthony Watt did come off the bench to score his first Stoke goal in the end which saw the final score as Stoke 2 - 4 Chelsea.

In the aftermath of the Chelsea defeat, there were comments made to the media from Valentino Lazaro which meant that his time at Stoke was up. He was angling for a move away and made it clear that he wanted to move abroad and I was fuming with the lad. Whether it was his agent dangling the carrot or all of the bids received this season had messed his head up but he was now out of chances and I placed on the transfer list but insisted that I would only accept bids of £10M for him. In the meantime, he wouldn't play for me again.

Premier Division - Stoke v Arsenal
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne (Adam Thompson), Ryan Inniss, Seyi Ajayi, Maurice Edu, Ryan Gauld (Julien Ngoy), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Gary Garnder, Villyan Bijev (Anthony Watt), Mikey Drennan.

Gael Bigirimana's red card at Sunderland meant that he had to serve a three match suspension and despite my efforts to sign Croatian Dino Hotic before Arsenal came to town, I had to start with Maurice Edu while Valentino Lazaro was dropped as promised as replaced by Gary Gardner who had the chance to repeat the heroics of his debut season where 11 goals were scored in 25 games. Jack Butland was also given the armband as Arsenal just took over the Britannia Stadium with their football play. Joe Allen scored after 16 minutes and although Villyan Bijev equalised, Ryo Miyaichi put the game back in Arsenal's favour before ex-Gunner Semi Ajayi tied the game once more. But the hearts of Stoke fans were broken when Mesut Ozil wrapped up the game for the visitors as the defeat means that we've now gone 5 games without a win.

I thought the price tag for Valentino Lazaro would put a few teams off which wasn't the intention but after Wolfsburg made an enquiry to which they ran a mile, it turns out that Valentino Lazaro would be moving to Germany after all with Hertha BSC agreeing to pay the £10M price tag in full while we also had a clause included that entitled us to 25% of his next transfer fee, if any. That brought a disappointing spell at Stoke to an end of the 1 time capped Austrian who was my most expensive signing at the time for £2.6M. He scored four goals in 26 games and I have no doubt that if he gets his head right, he will end up being a great player for someone.

Premier Division - West Brom v Stoke
Jack Butland, Adam Thompson, Kevin Gomez, Ryan Inniss, Seyi Ajayi, Marc Wilson, Julien Ngoy (Charles Banya), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Mikey Drennan, Villyan Bijev (Anthony Watt), Ryan Gauld.

The game against Arsenal was a Boxing Day fixture so there were a few tired legs for the short journey to the Hawthorns. Maurice Edu and Gary Gardner were two dropped due to their fitness while I also decided to drop Charles Dunne with Kevin Gomez moving from right back to left back which saw Adam Thompson line up on the right. As the only option to replace Edu, Marc Wilson played defensive midfield while Mikey Drennan moved from the left to the middle to cover Gardner with Ryan Gauld moving to the left wing and Julien Ngoy starting on the right. Youssouf Mulumbu was the man who broke our hearts earlier this season when his last minute winner won the game for West Brom 3-2 at The Brit and he was at it again with an early goal for them here before Anthony Stokes doubled their lead. We hardly had a look-in as the defence couldn't get their act together and it really was an area I needed (and was trying) to strengthen.

FA Cup, 3rd Round - Alfreton v Stoke
Jack Butland, Callum Bennett (Semi Ajayi), Marc Wilson, Ben Heneghan, Ryan Inniss, Maurice Edu (Jack Sampson), Jermaine Pennant (Julien Ngoy), Jordan Keane, Josh Carson, Adam Thomas, Ryan Fraser.

Even though completely changing the squad around had cost us progress in the League Cup with defeat at Exeter earlier this season, I decided to do the same again for this FA Cup match at Alfreton feeling that playing a non-league side was a different prospect to a team that was battling for promotion in the Third Division. At least the side I picked had Jack Butland, Ryan Inniss and Ryan Fraser as three players that were part of my first team with the experience of Marc Wilson, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Pennant to help the other lads who were all transfer listed players. As it happened, the back four were hopeless (Wilson excepted) as Heneghan, Inniss and Bennett played like Sunday league footballers with Alfreton winning 3-2, taking the lead before a Jordan Keane equaliser and then going 3-1 up before Fraser scored his first goal for us. The positives were the two goalscorers had done well, the negatives was that Inniss was starting to look as though he's a liability now with three 5 ratings in a row which is a shame as he started the season so well.

Before the next game, a senior figure was let go for just £100K as Maurice Edu joined Chivas USA after 67 games for me. That left 32 players on the books now with Marc Wilson and Gael Bigirimana the only defensive midfielders available which stepped up the pursuit of Dino Hotic from Maribor.

Premier Division - Aston Villa v Stoke
Jack Butland, Kevin Gomez, Charles Dunne, Semi Ajayi, Adam Thompson (Ryan Inniss), Marc Wilson, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Byron Lawrence), Gary Gardner, Andreas Cornelius (Villyan Bijev), Ryan Fraser.

We'd now gone seven games without a win and it was starting to show in the squad. Ryan Fraser kept his place on the wing after he played well at Alfreton which saw Mikey Drennan drop to the bench as Aston Villa's Matthew Lowton scored first before Ryan Gauld finally got a goal after going 10 games without one to equalise. But goals in the last 20 minutes by Diego Fabbrini and Karim El Ahmadi secured a 3-1 win for the Villains.

Premier Division - Stoke v Newcastle
Max Oberschmidt, Ryan Shotton, Kevin Gomez, Semi Ajayi, Adam Thompson, Gael Bigirimana, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Lucas Dawson), Mikey Drennan, David Moberg Karlsson (Anthony Watt), Ryan Fraser.

In an effort to stop the rot and an 8 match winless streak, I decided to freshen the team up for the visit of Newcastle as Gael Bigirimana gave us a boost by returning from injury in time to face his ex-employers. There were also first starts of the season for Max Oberschmidt, Ryan Shotton and David Moberg Karlsson with the goalkeeper making his debut. Reinstated to the side, Mikey Drennan cancelled out a Papiss Cisse opener only for Mathieu Debuchy to win it for Newcastle as the defeat set a club record of 6 games lost in a row.

Premier Division - Stoke v Norwich
Max Oberschmidt, Ryan Shotton, Kevin Gomez, Semi Ajayi, Adam Thompson, Gael Bigirimana, Charles Banya (Jordan Keane), Ryan Tunnicliffe, Ryan Gauld, Villyan Bijev, Mikey Drennan.

The spell of playing the teams in the top half of the table was over and now we had to focus on getting a result against Norwich team two places and five points above us but we were making life incredibly difficult. Firstly, Ryan Gauld fouled Nathan Redmond in the box which allowed Steven Whittaker to score from the spot after just two minutes. Gauld made amends by equalising but a moment of madness from Ryan Tunnicliffe with a two footed challenge on Yanis Bahloul saw him sent off and Emmanuel Ighorae soon made it 2-1 to Norwich. From that point, it was backs to the wall as Redmond scored before Ighorae added another. We did have a late fightback with goals from Villyan Bijev and Mikey Drennan but it was too little, too late and we crashed to another defeat as Norwich won 4-3.

Ryan Gauld's 9th goal of the season a record for the club so it was nice to have some positives but it meant little in the grand scheme of things. The horrific run we were going through had left us 17th in the table as we had somehow not yet sunk into the bottom three but we were three points away from doing so as Sunderland lay 18th on 17 points while Wigan were 19th on 15 points and Q.P.R. were bottom on 14 points.

Something had to give sooner or later.

Kingsley
15-01-14, 12:20 PM
What a dreadfull run, not only in losses, but the number of goals you are shipping in. I make it 30 goals conceded in the last 10 games and twice you were playing for spells against 10 men. You must have the most supportive board ever. Is there any risk to your job on the horizon ?

Mark
15-01-14, 12:21 PM
There have been a few complains and I was actually slightly insecure over the Summer but the decent-ish start to the season cleared that away. It's not yet come back either, surprisingly!

We have conceded 53 goals in 24 games now and strangely enough, it's not the worst record in the league! Sunderland have shipped 57 while QPR have shipped 55!

Mark
15-01-14, 12:42 PM
In fact, the board keep telling me to sign a 30 year old David Nugent! I can only sign youngsters!

BobMem
15-01-14, 02:28 PM
Dreadful run, after a fairly positive update previously.

The one crumb you can take from it is you're not in the bottom 3! Unbelievable given the run of losses. There must be some sh*t teams.


Hmmm - Pickford conceeded 28 in 18 games and gets transferred while the older Butland conceeded 27 in 15 with arguably a better defence (from the signings you made) has the number 1 spot!
Still think it was harsh to get rid if Pickford but I'm over it now :)
I don't think you really are Redders! This obsession has to stop, it's not healthy!

Mark
15-01-14, 02:41 PM
Just for you redders, I'll keep you updated on Pickford's progress elsewhere to see whether I made the right decision or not :D

I was thinking that as well, BM. How on Earth can there be teams worst than us out there?! :D

ebfatz
15-01-14, 03:22 PM
You are for the chop if you keep this up bud!

Is January over yet?

If not, it's gonna be a case of go big or go home in the transfer market. It could be your only hope!

Mark
15-01-14, 05:32 PM
You are for the chop if you keep this up bud!

Is January over yet?

If not, it's gonna be a case of go big or go home in the transfer market. It could be your only hope!

We are just coming up to the end of January now so I've a couple of months until the transfer deadline comes.

I have looked at a few players and had a few bids accepted but must admit I pulled out of them in the end. I'm trying not to get into a panic and start buying a shed load of players when they may not actually make the grade which has happened to a lot of my signings so far (Signed 26, 5 have moved on and 3 are transfer listed).

If the right deals come up then I'll certainly add to the squad :ok:

Mark
15-01-14, 05:43 PM
Stoke City - Season 3 - Salvage Operation
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


You couldn't make it up, could you? After our best start to the season since I took charge of Stoke, we've pressed both hands (and feet!) on the big red self destruct button and have now gone 9 games without a win in the league as well as being knocked out at the first hurdle of the League Cup by a Third Division team and the FA Cup by a non-league team!

I wish I could say that performances were improving on the pitch but it's not really the case. The defence were playing horrendously to a point where I considered changing to a new look formation but I decided to continue as we were.

Premier Division - Stoke v Middlesbrough
Max Oberschmidt 9, Ryan Shotton 7 (Marc Wilson 7), Kevin Gomez 6, Semi Ajayi 7, Adam Thompson 8, Gael Bigirimana 7, Julien Ngoy 7 (Charles Banya 7), Jordan Keane 7, Gary Gardner 6, Villyan Bijev 7 (David Moberg Karlsson 8), Mikey Drennan 8.

My insistence on selecting the players that I actually wanted at the club had been abanonded a few games ago which saw Ryan Shotton and Jordan Keane start against a promoted Middlesbrough side who were 13th in the table. What must that feel like?! You could feel the tension amongst the home supporters as they tried to rally the players to a win in a scrappy game. Max Oberschmidt and Jason Steele were both being kept busy as the game was a stalemate until the 65th minute when a breakthrough was found. It was Oberschmidt who was beaten as one time target Luke Williams poked the ball past him as Middlesbrough looked set to go home with the victory until on came David Moberg Karlsson who was teed up by Mikey Drennan to lash the ball home and save his side from defeat with his first ever goal. At least we had managed to end the run of 6 games of defeats.


http://i2.thejournal.co.uk/incoming/article5325791.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/David-Moberg-Karlsson-2-5325791.jpg
David Moberg Karlsson saves Stoke from defeat.

Premier Division - Man City v Stoke
Max Oberschmidt 8, Ryan Shotton 5, Kevin Gomez 5, Semi Ajayi 6, Adam Thompson 4, Gael Bigirimana 6, Ryan Gauld 7, Jordan Keane 7 (Byron Lawrence 6), Gary Gardner 7 (Julien Ngoy 8), David Moberg Karlsson 6 (Villyan Bijev 7), Mikey Drennan 7.

If there was any hope that the draw against Middlesbrough was the start of better things to come then we certainly had the toughest test out there to do so against a Man City side who were 2nd and 3 points behind Everton. After his equalising goal, David Moberg Karlsson started with Ryan Gauld also coming into the side as Villyan Bijev and Julien Ngoy dropped to the bench. We certainly gave them a scare at first with Semi Ajayi hitting the bar and Gauld testing Joe Hart with a good effort but Man City then went up the other end and scored courtesy of Edin Dzeko. That settled their nerves with Sergio Aguero adding a second in the second half but we were not out of the game, oh no! Julien Ngoy this time proved to be a supersub by scoring just four minutes after stepping on the pitch before Jordan Keane lashed home a surprise equaliser! We had picked up a point for the first time against Man City! Most importantly, we'd gone level with Brighton above us who did have two games in hand though.


http://cdn.klimg.com/merdeka.com/i/w/news/2013/07/03/214757/540x270/para-titan-eropa-antri-superkid-julien-ngoy.jpg
18 year old Julien Ngoy chooses a great time to score his first goal for Stoke which starts a comeback.

After a two month wait, the supporters were treated to a 7th signing of the season as Arsenal's centre midfielder Jack Jebb arrives for £275K. It's a cut-price deal for the 20 year old as his contract was up in the Summer. Jebb has had two great years out on loan spells for Barnsley and Reading and this season he caught the eye of a few clubs after being named as the First Division Young Player of the Month last month and I snapped him up right away. His arrival increases the competition in midfield with Byron Lawrence, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Lucas Dawson and Jordan Keane already on the books.

Premier Division - Wigan v Stoke
Max Oberschmidt 7, Ryan Shotton 7, Kevin Gomez 7 (Adam Thompson 7), Marc Wilson 7, Semi Ajayi 6, Gael Bigirimana 7, Julien Ngoy 7 (Gary Gardner 6), Jack Jebb 7, Ryan Gauld 9, David Moberg Karlsson 8, Mikey Drennan 8.

Jack Jebb goes straight into the team for a crucial away trip to Wigan who are four points behind us at 18th place. Julien Ngoy also starts with Gary Gardner dropping to the bench with Jordan Keane and Adam Thompson with the latter replaced by Marc Wilson. After a slow start to the game, we sprang into life in the final five minutes of the first half with David Moberg Karlsson rattling the bar with a fierce shot before Ryan Gauld's 10th goal of the season put us ahead. I was mindful that a second goal was needed though as it duly came from Mikey Drennan before Moberg Karlsson made it 3-0 in a fantastic win that moved us above Brighton into 16th place (who still had those two games in hand) but we'd distanced ourselves from Wigan by seven points now. The rarer clean sheet was also just our second of the season!


http://thepeoplesperson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/image.jpg
A 10th goal of the season from Ryan Gauld, who was also booked, put Stoke on the way to a 3-0 win.

Premier Division - Stoke v Liverpool
Max Oberschmidt 7, Adam Thompson 6 (Ryan Inniss 7), Kevin Gomez 6, Marc Wilson 5, Semi Ajayi 6, Gael Bigirimana 6, Julien Ngoy 6 (Charles Banya 7), Jack Jebb 7, Ryan Gauld 6, David Moberg Karlsson 7, Mikey Drennan 6.

Going three games unbeaten was a delightful stat which had lifted everybody up at the club and now we just had to keep it going. Liverpool at home was another tough match and hopefully we could surprise them as we had done at Man City. Ryan Shotton was omitted from the team with Adam Thompson taking his place at right-back which was the only change against Liverpool who'd beaten us 3-1 earlier this season and it was the last we'd see of Luis Suarez in a Liverpool shirt after he announced a deal to join Real Madrid in the Summer. Thank God as well as I had had enough of the S&S strike force as Danny Sturridge scored twice and Suarez himself grabbed another as Liverpool beat us 3-0.


http://www.thefa.com/~/media/images/thefa/website/people/players/england%20profiles/men%20u17s/2011-12/jack-jebb-w.ashx%3Fas%3D1%26w%3D620
Jack Jebb did impress the fans on his home debut despite losing 3-0.

Premier Division - Fulham v Stoke
Max Oberschmidt 6, Adam Thompson 5, Kevin Gomez 5, Marc Wilson 7, Semi Ajayi 5, Gael Bigirimana 7, Julien Ngoy 6 (Jack Butland 8), Jack Jebb 6, Mikey Drennan 8, Villyan Bijev 6 (David Moberg Karlsson 6), Charles Banya 7.

I'd have to do without Ryan Gauld who was injured in training for the game against Fulham which saw Charles Banya starting on the left wing with Mikey Drennan moving inside. David Moberg Karlsson was also swapped with Villyan Bijev who started as the lone striker. We'd managed a 3-1 win against Fulham at home this season but there was no repeat this time around. Last season, Bryan Ruiz had scored four against us and he was at it again this time with a hat-trick to two penalties given away by Max Oberschmidt who was booked for both. Muamer Tankovic added another goal to render Mikey Drennan's goal meaningless as we lost 4-1.


http://www.fulhamfc.com/-/media/Under%2018%20action%20shots/Max%20Oberschmidt/IMG_3868%20Max%20kids.ashx?w=690&h=200
Max Oberschmidt had a game to forget as he conceded two penalties and was sent off for his troubles.

Premier Division - Stoke v Tottenham
Jack Butland 6, Ryan Shotton 7, Charles Dunne 5, Marc Wilson 6, Semi Ajayi 5, Gael Bigirimana 9, Ryan Gauld 6 (Julien Ngoy 7), Jack Jebb 6, Mikey Drennan 9, David Moberg Karlsson 7, Charles Banya 7.

After two defeats, there were some changes to the team with Jack Butland replacing the suspended Max Oberschmidt while Ryan Shotton and Charles Dunne came in at full-back for Adam Thompson and Kevin Gomez. The fit again Ryan Gauld also lined up in place of Julien Ngoy whilst David Moberg Karlsson returned up front for Villyan Bijev. Spurs started strongly, going ahead through Nacer Chadli before Mikey Drennan equalised. Christian Eriksen restored their lead and Souleymane Coulibaly made it 3-1 to them by half-time. The game turned on its head with just under half an hour left after a late challenge from Chadli on Drennan which earned the scorer at red card. For the first time against 10 men, we actually started to use the man to our advantage and Jack Jebb soon pulled a goal back which as an ex-Arsenal player, he enjoyed! David Moberg Karlsson completed the comeback with a goal to make it 3-3 and despite there being 18 minutes left to play, the winner never came but at least we'd got a point.


http://greenscene.me/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/grahamburkenextgenseries.jpg
Mikey Drennan was subject of a horror challenge before leading the comeback against Spurs.

With 8 games left to play, we were 16th in the league with Brighton (having now played their games in hand) 17th and level on points with us on 26. Wigan were bottom and some 8 points behind while Sunderland were 19th and 6 points behind. Q.P.R. weren't far off either with 3 points between us and Brighton as we had some key games to play in the final run in.

At home we were going to play Southampton, Sunderland and Everton. But there were five away games with crucial games against Q.P.R. and Brighton as well as Swansea, Man Utd and Chelsea.

The last three games were against teams in the top five so we needed wins before we actually got to that stage otherwise it'd be a nervy end to the season... Again!

BobMem
16-01-14, 01:47 PM
Short odds on another nervous finish, I reckon!

Mark
16-01-14, 02:13 PM
Short odds on another nervous finish, I reckon!

Inclined to agree! Just needs wins against the teams around us before we play out the final 3 games!

Mark
16-01-14, 02:46 PM
Stoke City - Season 3 - Groundhog Day?
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


So the first five games of the final eight to play this season were all against teams in the lower half of the table with three of them against teams below Stoke in the table. That meant that it was critical, crucial, important, essential, decisive, necessary, imperative and VITAL that we got results against those three teams in particular.

The reason was simple. I vowed never to go through a relegation battle like we did last year and it looked as though the end of this season could very well go the same way! Hopefully we have enough about us to pick up the points needed and avoid all the tension when we have to play against Man Utd, Everton and Chelsea in our last three matches.

Premier Division - Q.P.R. v Stoke
Jack Butland 6, Ryan Shotton 6, Marc Wilson 6, Semi Ajayi 6, Adam Thompson 7, Gael Bigirimana 8, Ryan Gauld 8, Jordan Keane 7, Mikey Drennan 6 (Julien Ngoy 6), Villyan Bijev 8 (David Moberg Karlsson 7), Charles Banya 7.

With Max Oberschmidt still suspended, Jack Butland continued in goals and there was a change in defence with Charles Dunne making way for Adam Thompson to come into the team. There were two more changes as well as Jordan Keane replaced Jack Jebb and Villyan Bijev started ahead of David Moberg Karlsson. I was mindful that Gael Bigirimana and Ryan Gauld were one booking away from a suspension too and asked the pair to go easy to avoid a ban. We started well, playing with an assertiveness that saw us take the lead though Villyan Bijev only to see veteran defender James Collins equalise as the points were shared. Bigirimana meanwhile, was booked but oddly enough, hasn't been given a suspension.


http://www.ussoccer.com/~/media/5237cf5955b748eea698f3ae77622ba2.ashx?w=400&h=300
Villyan Bijev put Stoke in the lead with his 4th goal of the season at Q.P.R.

Premier Division - Stoke v Southampton
Jack Butland 9, Ryan Shotton 6, Marc Wilson 8, Semi Ajayi 8, Adam Thompson 7, Gael Bigirimana 9, Ryan Gauld 7 (Ryan Fraser 7), Jordan Keane 7 (Jack Jebb 7), Mikey Drennan 7, Villyan Bijev 8, Charles Banya 6.

Rather suprisingly, Southampton sacked Mauro Pochettino a couple of months ago with the team 11th in the table. Thank God Nicola Cortese isn't my boss! Max Oberschmidt sits out in the final game ban which sees Jack Butland play for a third game and there no changes at all as we attempt to gain ground on Norwich above us in the table. With our first shot at goal, we found the net as Villyan Bijev puts us ahead once again and despite spells of pressure from Southampton, the defence held firm with Butland and Gael Bigirimana starring to earn us a vital victory after Jordan Keane made it 2-0. Elsewhere, Brighton won their fixture to stay level with us on 30 points but there was a decent 5 point gap between us and Q.P.R. at 18th.


http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02781/butland_2781843b.jpg
Jack Butland was superb in claiming a clean sheet but could find Max Oberschmidt back in goal for the next game.

Premier Division - Brighton v Stoke
Max Oberschmidt 7, Ryan Shotton 5, Marc Wilson 5, Semi Ajayi 6, Adam Thompson 6, Gael Bigirimana 6 (Charles Dunne 7), Charles Banya 6 (Ryan Fraser 7), Jordan Keane 6, Mikey Drennan 7, Villyan Bijev 6, Ryan Gauld 7.

Now it was a another crunch game away from home as we duelled against Brighton. Max Oberschmidt returned from a three match ban to take over from Jack Butland despite his clean sheet. Butland's 4 goals conceded prior to the Southampton game had gone against him so Oberschmidt gets the nod. A win would be great but a draw wouldn't be too bad here but we just had to try not to lose. But Brighton were the ones who started the better team as Biram Kayal scored and we didn't even have a shot at goal in the first 45 minutes. The first shot finally arrived amidst jeers from the Brighton supporters on the 60th minute when Villyan Bijev saw a header hit the crossbar. I had hoped that would spark us into life but it was not to be as Gareth Evans won the game for Brighton as we dropped to 17th. Thankfully, Q.P.R. had also lost so we still had the 5 point gap from the bottom three.


http://www.heraldscotland.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/spotlight_homepage/2013/10/22325955.jpg
Max Oberschmidt returned for his 8th start but was helpless to stop Brighton from winning 2-0.

Premier Division - Swansea v Stoke
Jack Butland 7, Ryan Shotton 7, Marc Wilson 7, Semi Ajayi 8, Adam Thompson 6, Gael Bigirimana 6 (Kevin Gomez 6), Charles Banya 7 (Ryan Fraser 7), Jordan Keane 7, Mikey Drennan 9, Villyan Bijev 9, Ryan Gauld 7.

Swansea away from home was the scene of great memories for the Stoke supporters as we had saved our Premiership status with a 2-0 win there on the last game of the season. However, they were a different prospect this year after Michael Laudrup had added Colombian duo James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez to his squad and they were responsible for beating us 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium earlier this season. There was again just one change to our team as the goalkeepers swapped around with Jack Butland back in the fold after being replaced by Max Oberschmidt at Brighton. Could lightning strike twice at The Liberty Stadium? It didn't look that way at first when Emmanuel Frimpong scored after two minutes but thankfully it was disallowed after Nathan Dyer had been found offside. That incident seemed to spark us into life as Villyan Bijev scored not once but twice to give Michel Vorm a torrid time. It wasn't over though as Wilfried Bony scored just seconds before the half-time whistle to show that Swansea were still in this game. After Villyan Bijev had a clear penalty shout waved away by the referee which left me furious, I was incensed even further by Swansea scoring immediately afterwards through Martinez who then added a second to complete a comeback for Swansea as they won 3-2. Players and fans alike were gutted as victory was snatched away by one controversial moment. A draw for Q.P.R. meant that we were now 4 points from the bottom three with four games left.


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Villyan Bijev took his tally for the season to 7 goals but it was in vain.

Premier Division - Stoke v Sunderland
Jack Butland 9, Ryan Shotton 6, Charles Dunne 8, Semi Ajayi 7, Adam Thompson 7, Gael Bigirimana 8, Charles Banya 7 (Gary Gardner 7), Jordan Keane 7 (Jack Jebb 7), Mikey Drennan 7, Villyan Bijev 9 (Anthony Watt 6), Ryan Fraser 8.

The team weren't doing a whole lot wrong at the moment so I felt no changes were required as we had an important game at home against bottom of the league Sunderland. Victory was essential before we played three of the bigger teams in our league. I did have to drop Marc Wilson and Ryan Gauld though due to being tired and as a result, Charles Dunne and Ryan Fraser started in their place. Villyan Bijev was in great form again just like he had been in my first year at the club and he scored an 8th goal of the season but the lead for us was cut short just two minutes later as Sunderland's 20 year old striker Stephen Bunn equalised. A groin complaint for Charles Banya saw him subbed at the interval and Gary Gardner come on. The action was end to end but critically, Chris Kirkland was beaten by Jordan Keane before Ryan Fraser scored again as we confirmed a very much needed three points! That was a result that had relegated Sunderland (and Wigan joined them after losing on the Sunday) and there was more good news as Q.P.R. lost which meant we had a 7 point gap from safety. We needed just two points to confirm our Premiership status once again for next season but we now had to play Man Utd, Everton and Chelsea. Had we done enough? Well, Q.P.R. also had a tough run in as they were also playing Everton and Chelsea but had to play Arsenal too!


http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/64635000/jpg/_64635667_ryan_fraser.jpg
Ryan Fraser scored his first league goal to wrap up a vital 3-2 win against Sunderland.

Premier Division - Man Utd v Stoke
Jack Butland 6, Adam Thompson 5, Charles Dunne 5, Marc Wilson 7, Semi Ajayi 6, Gael Bigirimana 7, Ryan Gauld 6 (Charles Banya 6), Jordan Keane 7, Mikey Drennan 6, Villyan Bijev 6, Ryan Fraser 6.

The win against Sunderland has given us all a huge boost in the knowledge that just two points could secure safety for us or even defeat for Q.P.R. today against Everton. Ryan Gauld is fit again and comes back in for Charles Banya while Ryan Shotton is dropped and replaced by Marc Wilson with Adam Thompson shifting to right-back. Man Utd have had a poor season by their standards and are currently 6th. Cristiano Ronaldo is still in top form though with 32 goals in 33 games but it wasn't he who destroyed us at Old Trafford. He did get on the scoresheet in the end but Arturo Vidal, Javier Hernandez and Shinji Kagawa scored before then and we were soundly beaten! Our attentions then focused on the Everton and a 1-0 defeat for Q.P.R. meant that we were safe regardless of what happens in the final two games against Everton and Chelsea! HOORAY!


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Marc Wilson was one of few players who did well despite being hammered 4-0 by Man Utd.

Premier Division - Stoke v Everton
Jack Butland 8, Adam Thompson 7, Charles Dunne 5 (Kevin Gomez 6), Marc Wilson 6, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 7, Ryan Gauld 7, Jordan Keane 6 (Jack Jebb 6), Mikey Drennan 7, Villyan Bijev 8 (David Moberg Karlsson 7), Ryan Fraser 7.

It was now time for our final home game of the season and I wanted to do something that we hadn't done before, finish it in style. Swansea and Q.P.R. had beaten us in our last home game of the past two seasons and although Everton were 3rd and we had nothing left to play for, I saw no reason why we couldn't aim for a win. We were also three points behind Brighton and for me, the season wasn't over as long as we could improve our league standing. Despite the drubbing against Man Utd, the team was unchanged against an Everton team who still had an outside chance of winning the title. Quality is the key though and Leighton Baines had it to put Everton in the lead. But we had a couple of players of our own who had the ability to turn the game on its head as Mikey Drennan set up Villyan Bijev for the equaliser and a shot from Jack Jebb was deflected into the net by James McCarthy for a shock victory! A fantastic result which puts us level with Brighton after they lost to Aston Villa.


http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/images/aug_12/gun__1344260081_jebb_chesham.jpg
A shot from Jack Jebb saw a deflection take the ball into the goal for a shock win.

Premier Division - Chelsea v Stoke
Jack Butland 8, Adam Thompson 5, Charles Dunne 6, Marc Wilson 6, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 7, Ryan Gauld 7, Jordan Keane 6, Mikey Drennan 6, Villyan Bijev 5 (David Moberg Karlsson 7), Ryan Fraser 6.

Naturally, I was delighted to round off our home season with a win for the first time which in the process, ended Everton's slight hopes of a title. But now we travelled to Chelsea who were 2nd in the league and two points behind Man City to have hopes of the title themselves which goes down to the wire. Could we repeat our Everton shock? I hoped so! After that win, the team was unchanged once again. Chelsea still had Jose Mourinho who prided himself on a good home record and a squad of superstars. The action got going straight away with Villyan Bijev hitting the bar before Romelu Lukaku saw his goal disallowed as Eden Hazard was offside. The breakthrough came from Juan Mata on the 19th minute though and while we were never out of the game, we shot ourselves in the foot when Marc Wilson handballed in the box to allow Eden Hazard to win the game for Chelsea which meant nothing as Man City won their match and therefore the league title!


http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/67842000/jpg/_67842503_marcwilson.jpg
Marc Wilson was at fault for Chelsea's second goal.

It is a shame that we couldn't end with a win or a draw that would have seen us go above Brighton to finish 17th in the table but instead we finish 17th once again with a healthy 10 points between us and the bottom three in the end so at least we didn't have to endure the dramatic finale as we had done last season. It is disappointing though that we actually ended this season with three points less than we had picked up last year!

But we must recognise that I was still in the process of building a squad good enough to start pushing up the table. Since the season began, I had sold a whopping 17 players (including Lazaro, Edu, Sorensen, Grant, N'Zonzi, Jerome, Pickford and Wilkinson - all players that got games under me) and brought in just six as I searched for the right players instead of grabbing whoever is available. We now had 33 players in the squad and I was going to decide once again on the future of the current group of lads and determine whether they were staying or going.

Kingsley
16-01-14, 03:09 PM
Relatively comfortable this season. Let the transfer merry-go-round begin.

Mark
16-01-14, 03:14 PM
Stoke City - Season 3 - A Review
http://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/McArdle_LK15FEB2011.gif


The contract of Eddie Niedzwiecki expired which allowed me to let the 57 year old coach go and replace him with Kettering's 39 year old coach for a fee of £45K. With that as the only contract situation to deal with this Summer for my backroom staff, I was able to get on right away with a discussion over the futures of all 33 players that were on the books at Stoke City.

Goalkeepers
Jack Butland - 32/66 - 7.00
Max Oberschmidt - 8/17 - 7.13

The games to goals conceded ratio wasn't impressive for either of our young goalkeepers but despite that statistic, they had played reasonably well. Some of the coaches had concerns over the pair but the majority agreed that they were both needed for next season. Now aged 23, Jack Butland was no longer a member of the England Under-21 squad and had not yet been recognised by the national squad despite his cap earlier in his career. His contract is up at the end of the next season and I'm pleased to say he has committed for a further five years.

Defenders
Kevin Gomez - 31/0 - 6.48
Adam Thompson - 29/0 - 6.34
Semi Ajay - 28/2 - 6.46
Marc Wilson - 26/0 - 6.31
Charles Dunne - 25/1 - 6.36
Ryan Inniss - 24/0 - 6.42
Ryan Shotton - 11/0 - 6.18
Callum Bennett - 2/0 - 5.00
Ben Heneghan - 2/0 - 5.00

It is already known that Ben Heneghan, Callum Bennett, Ryan Shotton and Marc Wilson are not wanted by the club after being transfer listed this time last year. Of the others, there were differing opinions over Charles Dunne and surprisingly Semi Ajayi who I had thought had a decent season. Given the lack of depth in defence, I decided to give those two another chance for the next year while the futures of Ryan Inniss, Adam Thompson and Kevin Gomez was safe. Performances must get better in defence though which has been the main reason for such a leaky defence which has conceded 80 goals (joint second worse in the league with Q.P.R. Sunderland had conceded 89). An area that definitely needs strengthening over the Summer.

Midfielders
Mikey Drennan - 36/9 - 7.31
Ryan Gauld - 31/10 - 7.39
Charles Banya - 24/0 - 6.58
Gael Bigirimana - 23/0 - 7.13
Ryan Tunnicliffe - 23/5 - 7.04
Julien Ngoy - 15/1 - 6.60
Jordan Keane - 13/4 - 6.85
Ryan Fraser - 12/2 - 6.67
Byron Lawrence - 12/0 - 6.50
Gary Gardner - 11/0 - 6.55
Jack Jebb - 7/1 - 6.57
Josh Carson - 2/0 - 6.50
Jermaine Pennant - 2/0 - 6.50
Lucas Dawson - 1/0 - 6.00

We were looking quite strong in the midfield department with 8 attack minded players, five central midfielders and just one defensive midfielder which is a position I hope to add to in the coming weeks. Lucas Dawson, Jermaine Pennant, Josh Carson and despite doing OK this season, Jordan Keane are four players remaining on the transfer list but the jury is out on Julien Ngoy. The 18 year old winger will be given another year to prove himself further. Also signing a new deal is Ryan Tunnicliffe who has extended his contract from the end of next season for a further two years. With Tunnicliffe, Bigirimana, Gauld and Drennan, we may have a midfield that will be the pinnacle of our future for years to come.

Strikers
Villyan Bijev - 29/9 - 6.93
Andreas Cornelius - 18/7 - 7.06
David Moberg Karlsson - 10/3 - 6.90
Anthony Watt - 7/1 - 6.71
Adam Thomas - 2/1 - 7.00
Jack Sampson - 1/0 - 6.00
Valentin Hayoz - 0/0 - 0.00
Dino Islamovic - 0/0 - 0.00

It is common knowledge that we are overloaded in strikers and for that reason I was delighted to have moved on Cameron Jerome, Karim Rossi and Kenwyne Jones this season but we still have Adam Thomas and Jack Sampson on the transfer list to help cut that number down to 6 strikers with Valentin Hayoz being handed a lifeline after he was originally on the list. With our formation employing one striker, there haven't been a lot of opportunities for the players to prove themselves with the duties handed to Andreas Cornelius at the start of the season before Villyan Bijev took over to good effect with David Moberg Karlsson supporting him. All in all, I don't expect to add any new strikers unless I find that a quality one does become available to which I won't be able to resist snapping them up!

Mark
16-01-14, 03:15 PM
Relatively comfortable this season. Let the transfer merry-go-round begin.

Eventually, yes! I'm hopeful that we can improve on that for next season as hopefully the players will grow and improve themselves as well.

Kingsley
16-01-14, 04:39 PM
Some shocking stats there. Not a single defender managed to average even 6.5 !

I think you also need a striker that will hit double figures for the season. You may have them there (Anthony Watt :whistle: ), but need to pull that performance out of them.

In comparisson to defence and attack, the midfield does look very good and will only improve. A box to box hard man in the Roy Keane mould wouldn't go amiss. And I always want a 3rd choice keeper.

Mark
16-01-14, 04:49 PM
I'm pretty sure that if I had played Cornelius or Bijev for the full season, they'd have bagged double figures. Hopefully they can this year.

Bigirimina could that Keane player. He's been very good apart from a tendency to be booked, he got 7! :D Hopefully I can add another!

Appalling defensive stats. Even the blind man and his dog knew that the defence was shit. Hopefully I can get the men in to improve that area.

kuy
16-01-14, 06:38 PM
Decent midfield, and a roster of attackers that looks good on paper but hasn't been doing it on the pitch - but it's clear to everyone that you need some real quality in defence. Three seasons now, how long will the fans accept the "rebuilding" excuse?

Mark
17-01-14, 10:24 AM
Decent midfield, and a roster of attackers that looks good on paper but hasn't been doing it on the pitch - but it's clear to everyone that you need some real quality in defence. Three seasons now, how long will the fans accept the "rebuilding" excuse?

I think this is going to be the last year that we can say that and I'm hopeful that with the right additions to the defence, we can finally improve on 17th!

Mark
17-01-14, 10:54 AM
Stoke City - Season 4 - The 'Final' Rebuild?
http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/81/45/1814512_30f865e6.jpg


Our Summer of transfer activity started off with a cruel blow. After agreeing an £8.25M deal with Chivas (of Mexico, not USA) for Mexico's under-21 striker Carlos Fierro, the player suffered a broken hip that ruled him out of action for 7 months which led to a breakdown of the deal. Naturally, I was gutted as Fierro looked the real deal with 49 goals in 76 games although one has to wonder if he would have earned a work permit to play for us.

Another bid that fell apart for us was a £6M offer for Southampton's Mats Daehli which had been accepted but the centre midfielder preferred not to talk to us and instead joined Manchester United where he started his career prior to joining Molde. We also competed with West Ham for the signature of Aston Villa's Jordan Graham after we both had bids of £5.25M accepted but he unfortunately chose to move to London. Wigan's Sean Burke also turned down a move indicating that he had no interest in joining us as a rival club(?!) and joined Blackburn.

This Summer also saw the start of the European Championships which Germany ultimately won by beating Holland 1-0 in the Final. We had just one player representing the club at the tournament with Andreas Cornelius starting all three games for Denmark but failing to find the net in defeats to Belgium, Germany and Italy. A very tough group of games!

We did of course, have a scout watching out for some young talent at the finals and I'm delighted to say that we did bring one guy in that played for Belgium. Adding much needed competition to the defence, Junior Malanda arrived for £2.1M from Wolfsburg where he played just four games in three seasons despite having 24 caps for his national team. A centre-back by trade, he can also play in defensive midfield.

We soon added more new faces to our defenders as Garry Morley joined us from relegated Q.P.R. for £425K. The 21 year old has played 16 times for the London side and looks to be a strong, old fashioned centre-back. I hoped he could have a part to play this year along with Slovakian centre-back Lubomir Satka who is a 20 year old with 10 caps signed from Newcastle for £1.7M.

There were also three defenders for the future too as 17 year old Rhys Riley turned down Peterborough to join us for £35K from Doncaster for whom he played 12 games, scoring once and picked up the Young Player of the Month award in April. He can play on the left or in the middle. There was another 17 year old signing a five year deal as Graham Carr came through the academy and has the ability to play at right-back or in the middle of defence as well as defensive midfield. The third is a left back arriving from Coventry as Graham Curtis cost £240K to sign after a season in which he scored once in 27 appearances.

A goalkeeper, although not a top priority, was also on my list of players to sign for the Summer that could act as a third choice goalkeeper behind Jack Butland and Max Oberschmidt. That player was signed from Shrewsbury as Wayne Marsh put pen to paper on a £14K transfer. The 20 year old has only been at the Third Division team for a year where he conceded 21 goals in 12 games but he was awarded the Young Player of the Month award back in December.

We already had quite a few midfielders but when Matthew Kennedy was released by Everton, that did not stop me from signing him up on a free transfer. The 21 year old with 11 caps for Northern Ireland has already played for Everton 7 times and offers versatility to the squad by being able to play all across the midfield. I also added Connor Hunte and Nigel Flynn who are attacking midfielders joining for £220K and £120K from Rochdale and Shrewsbury.

I also arranged for a player to join us in six months time in January upon the expiration of his contract. Spotted playing for the Swedish Under-21's, Gentrit Citaku is a 20 year old Swedish forward who will join us from Norrkoping where he has scored 24 goals in 82 matches.

With so many players joining us, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there were a few players heading out of the door but that actually turned out not to be the case even with 10 players available to leave.

There were just two leaving the club as firstly, Jermaine Pennant recognised that his days were numbered as a footballer and retired at the age of 33 after just 50 games spread out over three years. The other was Marc Wilson who had been a real Jekyl and Hyde character for me over the past three years with an average rating of 6.18 over 55 games. He joins Q.P.R. for £500K.

We did have a few bids turned down for our players though with West Brom looking to sign Mikey Drennan for £8.75M and Peterborough offering £1.2M for Byron Lawrence. Thankfully, both players seemed happy to stay with us so hopefully we won't have to go through what we did with Valentino Lazaro last season!

With the new faces on board taking the squad numbers up to 41 players, I could quite potentially revert to having a development squad once again but I think for this season, I will stick with having all players available for the senior squad.

That means the following will make up the Stoke City squad for my fourth season in charge:
G: Jack Butland, Max Oberschmidt, Wayne Marsh.
D: Junior Malanda, Ryan Shotton, Lubomir Satka, Semi Ajayi, Garry Morley, Adam Thompson, Charles Dunne, Kevin Gomez, Ryan Inniss, Graham Curtis, Callum Bennett, Ben Heneghan, Graham Carr.
M: Mikey Drennan, Gary Gardner, Ryan Gauld, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Gael Bigirimana, Josh Carson, Matthew Kennedy, Charles Banya, Jack Jebb, Ryan Fraser, Byron Lawrence, Julien Ngoy, Lucas Dawson, Jordan Keane, Nigel Flynn, Connor Hunte.
S: Andreas Cornelius, Villyan Bijev, Anthony Watt, Dino Islamovic, David Moberg Karlsson, Jack Sampson, Valentin Hayoz, Adam Thomas.

Fingers crossed for a better season!

Redknapp69
17-01-14, 11:28 AM
Only just catching up with this mate

Think some progress needs to shown now. 3rd year into the new project so fabs might get on your back if battling relegation again

Can the defenders step up? Who is your no.1 striker? Think you need to stick with them and give then a good run
Mid looks good with Gauld and Drennan quality buys

BobMem
17-01-14, 11:51 AM
Nothing quite like signing a defender form a relegated premier league club to catapult you up the table :P

Seriously, great work in the transfer market, time for a better season!

Mark
17-01-14, 01:20 PM
Only just catching up with this mate

Think some progress needs to shown now. 3rd year into the new project so fabs might get on your back if battling relegation again

Can the defenders step up? Who is your no.1 striker? Think you need to stick with them and give then a good run
Mid looks good with Gauld and Drennan quality buys

This is the 4th season now unless you've skipped a season :D Bijev and Cornelius were my strikers, both got a good run of games between them :ok:


Nothing quite like signing a defender form a relegated premier league club to catapult you up the table :P

Seriously, great work in the transfer market, time for a better season!

Haha, put your focus on the two international defenders that we have signed instead of Morley :D

ebfatz
17-01-14, 05:34 PM
Bijev on form at the end of the last one.

Just like I said!!

As Eejit said, the defences average rating last season was pure dog turd!
That has got to improve otherwise it'll be more of the same.

II'd have cashed in on Drennan as well personally!

Mark
17-01-14, 05:36 PM
Bijev on form at the end of the last one.

Just like I said!!

As Eejit said, the defences average rating last season was pure dog turd!
That has got to improve otherwise it'll be more of the same.

II'd have cashed in on Drennan as well personally!

Ooh really? How come? Seems harsh for a player who has got me 8 and 9 goals in his two seasons so far from midfield.

Well, seeing as I seem to ultimately do as you suggest then no doubt that means he's leaving :lol: We don't need the money though to be fair so I didn't need to cash in on him.

ebfatz
17-01-14, 06:51 PM
I would have sold up for the cash. That money, if you found the right players, could get you 3 maybe 4 equal or better players.

You could replace him with someone who gets 16 or 17 in two seasons from midfield instead of 8 or 9.
But if you don't currently need the cash that changes things.

Kingsley
17-01-14, 07:21 PM
If this was a game played on paper, I'd say that you were looking much stronger.

Sadly that is not the case and we will have to see what happens when your team hits the pixels.

kuy
18-01-14, 01:33 AM
Glad to see you've added to the defence and not lost any major players - need a settled side now I reckon. I'd say that if Malanda plays well you'll have a good season, and if he doesn't you won't...

Mark
20-01-14, 02:12 PM
I would have sold up for the cash. That money, if you found the right players, could get you 3 maybe 4 equal or better players.

You could replace him with someone who gets 16 or 17 in two seasons from midfield instead of 8 or 9.
But if you don't currently need the cash that changes things.

Drennan has the penitential to get those goals in my opinion. It's tough to find players under the age of 21 who will get 16 or 17 straight away though. We'll have to wait and see :D


If this was a game played on paper, I'd say that you were looking much stronger.

Sadly that is not the case and we will have to see what happens when your team hits the pixels.

I am a bit more confident, especially with the defensive acquisitions!


Glad to see you've added to the defence and not lost any major players - need a settled side now I reckon. I'd say that if Malanda plays well you'll have a good season, and if he doesn't you won't...

All eyes on Malanda now then :D

Mark
20-01-14, 02:21 PM
Stoke City - Season 4 - The Hunt
http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/81/45/1814512_30f865e6.jpg


"Looks lads, I'll be honest. It's not been an easy couple of years but I think you'll agree that things have changed in the past few months and there's a buzz around this place again. If you two sign on the dotted line for us, then I'm convinced that we can go all the way..." I was talking to two potential new players for the club that I knew would increase the quality in my squad tenfold and hopefully ensure that we could cross the finishing line by the end of the season. One is a 20 year old Croatian midfielder already capped three times by his country and the other is a 21 year old defender capped 14 times for Holland.

"... I mean, just look at the season we've had so far and we're already in a place that could potentially bring us Champions League football next season. I'm not getting carried away and I fully realise we have games against Man Utd and Arsenal to come but we've got the best home record and the joint best defence in the league and I'm positive that with the calibre that you two possess, we can handle those games against the big guns and hopefully improve our record away from home which has been our only downfall so far this season."

That's right, you read that correctly. In 8 home games, we'd lost just once which put us a point ahead of Man City in the home record table. As ever, I was keen to build a fortress at home and we started off fantastically well with a 3-0 win against Norwich (Villyan Bijev hat-trick) and a superb 2-1 win against Man City (Nigel Flynn and Ryan Fraser) only to lose 1-0 to Leicester of all teams. But since then we'd racked up five wins against Liverpool (1-0: Andreas Cornelius), West Ham (1-0: Valentin Hayoz), Middlesbrough (3-1: Matthew Kennedy and Bijev x2), Crystal Palace (1-0: Ryan Gauld) and Fulham (5-1: Kennedy, Josh Carson, Adam Thompson x2 and Gary Gardner).

Jack Butland had been superb and an absolute star for us this season after a season of trouble last year in letting in 66 goals in 32 games. This season, he's already kept 6 clean sheets (three better than we'd managed for the entirety of last season) and had shipped 14 in 16 matches to date. The key was probably a stronger defence with Semi Ajayi and Adam Thompson doing very well while Junior Malanda, after a tricky start, had grown into the team. Our 17 year old Rhys Riley has been the surprise package though with an average rating of 7.14 in 14 games that saw him crowned Young Player of the Month.


http://i.smimg.net/13/33/jack-butland.jpg
Butland has been a revelation this season.

In midfield, the likes of Mikey Drennan and Ryan Gauld hadn't got going yet but fortunately with Gael Bigirimana being a solid presence in midfield, Matthew Kennedy and Josh Carson have emerged as key players who have started to find the net.

The real man of the season so far though had been Villyan Bijev with 6 goals from 9 games (he'd missed a few matches due to injury) which saw forgotten man Valentin Hayoz and Andreas Cornelius start a few games in his absence.

Unfortunately, our away record was letting us down. After losing 1-0 in the opener to the season at Newcastle, we'd followed it up with a 3-1 defeat at Brighton (Jack Jebb) before picking up an impressive point in a 0-0 draw at Chelsea. We failed to find the net again in a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham and a 0-0 draw against West Brom before finally picking up our first win on the road in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa (Kennedy and Lucas Dawson). Everton then gave us a 3-2 beating (Bijev and Hayoz) to leave us with an away record so far of 1 win, 2 draws and a poor 4 defeats. We were also knocked out of the League Cup in the first round after losing 1-0 at Derby.

"Like I said, only downfall has been our away form and I'll be the first to admit it. We should have done far better at Brighton and West Brom and it was a close game at Tottenham. But being 4th in the league and with key games coming up, I'm looking for the inspiration that'll keep us there and start getting us those away wins."

I really wanted the Dutch defender to join us but I knew that the PSV man was also in talks with Spartak Moscow and Arsenal so it'd be tough to bring him to the club. The Croatian from Dinamo Zagreb would hopefully be attracted to us though instead of a move to Greece where Olympiacos had also bid for his services.

Both players thanked me for bringing them over and went away to think about my offer. We had a break in the fixture schedule and I hoped that a decision would be made before we had to travel to Old Trafford which was a week away.

I should also note that prior to giving the duo a tour, we did add to the squad with Charlie Horton arriving from Peterborough for £210K. He's a 21 year old American goalkeeper capped for their under 21's but that's not where I spotted him. He broke through to the first team at Peterborough at the age of 18 and caught my eye last year when they were promoted from the Second Division. I'd already signed Wayne Marsh but he was a bit raw so I felt extra the competition for Max Oberschmidt would be good for him and for us!

With two days until the Man Utd game, we'd heard back from the Croatian. He was in! A £900K signing, I'm convinved that Alen Halilovic would have the effect that Ryan Gauld had for us last season in the Premiership and I was delighted to have him on board and he'd actually start at Old Trafford!


http://www.croatiaweek.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/HALILOVIC.jpg
Alen Halilovic signs for just £900K, a bargain, surely?!

Time was ticking away for Nathan Ake though but I'm sad to say that he didn't get back to us before we had to travel to Manchester. He was still thinking over his trio of offers but between Moscow, Stoke-on-Trent and London, I had a feeling he'd be returning to his roots where he started his career with Chelsea.

Kingsley
20-01-14, 02:41 PM
Am I the only one who thinks that Halilovic looks like a girl ?

For once it looks as if you might be about to have a decent season. Although the away results haven't gone your way, you have been competative and just loosing out by the odd goal. Make yourself hard to beat is the first priority and it looks like you've done that.

Pleased to see that Bijev is back to form and not a single mention of Malanda "The Vital Man"

kuy
20-01-14, 02:58 PM
Great season so far! And it looks like goals have been coming from all over the team, which is good - always a problem if you're relying too heavily on one man

ebfatz
20-01-14, 07:30 PM
Haliliovic is the star of Gillingham's midfield in Soccer Manager.
Let's hope he does the same for you.

Oh by the way Bijev....... :whistle:

Redknapp69
21-01-14, 02:16 AM
Haliliovic is AWESOME - great buy you have there!

Mark
21-01-14, 12:41 PM
Am I the only one who thinks that Halilovic looks like a girl ?

For once it looks as if you might be about to have a decent season. Although the away results haven't gone your way, you have been competative and just loosing out by the odd goal. Make yourself hard to beat is the first priority and it looks like you've done that.

Pleased to see that Bijev is back to form and not a single mention of Malanda "The Vital Man"

The first picture I found of him in Google was as a very young lad and he definitely looked like a girl then!

Bijev has been great, it's just a shame that he got injured for a month although Cornelius and Hayoz did OK in his place.

I did actually mention Malanda when I did a quick summary of the defence in the paragraph about Butland.


Great season so far! And it looks like goals have been coming from all over the team, which is good - always a problem if you're relying too heavily on one man

Makes a nice change, for sure!


Haliliovic is the star of Gillingham's midfield in Soccer Manager.
Let's hope he does the same for you.

Oh by the way Bijev....... :whistle:

:D

I'm ecstatic that I got him for just £900K!


Haliliovic is AWESOME - great buy you have there!

Let's hope he's awesome for me :D

Mark
21-01-14, 01:21 PM
Stoke City - Season 4 - Maintaining the Performances
http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/81/45/1814512_30f865e6.jpg


Naturally, I was delighted that I got one of my two targets before we took on Man Utd although I secretly wished that Nathan Ake had joined us first for his defensive abilities. Nevertheless, I was just as happy to have Alen Halilovic on board and he started at Old Trafford where I'm sorry to say that we lost 2-1 (Villyan Bijev).

One day before we faced Arsenal at home, we had some surprising news in that PSV had rejected the offer tabled by Arsenal and Nathan Ake chose to join us over Spartak Moscow for a club record £11.5M! He was thrust straight into the line-up but was helpless to avoid a 2-0 defeat which were followed by futhe defeats to Southampton and Norwich away from home in the same scoreline which made it four defeats on the bounce. Not exactly the sequence of results I had in mind when I strengthened the squad with the two new arrivals!


http://i.smimg.net/12/52/nathan-ake-chelsea.jpg
After PSV surprisingly turned down an offer from Arsenal, Nathan Ake joins Stoke for a record fee.

All four defeats had come in December which saw us drop to 10th in the league from 4th but thankfully, a 3-2 Boxing Day win against Brighton (Alen Halilovic, Ryan Gauld, Matthew Kennedy) and a 2-0 win over Swansea (Gary Gardner, Jack Jebb) a few days later put us back into 8th place with both wins coming at home.

The New Year started with a 1-1 home draw against Newcastle (Junior Malanda) before another four game winless streak as we lost 2-1 at Man City (Lucas Dawson), 3-1 at home to Tottenham (Villyan Bijev), drew 3-3 at Liverpool (Villyan Bijev x2, Josh Carson) and lost 2-1 against Chelsea at home (Lucas Dawson).

It had been a frustrating time as we had now failed to win away from home since early November and had a number of players struggling to keep up their fantastic form at the start of the season. The arrivals of forward Gentrit Citaku from Norrkoping as a Bosman signing in January and a £625K capture of centre-back John Souttar from Bradford had given me extra options in a squad that I had now used 38 players so far in the season. Lucas Dawson had by now also left to join Carlisle for just £55K as I finally moved on a player that had been transfer listed for quite some time.

Thing were looking up as we moved into March as West Brom were beaten 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium (Andreas Cornelius x2) and we finally won away from home at Middlesbrough in a thrilling 4-2 victory (Jack Jebb, Andreas Cornelius, Julien Ngoy and Ryan Gauld).

We'd finally progressed in the FA Cup too, reaching the 5th Round for the first time during my tenure as manager. Tranmere were beaten 3-2 away in the 3rd Round 3-2 (Andreas Cornelius, Alen Haliliovic, Matthew Kennedy) as were Doncaster 2-0 away in the 4th Round (Josh Carson, Alen Halilovic) before we drew 0-0 at home to Sunderland which forced a 5th Round replay in which Sunderland came out as 4-2 winners (Charles Banya, Kevin Gomez).

Despite the two separate poor runs of form in December and late January/early February, I had to be happy with the improvement that we'd made this season as we were left in 12th place after 28 games with a record of 12 wins, 4 draws and 12 defeats. We still had the joint second best home record in the league with Southampton while our away form still needed some work with just two wins and three draws from 13 games.

It was clearly taking our transfer record signing some time to settle in though. After some horror performances at left back, Nathan Ake had a break from the team for a while before forcing his way back in and has now played 12 games in which he has an unimpressive average rating of 6.42.

Alen Halilovic was a different story though and was a nailed on starter having started 14 games and scored 3 goals, made 2 assists and picked up two man of the match awards which saw his average rating set as 7.29.

The trouble is, not enough players were weighing in regularly with goals or assists anymore compared to the start of the season. Villyan Bijev had reached 10 goals from 18 games but the closest to him was Andreas Cornelius and Matthew Kennedy with 5 goals each. Mikey Drennan hadn't scored despite 8 appearances while Halilovic, Ryan Gauld and Josh Carson were on 3 goals.


http://bc01.rp-online.de/polopoly_fs/fortuna-villybijev-1.1712504.1314788287!image/1361055852.jpg_gen/derivatives/d540x303/1361055852.jpg
Villyan Bijev is doing more than his fair share of scoring goals despite missing 9 weeks of football

In terms of assists, at least Gauld was leading there but only with 4 which is disappointing given the array of talent that we had in midfield. It says something when 18 year old academy graduate Graham Carr, a defender/defensive midfielder has 3 to his name!

Hopefully we can keep our form up in the final 10 games of the season but we had 6 games away to play. At 12th, we were some 20 points away from the bottom three of Leicester, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough so we had not yet secured our Premiership status for next year. I certainly hoped that we'd get to the 40 points barrier as soon as possible so that we can truly enjoy the rest of the season as opposed to the relegation battle that we'd come to be familiar with in recent seasons.

ebfatz
21-01-14, 09:50 PM
You paid how much for Ake!! :shocked:
Drennan still not getting amongst the goals.

Someone has got to step up and help my man Bijev out. He can't do it alone!

Redknapp69
21-01-14, 10:44 PM
Decent season mate and a strong finish will be great! Can't help Ake is a random signing for such large cash

Kingsley
22-01-14, 11:05 AM
Need to push on now and get a European place. Any sort of away form while maintaining the home momentum will do it.


Feed the Bij

Mark
22-01-14, 11:12 AM
You paid how much for Ake!! :shocked:
Drennan still not getting amongst the goals.

Someone has got to step up and help my man Bijev out. He can't do it alone!

I know, it's a lot of money but we sure have plenty :D

I think you are actually a curse on my squad, things you say or predict actually come true :lol: Since you said you'd sell Drennan, he's gone to shit :lol:


Decent season mate and a strong finish will be great! Can't help Ake is a random signing for such large cash

I know but if you think about it, it's a good investment in our future :) As a D/DMLC, he offers great versatility as well and is an established Holland international now.


Need to push on now and get a European place. Any sort of away form while maintaining the home momentum will do it.


Feed the Bij

... and he will score!

Mark
22-01-14, 12:49 PM
Stoke City - Season 4 -The Final Push
http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/81/45/1814512_30f865e6.jpg


Given our poor away record, I'm delighted to say that we improved the 4-2 win at Middlesbrough by picking up a point in a 0-0 draw at Leicester which we should have won before then winning 2-1 and 3-0 at West Ham (Jack Jebb, Matthew Kennedy) and Crystal Palace (Villyan Bijev x2, Jack Jebb) which left us with better viewing at our overall away record of 4 wins, 4 draws and 9 defeats.

My final signing of the season arrived before the transfer deadline as Jonathan Valls joined us from Burnley for £625K. For an 18 year old Spaniard, the centre-back is much travelled already having started his career at Notts County before joining Burnley for whom he played just once. It was in two separate loan spells at Millwall where he caught our eye in being named Young Player of the Month in January. The fact that he is a left footed centre half too is a bonus.

In addition to that, we recorded a superb 2-0 win at home to Everton (Villyan Bijev, Gary Gardner) but before playing Arsenal and Man Utd in a double header, we lost 3-1 to Aston Villa (Alen Halilovic) with easily our worst home performance this season. Naturally, I was devastated and it saw our home form somewhat ruined having looked so strong beforehand.

Speaking of the Arsenal game, nothing changed as we lost 2-0 at Arsenal which means I have failed to pick up a single point at the Emirates Stadium. But there was a first as there was victory for the first time over Man Utd when they came to the Britannia Stadium and lost 1-0 thanks to Villyan Bijev whose goals so far this season have now set a club record as top goalscorer.

After that high point, I'm sorry to say that we wound down the season with no victories in our final three games as we lost 2-0 at Fulham before completed our home schedule with a 0-0 draw against Southampton which is a result that leaves us 8th in the home record table with 12 wins, 2 draws and 5 defeats.

For the third time in four years at Stoke, we completed the season against Swansea with the last game of the season being at Swansea for a 2nd time. Two years ago, we'd put in a fantastic performance to round off the season in style (avoiding relegation in the process) and this time, there was nothing to play for as we'd long since secured our league safety and after a 10th minute goal from Andreas Cornelius, it looked like we'd get a great result again only for Junior Malanda to be dismissed for a second time this season after a horror challenge on James Rodriguez. That led to a comeback for Swansea with Emmanuel Frimpong scoring twice and Jackson Martinez also finding the net to register a 3-1 win.

It was a disappointing end to what had been a fine season for us as we finished 13th and level on points with Liverpool! While it equals my best finish (in my first year) where we picked up 40 points, this year we had accumulated 54 points and had conceded only 47 goals which is a personal best having previously conceded 58 goals. The 47 conceded goals is the 9th best record in the league. Surprisingly enough, we didn't score more goals than we had last year where we had scored 56 and found the net 50 times on this occasion!

But let's be honest. We're all delighted to finish the season 24 points away from the bottom three having been so perilously close to the relegated sides in the past three years. Leicester, Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough are the three going down this year and joining us will be Cardiff, Derby and Wigan.

By the end of the season, the average age of the squad was set at exactly 22 years of age with 13 current internationals and 5 current under 21 players. My aim is to have at least half a squad of players that will be competing at the World Cup at the end of next season and I am certainly aiming to finish in the top half next season.

In order to help me achieve those targets, it was time once again to reflect on the season that had passed and discuss with my backroom team exactly who we are going to keep hold on and if there are any of my 46 man squad that we need to let go.

Before doing so, there were four changes behind the scens as coach Thomas Wilhelmi was let go upon the expiration of his contract along with scouts Simon Staal, Markus Rauffmann and Dale Hunt. It ends four years at the club for the quartet and they are replaced by new coach Gareth Stewart (Yeovil - £375K) and new scouts Anthony Glover (Blackburn - £28K), Richard Abbott (Watford - £28K) and Gary Hatton (Barnsley - £40K). I also extended the contracts of physios Dave Hancock and Richard Harper for a further five years.

Goalkeepers
Jack Butland - 29/38 - 7.41
Charlie Horton - 14/16 - 7.43
Max Oberschmidt - 1/0 - 6.00
Wayne Marsh - 0/0 - 0.00

Having strengthened this particular department with the signings of Charlie Horton and Wayne Marsh this season, this was an area of the squad that suddenly looked in good hands, so to speak! Jack Butland has undoubtedly turned into a star this season with a much improved games to goals conceded ratio having previously let in 17 and 34 extra goals in the past two years. In fact, he has been the second best performing goalkeeper in the Premier League behind David de Gea of Man Utd so it is just baffling that Nigel Pearson has not considered him for the England squad.

With regards to the others, Wayne Marsh was a signing to act as a number three and has failed to play a game and hasn't particularly impressed in training so it looks like he may be transfer listed. We are happy to keep going with Max Oberschmidt while Charlie Horton has done very well when being rotated with Butland midway through the season as well. The jury remains out on the 21 year old American though.

Defenders
Graham Carr - 34/0 - 6.53
Junior Malanda - 32/1 - 6.78
Semi Ajayi - 24/0 - 6.67
Rhys Riley - 21/0 - 7.05
Lubomir Satka - 21/0 - 6.86
Nathan Ake - 19/0 - 6.47
Adam Thompson - 12/2 - 6.58
Garry Morley - 9/0 - 6.33
Graham Curtis - 7/0 - 6.14
Ryan Inniss - 7/0 - 6.14
John Souttar - 5/0 - 6.40
Jonathan Valls - 5/0 - 6.80
Kevin Gomez - 1/1 - 7.00
Callum Bennett - 0/0 - 0.00
Charles Dunne - 0/0 - 0.00
Ben Heneghan - 0/0 - 0.00
Ryan Shotton - 0/0 - 0.00

After football supporter watching Stoke last season knew instantly that we were in need of significant investment to our defensive options and that's certainly an area that has been improved as 9 players were added to the squad with £11.5M being spent alone on Nathan Ake. He and Junior Malanda have both taken time to settle in but are clearly players that will be integral to the club in the long term. Both players have been key to a far more resilient looking defence with teenagers Graham Carr and Rhys Riley being surprise starters at full-back with their efforts recognised by call ups to the England under-21 squad.

Most of the new signings have arrived from the Football League and you can tell at times in the performances of Jonathan Valls, John Souttar, Rhys Riley and Graham Curtis that is the case whereas Semi Ajayi has been reduced to a bit part role this season. These five players have joined the trio of Callum Bennett, Ben Heneghan and Ryan Shotton who remain unwanted by the club. It was tough in particular to make Valls and Riley available but the fact is that there are better options out there and we should always be looking for improvements.

The future of Ryan Inniss is also uncertain after he is refusing to open negotiations to extend his contract beyond next season.

Midfielders
Gael Bigirimana - 39/0 - 7.00
Josh Carson - 28/3 - 6.96
Mathew Kennedy - 28/6 - 7.07
Ryan Gauld - 27/3 - 7.11
Jack Jebb - 25/5 - 6.92
Alen Halilovic - 22/4 - 7.09
Gary Gardner - 13/3 - 7.00
Julien Ngoy - 11/1 - 7.00
Mikey Drennan - 9/0 - 6.67
Jordan Keane - 9/0 - 6.56
Nigel Flynn - 8/1 - 6.63
Charles Banya - 7/1 - 6.57
Ryan Fraser - 7/1 - 6.29
Connor Hunte - 3/0 - 6.00
Byron Lawrence - 1/0 - 6.00
Ryan Tunnicliffe - 0/0 - 0.00

Midfield is admittedly a position that is looking overloaded at the moment and there is certainly some underperforming players amongst the list. I am especially disappointed to see that Mikey Drennan hasn't been able to assert himself this season while the goal return from Ryan Gauld is somewhat disappointing given a fantastic start to his Stoke career last season. If I can get these duo performing next season along with the newly acquired and exciting Alen Halilovic, we'd have a great trio of offensive players on our hands. Gary Gardner too has looked revitalised this season after getting back into the team while Jack Jebb looks to have made the centre midfield position own as had Gael Bigirimana who has been offered a new contract. I must also mention Matthew Kennedy who I had expected to be a bit part player after signing him for free after his release by Everton but he's actually done very well.

Elsewhere, I will be trying to move on Jordan Keane and Josh Carson once again despite the latter having a good run in the team this season. Also told that they no longer have a future at Stoke is Julien Ngoy and Connor Hunte.

Strikers
Villyan Bijev - 25/14 - 7.48
Andreas Cornelius - 15/6 - 7.27
Valentin Hayoz - 9/2 - 6.78
David Moberg Karlsson - 3/0 - 6.33
Gentrit Citaku - 2/0 - 6.50
Dino Islamovic - 0/0 - 0.00
Jack Sampson - 0/0 - 0.00
Adam Thomas - 0/0 - 0.00
Anthony Watt - 0/0 - 0.00

I have always had plenty of options in the attacking department and once again, I had a wealth of options to choose from this season but there was no stopping one man this year as Villyan Bijev broke records to become our top goalscorer this season. Backed up by the also excellent Andreas Cornelius, the duo have been the only players that I've really used this season with fleeting appearances for others.

Valentin Hayoz managed a few games earlier on this season but he is in fact now on his way out of the club having agreed to join Blackburn a few months ago. Efforts will also resume to try and move on Adam Thomas and Jack Sampson but I will most likely keep hold of the other four strikers in my squad.

Kingsley
22-01-14, 02:30 PM
Not bad finishing midtable, but never in any danger of relegation (which makes a change). Time now to change up a gear and go for that European qualification. After that first season you have been particularly crap in the cups.

Defense is still not performing well enough Carr, Adjayi and Aki all need to start performing to their potential. Midfield has also let you down a bit, and they need to chip in with a few more goals to help out Bijev.

Bijev and Cornelius were the guys who saved the season for you. Same again from them will do fine.

BobMem
22-01-14, 04:14 PM
Yeah, good season but got to keep looking forward.

More goals needed from midfield. Playing 1 up front who's only getting 14 goals (even if it is a record) means you desperately need a couple of midfielders threatening to make double figures.

Great work on the updates though, nice snappy feel to the last season!

ebfatz
22-01-14, 05:51 PM
Much improved.

As I have such influence, I'm going to say that Bijev will continue into next season in the same form and Jack Jebb and Alen Halilovic will really come into their own in the midfield!

:lol:

:ok:

Redknapp69
23-01-14, 03:33 AM
good season mate and brings confidence to new season - can ya post a screenie of current formation/1st team players that would be in that formation - help give us a better steer over who is playing where - Ta

What is your aim - to get into European places in league? To win a cup? Would be good to see your targets and what the focus is on - soz if you have posted this above - have had to skim read the last update as back from hols and lots of CM stuff to catch up on!

Mark
23-01-14, 10:59 AM
Not bad finishing midtable, but never in any danger of relegation (which makes a change). Time now to change up a gear and go for that European qualification. After that first season you have been particularly crap in the cups.

Defense is still not performing well enough Carr, Adjayi and Aki all need to start performing to their potential. Midfield has also let you down a bit, and they need to chip in with a few more goals to help out Bijev.

Bijev and Cornelius were the guys who saved the season for you. Same again from them will do fine.

Agree with Ake comments, needs to do a lot better to justify his value. Carr and Ajayi don't look good enough but best of a bad bunch in the rest of the defence to be honest.

I'd be happy with midtable again this season and continuing to add to the squad at the same time.


Yeah, good season but got to keep looking forward.

More goals needed from midfield. Playing 1 up front who's only getting 14 goals (even if it is a record) means you desperately need a couple of midfielders threatening to make double figures.

Great work on the updates though, nice snappy feel to the last season!

Agree with both of you now about more goals from midfield. I don't seem to have had many since the Drennan and Gauld combination two seasons ago.


Much improved.

As I have such influence, I'm going to say that Bijev will continue into next season in the same form and Jack Jebb and Alen Halilovic will really come into their own in the midfield!

:lol:

:ok:

:D I hope Jack Jebb does. I like him when he's played but he's had a lot of competition in the middle and can't seem to get enough consistency. Same with Halilovic although he's still quite young.


good season mate and brings confidence to new season - can ya post a screenie of current formation/1st team players that would be in that formation - help give us a better steer over who is playing where - Ta

What is your aim - to get into European places in league? To win a cup? Would be good to see your targets and what the focus is on - soz if you have posted this above - have had to skim read the last update as back from hols and lots of CM stuff to catch up on!

The same 4-5-1 that I play everywhere mate. The team is constantly chopped and changed due to form. If you look at the most appearances, the most selected team was:


Jack Butland
Graham Carr - Semi Ajayi - Junior Malanda - Rhys Riley
Gael Bigirimana
Jack Jebb
Ryan Gauld - Josh Carson - Matthew Kennedy
Villyan Bijev

At the moment, I'm happy with midtable after two years of flirting with relegation. A top 10 half finish would be ideal in the next two years while improving on the youngsters that I already have. And seeing the ones I have improve would be great too!

Mark
23-01-14, 11:06 AM
Stoke City - Season 5 - The End of a Rebuild
http://www.stokecityfc.com/cms_images/other/stoke-v-swansea-0764226-251984_284x213.jpg


As we move into a fifth year of management at Stoke City, I admitted that the rebuild of the playing squad at the Britannia Stadium had been completed after we had gone full circle in the four years, starting off the first season with a 13th place finish and ending last year in the same position.

It was for this same reason that there wasn't much movement going on in the transfer market for the club as we signed a total of seven new players for a fee of £6M altogether. Four players also left the club as we expanded the squad to the limit of 50 players.

21 year old goalkeeper Wayne Marsh left without making any appearances for us as he signed for Burton Albion for £250K. It was actually a profit for us after Shrewsbury were given £14K for him last season. Despite there being three other goalkeepers already on the books, I moved to bring in Walsall's Polish goalkeeper Michal Olczak for £675K as his replacement.

There was also a defender leaving as Jonathan Valls agreed a £750K switch to Bournemouth after exactly six months at the club and six starts. His sale represents a profit having paid Millwall £110K for his services. Again, there was a replacement for him as £1.5M went to Hull City to acquire 21 year old Dan Cass who plays both at left back or in central defence.

Julien Ngoy also departed, agreeing a £500K switch to Gillingham after 34 games for me over the course of four years during which he scored just two goals. Despite the sale of just one midfielder and an array of them already at the club, I actually made five new signings in this area as Tomas Dombrauskis and Jack Grealish both joined on a free transfer following their release by Leicester and Aston Villa. There was a raid on Blackburn as Bernard Sbaiz was snapped up for £1.6M, Swansea for Kristian Scott for £1.1M and the same fee went to Q.P.R for Jakub Lukowski. Grealish is an advanced central attacking midfielder while the other four are all central midfielders which means I now have 8 options in that position!


http://i3.birminghammail.co.uk/incoming/article5756421.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/jack-grealish-5756421.jpg
Jack Grealish joins the Potters bandwagon

There was a fourth and final departure which we already expected as Valentin Hayoz completed his £1.6M move to Ipswich. Hayoz was my 3rd signing at Stoke for £80K and after a bright start for the development squad, he never really lived up to his potential and found opportunities limited, playing 16 times and scoring three.

The fixture schedule threw up a tough start to the new season as we travelled to Anfield. After a fine start in which Andreas Cornelius had given us a lead, we were given a final minute heart break as Charlie Horton clipped the feet of Edison Cavani in the area. The Uruguayan stepped up to convert the spot-kick for a draw before buggering off to complete a £20.5M transfer to Juventus!

That moment took the wind out of our sails after we'd started the game in style. We were unlucky to lose 1-0 at Southampton in the following game before a third away game in a row ended 0-0 at Derby.

Our first home game finally arrived as we welcomed promoted Cardiff side to Stoke and after Jack Grealish had given us the lead, Cardiff then equalised through Paraguayan Javi Acuna who then completed a comeback in the 90th minute with a winner that was so harsh once again on my players.

It felt as though we were just not getting any luck at the moment and that continued into the League Cup as we took on a Second Division side in Bradford and lost 1-0! But credit must be due to the Bradford team, it was the first game in which we just hadn't competed this season and they fully deserved to knock us out.


http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/scaled/510x250/may_12/gun__1336559443_jebb_jack.jpg
Jack Jebb is amongst a group of players representing England Under 21's

The strength and quality in our squad was there to start picking up the wins and that was evident when 15 players were called into their senior squad while 9 were named in the under-21's including Dan Cass, Rhys Riley, Jack Jebb and Nigel Flynn for the England youth squad. Bernhard Sbaiz (named as Young Player of the Month for us as well) was also a part of France's Under 21 squad.

Our fifth game of the season was a fourth away from home where our struggles continued with Mohamed Diame handing West Ham an early lead before Ross McCormack doubled their lead as we once again failed to find the net despite our best intentions in out shooting the opposition.

Back at home, a place where our home form had been our strength and a vital key to our success (of sorts) last season, we were undone by Brighton as Uko (a Summer target of mine from Q.P.R.) and Adrian Mierzejewski saw us 2-0 down once again. A first appearance of the season by Villyan Bijev from the bench saw the Bulgarian score a late consolation goal as we unsurprisingly dropped down to the foot of the table.

The seven game winless streak had seen us find the net just three times as we clearly lacked the creativity in the side. Two favourites in Mikey Drennan and Villyan Bijev started the next game at home to Arsenal but both were unable to help find a breakthrough as Arsenal scored a late winner through Adam Morgan. It was the third time that we'd been done right at the death of the game.

Despite the lack of goals in the team, my next signing was a fifth goalkeeper as England under-21 Justin Marshall signed up for £1.6M from Norwich which took our number of players in that squad to five yet only Rhys Riley made an appearance for them during our international break and even he came off the bench with Dan Cass and Marshall unused. The break was good timing for us and allowed the majority of our players to go away and have a distraction from our woeful form.


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Robert Lewandowski punishes Stoke

We had a tough game upon our return though at Man Utd who had spent £42.5M on Luke Shaw and Robert Lewandowski over the Summer yet you'd think we were the ones who had spent that kind of money as we dominated the game but failed again to score as Lewandowski proved to be the difference with a 64th minute goal to win the game.

After playing Arsenal and Man Utd, we were now up against Chelsea at home and thankfully a goal was scored at last with Villyan Bijev scoring after just two minutes thanks to being set up by Mikey Drennan. As the game drew nearer and nearer to the final whistle, I feared yet another late conceded goal but was delighted to see the defence hold firm to finally pick up our first win at the 10th time of asking (including the League Cup) as we moved off the bottom up to 18th.

For the first time as well, I took a loss on a player after Ryan Inniss was sold to Burnley for a fee of £160K which I found disappointing. The 23 year old centre-back was a key part of the England under-21 squad a couple of years ago and had started his career at Stoke well before dramatically fading away following his £700K arrival. In total, he played 53 times for the club.

The difference in the team after finally picking up our first win was phenomenal and we travelled to Norwich full of confidence. A helping hand was given after 9 minutes when Steven Taylor lost his head and was sent off for hacking down Bernard Sbaiz. We duly obliged to make the most of the extra man and Villyan Bijev struck twice for our first away win which took us out of the bottom three and up into 16th.

The space in the squad from the sale of Ryan Inniss was immediately filled as Mason Bennett arrived on loan for the remainder of the season from Celtic. It was the first time I'd loaned a player and I hoped the 21 year old would push Villyan Bijev into scoring 20 goals for the season. Bennett has found opportunities tough to come by at Celtic where he has played only 9 games in over three years yet scored 10 goals!


http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/65154000/jpg/_65154259_150564585(1).jpg
Stoke snap up Celtic's Mason Bennett on loan after a tough time at Parkhead

I would also be making a loss on Mikey Drennan who upon the unprotection of his contract, decided to join Celtic in the forthcoming transfer window which infuriated me no end. The Irish midfielder has fought his way back into my first team and will now be leaving for just £3.5M after I had paid £5.25M for him three years ago. I moved quickly to replace him by inflicting the same fate on Huddersfield and will be signing their Spanish forward Jordi Corrales for £1.1M in January.

Thankfully no loss was made on Graham Curtis who left us for Leeds in a £700K deal having spent £240K on the 19 year old left back last year. He played just 7 times without greatly impressing and returns to the Football League. Also on his way out after just a year was Connor Hunte who joins Yeovil for £250K after just three games after we'd bought him for £220K.

Although Villyan Bijev had got the goals lately, Mason Bennet started in our next match and scored on his debut at home to West Brom along with a first goal for Bernard Sbaiz and a first this season for Josh Carson as we looked to cruise to a win and a clean sheet until a late goal by Anthony Stokes made it 3-1. The third win on the bounce moves us up once again to 15th.

We had never gone better than 3 games won in a row and that continued when Swansea came to the Britannia Stadium and went ahead through Wayne Routledge. Josh Carson scored again to level the game but Ulrik Jenssen swung it back in the visitors favour and Alex Pritchard agonisingly made it 3-1 to end our good run although we stayed 15th.

The space in the squad was once again filled up by another striker as Rinor Nushi arrived following a release back in the Summer by West Ham for whom he'd never played for.


http://www.direktpress.se/PageFiles/143885/BOX%203%20V%C3%A4sby.jpg
Rinior Nushi signs up as something of an unknown quality

Despite his decision to leave in January, Mikey Drennan remained in the team and was responsible for cancelling out a Ricky van Wolfswinkel opener at Aston Villa as we secured a point at Villa Park which wasn't enough to fall down two places to 17th!

Playing Wigan at home saw a long awaited first start of the season for Ryan Gauld and although he wasn't involved in Mason Bennett's first minute goal, it was his shot that was blocked and followed up by Bennett for his 2nd goal which restored the lead after Francisco Silva had levelled the game. Unbelievably, we then witnessed (on his 77th appearance) a first ever Stoke goal for Gael Bigirimana as we confirmed a 3-1 win.

By now, we were 16th after 14 games and had two games in hand on most teams around us and even three on a few. I was happy that we'd finally turned things around after a horror start to the season but it was vital that we kept picking up wins as often as possible if we were to improve on 13th.

BobMem
23-01-14, 01:56 PM
Horror start indeed.

After one season of midtable obscurity it was kind of reassuring to have the old "Hendo Stoke" we all know and love back. Looks like things are improving of late though. Do you have Swansea on the last day again?

kuy
23-01-14, 02:38 PM
Jesus, what an awful start! Looks like you've turned it around now, touch wood!

Before the start of the season I was gonna say that with your big squad, it'd be good to get into Europe, but even though it's early days yet I think that might be beyond you now.

Mason Bennett should do well for you but you have a lot of (relatively) big-name strikers on the books now - is anyone getting unhappy at a lack of games (e.g. Cornelius, Watt)?

Kingsley
23-01-14, 02:58 PM
Shocker of a start. Just couldn't buy a goal. Still think you need more of them from your midfield.

Is Drennan a big loss. He looks to have been blowing hot and cold after his amazing start. (Need I say anything other than contract management ?)

Redknapp69
24-01-14, 05:03 AM
Aye - not keeping on top of his contract surely an error? Or was he not a big loss after initial form?

Mason Bennett is SUPERB! He should bang the goals in as long as you regularly play him. Stats don't look great to start but I assume he has massive PA as they soon improve and he is prolific in my Swansea reserves and now fully broken into 1st team squad

Any cup draws yet or did I miss that?

Mark
24-01-14, 11:25 AM
Horror start indeed.

After one season of midtable obscurity it was kind of reassuring to have the old "Hendo Stoke" we all know and love back. Looks like things are improving of late though. Do you have Swansea on the last day again?

Reassuring to see us struggle? :eek: We actually don't :lol: It's Fulham away this time.


Jesus, what an awful start! Looks like you've turned it around now, touch wood!

Before the start of the season I was gonna say that with your big squad, it'd be good to get into Europe, but even though it's early days yet I think that might be beyond you now.

Mason Bennett should do well for you but you have a lot of (relatively) big-name strikers on the books now - is anyone getting unhappy at a lack of games (e.g. Cornelius, Watt)?

Not just yet. Adam Thomas and Jack Sampson remain on the transfer list while Dino Islamovic is upset as I've had to warn him a few times for being late to training. Surprisingly, no-one seems to be unhappy with the lack of games at the moment.


Shocker of a start. Just couldn't buy a goal. Still think you need more of them from your midfield.

Is Drennan a big loss. He looks to have been blowing hot and cold after his amazing start. (Need I say anything other than contract management ?)

Definitely still need goals from midfield. It's all on the strikers at the moment. Drennan had a bad year last season but I was convinced he was on his way back in before he left us.

Wouldn't say it's a mistake with his contract. They get unprotected after 3 years which is a pain in the arse. I did try to offer a new deal with him (as I do for all players in this situation) but he didn't want to know :(


Aye - not keeping on top of his contract surely an error? Or was he not a big loss after initial form?

Mason Bennett is SUPERB! He should bang the goals in as long as you regularly play him. Stats don't look great to start but I assume he has massive PA as they soon improve and he is prolific in my Swansea reserves and now fully broken into 1st team squad

Any cup draws yet or did I miss that?

Been very impressed with Bennett indeed! Yeah, we were beaten by Bradford in the League Cup. FA Cup draw puts us against Accrington.

Mark
24-01-14, 12:46 PM
Stoke City - Season 5 - Improving on 13th?
http://www.stokecityfc.com/cms_images/other/stoke-v-swansea-0764226-251984_284x213.jpg


As expected, Mikey Drennan completed his £3.5M transfer to Celtic and as expected, we brought in Huddersfield's Jordi Corrales at the same time for £1.1M as well as adding left-back Greg White from Leyton Orient for £30K.

Following the win over Wigan, we went on an impressive three game streak of a 1-0 win over Everton (Mason Bennett), a 2-2 draw at Man City (Bernard Sbaiz and Mason Bennett) and a 2-0 win over Fulham (Mason Bennett x2) which extended our unbeaten run to five games.

Unfortunately, that run ended with 3-1 defeats both at home to Southampton and Tottenham in which Mason Bennett scored the goals. Bennett was clearly a star since arriving and the supporters who were at first upset at Villyan Bijev being replaced so unexpectedly were suddenly salivating over his form which reads a return of 11 goals in 10 games after he added another two goals at Arsenal where we'd come from 2-0 down to claim a point, the first time that we'd come away with anything other than a defeat from the Emirates Stadium!

The 2-2 draw rounded off a year that hadn't been all that great in terms of our form. We'd played 37 league games in this calendar year and had won just 12 of them (losing 16!) as we clearly struggled in the second half of last season to keep up our good start back then as well as the struggles that we'd been through this season.

Hopefully our form would improve in the forthcoming calendar year as we put our attentions on tying Mason Bennett down to a permanent deal at the club. The first game of the New Year was at home to Liverpool but Mason Bennett's run of 7 games in a row in which he'd scored came to an end after he was sent off with the score tied at 1-1 after Jack Jebb's first goal of the season had cancelled out Nelson Oliveira's opener. He'd gotten into an altercation with the referee but where you'd expect a booking, the referee showed him the red card and Justin Marshall was also sent off for bringing down Jese in the penalty area. Liverpool went on to win 4-1 with Jordan Henderson, Jese and another Oliveira strike.


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Nelson Oliveira was at the heart of a Liverpool victory at Stoke.

The following day, Mason Bennett agreed to join the club from Celtic on a full-time basis for just £975K but on the same day, the FA confirmed he'd serve a 1 match suspension and would miss a league game against Derby. He was given the chance to make amends in the FA Cup at home to Second Division Accrington where Jordi Corrales scored his first goal for Stoke before two goals saw Accrington take an unbelievable lead as we were knocked out of the competition yet again by a Second Division side!

A double header in the league against Newcastle resulted in a 1-0 defeat at home thanks to ex-Potter Charlie Adam and a 3-0 hammering at St. James' Park. A late goal from Derby at home ended in a draw after Josh Carson looked to have ended our winless run which was now extended to 8 games.

The poor run finally did come to an end at Cardiff who had beaten us in our first home game this season so it was nice to get a taste of revenge over them in a 2-1 win with goals from Alen Halilovic and Josh Carson. Somehow, we'd only slipped down to 14th in the table so the win put us back into 13th place which left me with a simple target of improving from this point onwards.


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Josh Carson was surprisingly doing well for us at the moment.

A 3-1 win over West Ham followed which gave us all a huge lift in the hope that things would start getting better out there on the pitch especially as West Ham had led. Bernard Sbaiz had equalised before Maya Oshida gave away an own goal. Eldin Jakupovic found himself sent off and Alen Halilovic scored a 2nd goal of the season from the spot.

A 5th goal of the season for Josh Carson was followed with a goal by Jordi Corrales as we led 2-0 at Brighton. On the 55th minute, a red card for Semi Ajayi threatened to undo the good work we'd done and after Biram Kayal pulled one back, the players had to dig in to earn an excellent 3 points that moved us up to 12th. Interestingly, it was a win that meant our away form was actually better than our home form after picking 17 points compared to our 16 at home.

The good form of Josh Carson attracted a bid from Q.P.R. of £825,000 which was gratefully accepted for a player who cost £240,000 and had been on the transfer list for three years. His time at Stoke yielded 11 goals in 67 games. Plans to replace him with Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem for £350,000 were thwarted by the advances of Swansea as he chose to join the Welsh side who were 16th in the league.

Next up was a Man Utd side at home with Robert Lewandowski in top form. His 12 man of the match awards already this season had set a Premier Division record in which he'd scored 23 in 26 starts. However, he didn't get on the scoresheet as Nathan Ake gave us a first minute lead which was overcome by goals from Phil Jones and Adnan Januzaj, the latter scoring in the 85th minute.

There was now 10 games left of the season as we were 12th in the league and 10 points clear of the bottom three. A top ten finish may well be out of our reach for two reasons. Liverpool were 11th and some six points ahead of us while we were also yet to play Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City in our final run-in that included just four home games.

BobMem
24-01-14, 02:02 PM
Don't know why you're worried about the run in, your away form is better than at home so it's surely good news 6/10 are away?!

The ship looks steady now, although you do have a habit of going on runs of defeats. Hopefully you'll avoid doing that ahead of those games against the big clubs, else that 10 point margin could disappear!

KUTGW!

Kingsley
24-01-14, 03:19 PM
Should be safe.
Good to see that Mason Bennett is holding up the fine tradition of starting off like a house on fire, then disappearing from view.

Redknapp69
25-01-14, 04:50 AM
Nice write up once again fella!

You are at the Pulis position now which I still think is a fantastic feat. Given your young players philosophy I wouldn't expect you to be fighting relegation in the next few years as the squad should evolve but European places may also take a while to come. A steady ship with yearly improvements should be acceptable to board/fans?

Mark
27-01-14, 03:56 PM
Don't know why you're worried about the run in, your away form is better than at home so it's surely good news 6/10 are away?!

The ship looks steady now, although you do have a habit of going on runs of defeats. Hopefully you'll avoid doing that ahead of those games against the big clubs, else that 10 point margin could disappear!

KUTGW!

I've learnt never to take anything for granted, even if we have done better away! Part and parcel of being a football manager in this particular job :D


Should be safe.
Good to see that Mason Bennett is holding up the fine tradition of starting off like a house on fire, then disappearing from view.

He certainly has done just that. Unbelievable really that he had scored 11 in 11, gets signed permanently, gets sent off and now Villyan Bijev is back in the saddle. I don't think it'll be the last we've heard of him though :)


Nice write up once again fella!

You are at the Pulis position now which I still think is a fantastic feat. Given your young players philosophy I wouldn't expect you to be fighting relegation in the next few years as the squad should evolve but European places may also take a while to come. A steady ship with yearly improvements should be acceptable to board/fans?

Definitely mate. I've got to be aiming for improvements from here on in each year in one aspect or another. You'd think that'd be the case with a young squad but you never know in CM :lol:

Mark
27-01-14, 06:06 PM
Stoke City - Season 5 - Improving on 13th x2?
http://www.stokecityfc.com/cms_images/other/stoke-v-swansea-0764226-251984_284x213.jpg


Chelsea 2 v 0 Stoke City
Stoke City 0 v 2 Aston Villa
Stoke City 0 v 4 Man City

Those were three results and all defeats as part of our final ten game run-in so you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd ruined the hard work that we'd done in turning around a horrible start to the season to get ourselves into 12th place especially given the two defeats at home.

But as it turned out, we delivered a fantastic end to the season with an astonishing six wins in the other matches!

Firstly, there was a fantastic comeback at Tottenham where we'd come from 1-0 down to record five goals before winning 5-2 in the end. It was a game inspired by Gary Gardner who scored twice along with an own goal from Kyle Naughton as well as goals from Bernard Sbaiz and Jordi Corrales.

We then faced Everton at home and a superb defensive effort saw Nathan Ake crowned man of the match as Jordi Corrales struck the target again along with Alen Halilovic before a late Everton goal was scored. But Jack Jebb come off the bench to firmly screw the nail in Everton's coffin.

Our form did not go unrecognised as we did the clean sweep in the monthly awards as I picked up the Manager of the Month award while Jack Jebb and Bernard Sbaiz got the Player and Young Player of the Month awards. It should also be noted that this was Sbaiz's third award this season while our goalkeeper Justin Marshall had won it back in October!

Our winning run was extended in the next match with Justin Marshall this time getting the man of the match award to keep Norwich at bay. Having said that, we still had the better of the chances and Alen Halilovic had put us on the way to victory before Norwich had scored a penalty that had been given away by Marshall himself. But once again, Jebb stepped up to the task from the bench by scoring the winning goal. A goal that came in injury time!

The three match winning run was unfortunately ended by eventual league champions Chelsea who won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge which was no great shame although we just did not compete at all on the day. Thankfully we got back to winning ways with two 3-0 wins of our own away from home at West Brom (Villyan Bijev and a brace from substitute Mason Bennett) and Swansea (Jordi Corrales, Mason Bennet and Ryan Gauld with the latter scoring his first goal this season).

Unfortunately, a return to home territory after three games away was ruined by a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa and our last game at home of the season was a 4-0 thrashing by Man City. But sandwiched between those defeats was another victory where Jack Butland was the star as Wigan were denied time after time and Jordi Corrales grabbed a 79th minute winner just seconds after stepping on the pitch.

The final home game of the season came at Fulham where it was truly the 'Mason Bennett' show. After scoring 11 goals in 11 games on loan before signing a permanent deal from Celtic, Bennett signed off the season with a jaw-dropping performance that saw poor Maarten Stekelenburg concede 4 goals goals to Bennett alone which meant he finishes the season on 18 goals in total from just 19 appearances! Seamus Coleman did score a goal to interrupt Bennett after his hat-trick but he still scored one more as we signed off the season with a 4-1 win.

So where does that leave us in the league table? Well, I'll tell you that we managed 16 wins, 6 draws and 16 defeats which is unbelievably the exact same sequence of results that we managed last year which left us 13th in the table! However, I'm pleased to say that we have recorded our highest finish since I was hired to the job as we ended up 11th!

It wasn't quite our best attacking display this season with 54 goals but we were just two goals from equalising our best tally of 56 two years ago. The same applies to our defensive record of 54 goals conceded (yes, we'd scored and conceded the same amount of goals!) which was 7 goals off our best which we had set last season.

I was not complaining though. We had managed to improve on our league position which was the most important thing. Now all eyes were on the forthcoming FIFA World Cup and whether we would have any representatives there. We certainly could have Junior Malanda (Belgium), Alen Halilovic (Croatia), Andreas Cornelius (Denmark), Jack Butland (England), Dan Cass (England), Nigel Flynn (England), Jack Jebb (England), Justin Marshall (England), Rhys Riley (England), Ryan Tunnicliffe (England), Jordi Corrales (Spain), Bernard Sbaiz (France), Dino Islamovic (Montenegro), Nathan Ake (Holland), Jakub Lukowski (Poland) and Michal Olczak (Poland).

For Cass, Flynn, Jebb, Riley, Corrales, Sbaiz, Lukowski and Olczak, the World Cup may have come too soon for them to be involved given that they have only been selected for their U21 sides. Tunnicliffe and Marshall may also have an outside chance after getting a 'B' cap this season while Jack Butland has actually been called up to the senior squad but injury forced him to pull out.

As it turned out, none of them were selected for England which I found very disappointing, especially for Butland. We did have Alen Halilovic, Dino Islamovic, Andreas Cornelius, Junior Malanda, Nathan Ake and a surprise in Charlie Horton (USA) called up.

As ever, there were changes to the backroom staff as soon as the season came to an end as I looked to the next season practically straight after the final whistle at Fulham! Scouts Adrian Reeves, Craig Oliver and Gary Hatton were all let go and replaced by Craig Silvestri (Swindon - £70K), Ryan Young (Barnsley - £75K) and Yaya Aubameyang (free). The contracts of assistant manager Eric Steele and coaches Gareth Stewart, Eddie Newton and Dave Beasant were terminated as they were replaced with new assistant manager Wayne Brown (Oxford - £170K) and coaches Steve Banks (St. Johnstone - free), Steve Collis (Rochdale - £750K) and Grant McCann (Barnsley - £140K). With that in order, it was time again to reflect on the playing squad which was in dire need of a trimming due to 49 players on the books.

Goalkeepers
Jack Marshall - 15/22 - 7.33 - One for the future? Conceded 22 goals but was named Young Player of the Month for his performance when taking over from Butland. Has also earned a 'B' England cap despite being just 20 years of age.
Jack Butland - 13/17 - 7.00 - Lost his place after a ropey start to the season and the emergence of Jack Marshall but still viewed as a valuable player to the club. Unfortunate chance to add to his 1 England cap was ruined by injury.
Charlie Horton - 7/8 - 6.86 - Took over from Butland at the start of the season before Marshall was signed and did OK without truly impressing. A surprise inclusion in USA's World Cup squad.
Michal Olczak - 7/10 - 6.86 - See above, was given a run of games with Horton when Butland lost his place but didn't greatly impress. Two games were from the bench though in tough circumstances.
Max Oberschmidt - 0/0 - 0.00 - Is finding competition tough and hasn't started a game for over two years now. Reportedly homesick.

Conclusion
Michal Olczak has been transfer listed which will leave me with 4 goalkeepers on the books. Max Oberschmidt will continue to fill in as a backup goalkeeper for the time being as he is highly rated by the coaching staff.

Defenders
Dan Cass - 33/0 - 6.97 - A £1.5m signing from Hull, Cass has been a regular this season in the same way as Rhys Riley was last year. Called up to the England U21 squad, there are high hopes for him.
Nathan Ake - 29/1 - 6.93 - A regular at either left back or centre-back (generally sharing with Cass), Ake has looked far more composed this season with some excellent displays.
Graham Carr - 29/0 - 6.69 - Another decent season from a rare decent academy graduate. Carr's versatility in that he can play in defence or in defensive midfield has been useful once again although he has not appeared for the England under-21's this season.
John Souttar - 26/0 - 6.62 - A 'B' international for Scotland, Souttar's days at Stoke looked numbered but he has emerged to become one of the most selected players in defence as he improved on his debut season.
Adam Thompson - 21/0 - 6.52 - 23 capped Northern Ireland defender has once again flitted in and out of the team without making a real name of himself. Now 25, his future may not be at the Britannia.
Semi Ajayi - 15/0 - 6.60 - Another defender who blows hot and cold, Ajayi ended the season back in the first team after being frozen out at the start of the season.
Junior Malanda - 9/0 - 6.44 - A Belgian international who made 7 caps this season yet just 6 starts for his club after starting 30 games last season. His lack of form may be a reason why the defence wasn't as solid this season but it has been noticed that he plays as a defensive midfielder for Belgium.
Rhys Riley - 4/0 - 6.00 - A regular inclusion in the England U21 squad, the 19 year old has not progressed from last season which saw him make 20 starts.
Greg White - 4/0 - 5.75 - Failed to impress in 4 starts at left-back after a £30K switch from Leyton Orient. At 21, he'll need to improve fast to save his Premiership career.
Lubomir Satka - 4/0 - 5.50 - A very disappointing season for the Slovakian international with just 3 starts after intitally being tipped to break through to the first team.
Charles Dunne - 3/0 - 7.00 - Once a regular at left-back, Dunne just can't seem to nail down a place anymore and one wonders whether he is best suited playing at a Second Division level. At least he managed three relatively decent starts this season compared to none played last season.
Kevin Gomez - 2/0 - 6.00 - The former Dutch U21 full-back has started once this season and doesn't look to have fulfilled the potential that saw him make 29 starts two years ago. Contract is up next year so a decision will be made on his future.
Garry Morley - 2/0 - 5.00 - Two poor games has seen Morley's chances limited and has now played just 11 games in two years. May not have a future at Stoke.
Callum Bennett - 0/0 - 0.00 - Has not played for the senior team for two years and only has 4 starts to his name after he was part of the inherited squad. Likely to be released after his contract expires.
Ben Heneghan - 0/0 - 0.00 - See the above, another who has not played for over two years since a horror start to his career at Stoke. Another inherited player who will be likely to be released this Summer.
Ryan Shotton - 0/0 - 0.00 - Nobody seems to want the 29 year old right-back who has been transfer listed forever and is certainly not a part of the first team squad. He still has one more year left on his contract.

Conclusion
Ben Heneghan and Callum Bennett will finally cut their ties with Stoke after being released while Semi Ajayi, Rhys Riley, Ryan Shotton and John Souttar will all remain on the transfer list. With their contracts up next season, it would be ideal to negotiate new terms with Kevin Gomez, Adam Thompson and Charles Dunne but not a single one wishes to discuss new deals which has seen the trio placed on the transfer list. That will leave 7 first team players on the books.

Midfielders
Gael Bigirimana - 35/1 - 7.37 - Finally got his first Stoke goal this season and was once again a firm regular in the team as he missed just five league games. A fan favourite and it's easy to see why.
Bernard Sbaiz - 30/4 - 6.97 - A contender for 'Player of the Season'? The French under 21 player played just once for Blackburn yet £1.6M was paid for his services which is the reason why Jack Jebb has been reduced to a bench role. Named as 'Young Player of the Month' three times in the Premiership, the future is bright if he and Jebb can continue their form into next season.
Jack Jebb - 29/3 - 6.72 - Something of a 'supersub', all of his goals came from the bench where he played from 19 times! Also scored once in two games for the England U21's and named as Player of the Month for his goal scoring feats in March.
Ryan Gauld - 22/1 - 6.82 - Whatever has happened to the Ryan Gauld that set the Premiership alight in his debut season? It took him 18 games to just get his first goal this season which came five games before the end of the season as he struggled to nail a spot down in the side. There's a lot of faith in him though and hopefully he improves next season.
Alen Halilovic - 20/4 - 6.95 - Took a long time to get going this season before establishing himself on the right wing in the latter end of the season. You sense that there is a lot more to come from the 21 year old Croatian who has 11 caps to his name and will be involved in the Croatian squad for the World Cup.
Jordi Corrales - 19/6 - 7.21 - Mikey who? This Spanish forward was signed for £1.1M from Huddersfield after Mikey Drennan joined Celtic and looks to be an absolute find with 6 goals returned from 18 starts. A regular in the Spanish U21's, he may well progress into being a first team star.
Nigel Flynn - 17/0 - Failed to get on the scoresheet in 14 starts but the midfielder has earned two England U21 caps and scored once. Jury is still out on his long term abilities as there are few who label him as overrated.
Charles Banya - 16/0 - 6.38 - Another average season for Banya who came close to reaching a personal best of 24 appearances in a season. Didn't find the net and never looked like doing so. Contract is up next season.
Gary Gardner - 14/2 7.57 - Gardner has looked a lot like his old self back when he first joined us and was a star in one game where he got his only goals of the season. Whether he can keep that going or gets the chance to do so is another question given that his deal is up next season.
Kristian Scott - 8/0 - 6.63 - Had a run of games at the start of the season before the emergence of Jebb and Sbaiz saw him fade from the picture completely. He could still have a part to play at the club though.
Jack Grealish - 7/1 - 6.71 - There's not much to lose when signing a 'freebie' but you sense that Grealish can do a lot better than just one goal and six starts. He also managed 7 caps for Ireland this season.
Jakub Lukowski - 4/0 - 6.00 - A right sided midfielder, Lukowski didn't seem to fit in when making a start and three bench appearances for us but we will give him time to see what he can do.
Ryan Fraser - 2/0 - 6.50 - Earned his first Scotland cap this season but started just once for us this season but he was always on the fringes of the first team. Hopefully he will get more chances next season.
Jordan Keane - 1/0 - 6.00 - A third inherited youth player who will be released upon the expiration of his contract. Keane's one appearance adds to 37 in total and 4 games as he carved out an 'OK' five years at the club.
Tomas Dombrauskis - 0/0 - 0.00 - A central midfielder who hasn't made his debut for the club, Dombrauskis has played 5 times for Lithuania without greatly impressing. We've yet to see whether the former Leicester man will get game time next season.
Matthew Kennedy - 0/0 - 0.00 - After a decent start to his Stoke career, it was disappointing to see Kennedy drop down the pecking order after a loss of form and poor performances in his 5 caps for Northern Ireland this season. His versatility may still prove useful though.
Byron Lawrence - 0/0 - 0.00 - After initial excitment on his arrival three years ago, Lawrence has now played just once in two years and even that was a fleeting appearance as a substitute. He is wanted by other teams and may well seek a move away but has a lot to do if he wants to get back into the first team.
Ryan Tunnicliffe - 0/0 - 0.00 - Competition for a central midfield berth is fierce and as a result, Tunnicliffe has failed to make an appearance this season but has surprisingly been handed a 'B' cap for England. Out of contract next season, he may well find his wishes to move granted in order to cash in before it expires.

Conclusion
As expected, Jordan Keane will be released while the transfer listing of Tomas Dombrauskis and Ryan Tunnicliffe will hopefully cut down the amount of central midfielders on the books. I would like to keep Tunnicliffe but a refusal to open terms on a new deal sees him on the list along with Gary Gardner in the same situation. Joining them is Charles Banya and Nigel Flynn with Banya not progressing as well as we'd hoped over his four years at the club whereas Flynn doesn't look like the real deal. The good news though is that Alen Halilovic would have been out of contract next season and has now signed a 6 year deal.

Strikers
Mason Bennett - 19/18 - 7.88 - After a fantastic loan spell of 11 goals in 11 games, Bennett joined permanently from Celtic for just £975K which seems very well spent as he became the number one striker in the squad and scored 4 goals in the last game of the season! Now let's see if he can keep it up...
Villyan Bijev - 17/5 - 7.35 - There's no doubting the Bulgarian's talents as he had a rich spell before being dropped due to the incoming Mason Bennett.
Andreas Cornelius - 6/1 - 7.00 - After initially sharing duties with Villyan Bijev for the past couple of years, Cornelius has found himself pushed down the pecking order thanks to Bennett. He is still a handy player to have in the squad.
Gentrit Citaku - 3/0 - 6.33 - The Swede that was signed on a Bosman last year has now had a full season at Stoke behind him but is still leaving people undecided over his talents.
Rinor Nushi - 2/0 - 5.50 - A 'freebie' signing after being released by West Ham, Nushi hasn't made the most of his lifeline to stay in the Premiership and is likely to be transfer listed.
Dino Islamovic - 0/0 - 0.00 - Reportedly has all the talent in the world but hasn't yet shown it for Stoke as he completed a third season without making his debut or indeed his first ever career appearance!
David Moberg Karlsson - 0/0 - 0.00 - The Swede looked as though he may force his way into the team last season but didn't get a chance this year although he got 2 caps for Sweden. Contract is up next season so expect a decision on his future.
Adam Thomas - 0/0 - 0.00 - Thomas's contract is finally up and will be released after 1 goal in 3 starts over the past five seasons.
Jack Sampson - 0/0 - 0.00 - Sampson's career continues to stutter at Stoke where has now not played in two years with just one substitute appearance coming before that. Contract is up next season so unless a buyer is found, his days look numbered.
Anthony Watt - 0/0 - 0.00 - Watt's international career seems to be affected by his lack of games at Stoke as he has now played just once for Scotland in three years. He may have the talent but there are too many strikers for just one spot in the team.

Conclusion
Josh Sampson remains on the transfer list but is joined by David Moberg Karlsson who won't discuss new terms. Rinor Nushi hasn't impressed while it is time to let go Anthony Watt so the duo also go on the transfer list. Adam Thomas though, is finally let go after his contract expires.

kuy
27-01-14, 10:56 PM
Far too many strikers there! From the outside, it's a shame to see quality players like Watt and Cornelius not getting much game time but in Hendo we trust!

Redknapp69
28-01-14, 04:10 AM
Agree - 3 good strikers is enough then a young backup or 2

What was Ake's rating?

Doesn't look like any defenders hit an average 7 rating :(

You scouting the World Cup for talent?

Have u maxed out youth facilities and have you tried ground expansion or you not selling out home games?

Bennett deffo stays #1 striker IMO

Kingsley
28-01-14, 08:52 AM
11th place is showing a steady improvement. It is about time that Stoke put together some sort of cup run (I know you won the League Cup in your first season, but I make it just 2 cup matches wons since then)

Agree with others that the squad is too big (disappointed that it didn't work out for Watt). I can't see the average ratings for Ake and Ajayi, but all the other defenders averge under 7. Not good enough. Looks to be several players who are no where near the first team and you wonder what they are doing to deserve the wage.

Looking strong up front with Bennett, Bijev and Cornellius all looking like scoring

Mark
28-01-14, 10:37 AM
Far too many strikers there! From the outside, it's a shame to see quality players like Watt and Cornelius not getting much game time but in Hendo we trust!

How can you play those two when you have players like Bijev and now Bennett delivering the goods anyway? Agree I have too many, every time I shift some on, I sign another 5 :lol:


Agree - 3 good strikers is enough then a young backup or 2

What was Ake's rating?

Doesn't look like any defenders hit an average 7 rating :(

You scouting the World Cup for talent?

Have u maxed out youth facilities and have you tried ground expansion or you not selling out home games?

Bennett deffo stays #1 striker IMO

Sorry, missed Ake's and Ajay's Av-R's. Ake's was 6.93 and Ajayi got 6.60. Charles Dunne got 7.00 but played 3 games :lol:

Of course, I already have one of the new scouts on the job at the World Cup! :)

Missed somewhere that the ground has been expanded a couple of years ago and it was sold out a few times and was expanded again. All without my asking as well! Capacity is now 34383. Youth facilities is adequate and there's no plans to upgrade at the moment according to the board. In fairness, they've spent a few bob on the ground.


11th place is showing a steady improvement. It is about time that Stoke put together some sort of cup run (I know you won the League Cup in your first season, but I make it just 2 cup matches wons since then)

Agree with others that the squad is too big (disappointed that it didn't work out for Watt). I can't see the average ratings for Ake and Ajayi, but all the other defenders averge under 7. Not good enough. Looks to be several players who are no where near the first team and you wonder what they are doing to deserve the wage.

Looking strong up front with Bennett, Bijev and Cornellius all looking like scoring

Looking back, you're not far off.

Won 1 UEFA Cup match, knocked out in the 2nd leg.

Won 3 FA Cup matches (one after a replay).

Not won a single League Cup game since! Shocking statistic!

Squad does look big. I've always had a policy of having 33 players in a squad but this time around, I've snapped up as many youngsters as possible to try and build that title-winning squad. A lot of youngsters are hit and miss hence the big squad.

We don't have a problem with wages though. Of the 49 players in the squad, just 10 are on over 10K a week.

kuy
28-01-14, 12:04 PM
Sounds like you're being very sensible with the wages, which I guess is easier if you're signing youngsters. And it seems to be working too - top half of the table next year?

Mark
28-01-14, 12:11 PM
Fingers crossed. I'd love another crack at Europe too with the squad I have now as I'd practically dismantled my squad when we were in it in season 2 :(

Mark
28-01-14, 12:37 PM
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Potters Announce Retained List

Stoke City boss Mark Henderson has made a start to preparations for a sixth term as manager with the announcement of his retained list for next season. The news confirms the departure of four academy players that were part of Henderson's squad when he took over five years ago.

Ben Heneghan, Callum Bennett, Jordan Keane and Adam Thomas were among a group of inherited youth players that Henderson and Scholes had promised to give a chance of playing time to highlight their 'promoting youth' project. Unfortunately, the quartet didn't quite turn into first team regulars with only Jordan Keane only really given a decent run of games.

Heneghan, now 24 years of age and once an Irish U21 centre back, made 8 starts and 7 appearances from the bench in his first three years at the club before falling out of the picture. Bennett, a versatile defender and midfielder promised big things in a loan spell at Hinckley United but returned to start just four times before joining Heneghan on the sidelines.

Adam Thomas had to wait a year for his debut in the League Cup and endured another year for another start in which he scored before playing just once more. In five years, he played all three games in the League Cup and was another left on the sidelines.

It was a different story for Jordan Keane who like Heneghan, was also once capped for Ireland's under 21's. After a loan spell at Accrington, he went on to play 28 times for the club, scoring four goals in a golden season two years ago. However, he was clearly not the answer in the long term and departs with the club's best wishes.

The departure of the quartet leaves just three players (Jack Butland, Ryan Shotton and Kevin Gomez) that were part of the squad that Mark Henderson took over from Tony Pulis. Reports are circulating Shotton is wanted by New York Red Bulls while Mexican outfit Chivas Guadaljara are tabling an offer for Gomez.

The full retained list is provided in alphabetical order:

Semi Ajayi
Nathan Aké
Charles Banya
Mason Bennett
Gael Bigirimana
Villyan Bijev
Jack Butland
Graham Carr
Dan Cass
Gentrit Citaku
Andreas Cornelius
Jordi Corrales
Tomas Dombrauskis
Charles Dunne
Nigel Flynn
Ryan Fraser
Gary Gardner
Ryan Gauld
Kevin Gómez
Jack Grealish
Alen Halilovic
Charlie Horton
Dino Islamovic
Jack Jebb
Junior Malanda
Matthew Kennedy
Byron Lawrence
Jakub Lukowski
Justin Marshall
David Moberg Karlsson
Garry Morley
Rinor Nushi
Max Oberschmidt
Michal Olczak
Rhys Riley
Jack Sampson
Lubomir Satka
Bernard Sbaiz
Kristian Scott
Ryan Shotton
John Souttar
Adam Thompson
Ryan Tunnicliffe
Anthony Watt
Greg White

Mark
28-01-14, 12:52 PM
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Gómez Departs as Hurst Arrives

Dutch full-back Kevin Gómez has today completed a £650,000 transfer to Chivas Guadalajara where he will link up with compatriot and fellow defender Nick Viergever. Former Dutch international John van 't Schip is now manager of the Mexican side and has followed the progress of Gómez from afar since his time as assistant manager of Holland.

The full-back, who leaves only Jack Butland and Ryan Shotton as inherited players for Henderson, leaves on the back of 46 starts and two goals for Stoke in a spell of four years after spending his first year at the club on loan at Solihull. The former U21 international is now 24 and has found opportunities in the first team a rarity with just three appearances in the past two years alone.

The departure of Gómez comes on the same day as the arrival of Henderson's first signing of the season in striker Matt Hurst. The 21 year old arrives from Third Division Cheltenham where he has spent the past four years scoring goals for fun since breaking on the scene as a 17 year old. In 177 games, he has scored an impressive 73 goals while also making 22 assists.

His arrival increases the number of strikers on the book at the club to 10 after Adam Thomas recently left the club. It is understood that Henderson pipped a number of clubs for Hurst's signature and hopes he will push the likes of Mason Bennett, Villyan Bijev, Dino Islamovic, Gentrit Citaku and Andreas Cornelius for a start in the team.

Although 10 players are indeed on the books, the signature may be explained by the fact that Rinor Nushi, David Moberg Karlsson, Anthony Watt and Jack Sampson have all been made available for transfer.

Mark
28-01-14, 01:05 PM
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Gael Bigirimana Honoured

24 year old defensive midfielder Gael Bigirimana has today been named as the 'Stoke City Player of the Year' by supporters who have recognised the hard work that he does for the team.

Players of Bigirimana's nature, who is still eligible to play for either England or Burundi internationally, often go under the radar as others grab the headlines for their match winning performances. But Stoke City supporters have always appreciated a player who works hard for the team and the midfielder, who is just three matches shy of reaching 100 starts for the club, has spoken of his delight at the award.

"I cannot thank the fans enough for picking me to win this award. It is true that I like to do the dirty work in the team and let others get forward on the pitch and it is something that isn't always picked up on by supporters but this award shows me that I made the right decision to come here when I left Newcastle."

When asked if he harboured any ambition to play for his country, the 24 year old replied "I think there is always hope that I can play for England. Burundi have been in contact with my agent a few times about playing for them but I think it's only right that I represent the country that I grew up in which is why I was happy to play for the England U20's. I am still quite young so I hope that there is still time to do so."

The combative midfielder, who has picked up 28 yellow cards and a red card in his Stoke career alone admits that he still has work to do to improve his game. "There are two things that I know I have to work on and that is my discipline on the pitch. I actually think referees can be biased sometimes due to the way I play on the pitch and they blow a foul against me quite a lot. But I know that I can improve there and also with my finishing too. I actually think I'm quite good at hitting the target but for some reason, the ball never goes in. I was very happy to get my first goal for the club this season though and hope to score a lot more. It was a great feeling to score in front of our fans and I hope to repay them for this award with more goals."

The £1M signing scored his only goal for the club back in December in a 3-1 win over Wigan where Mason Bennett had put the club 2-0 ahead only for Wigan to reply before half-time. Bigirmana's goal, a header from a corner by the now departed Josh Carson saw him celebrate by running into the supporters which of course, saw Lee Mason issue him with a customary yellow card.

kuy
28-01-14, 02:01 PM
Another striker :D

JLa
28-01-14, 02:24 PM
Wow, massive writing going on. This gets me in the mood for some serious CM'ing. :) One thing though, I don't understand why you don't change your tactic? You've been in charge for four-five seasons and bought a load of players without really getting anywhere. I'm not saying you should download an Iodine or anything, but clearly that 4-5-1 isn't doing too well. Why not build a new tactic?

Mark
28-01-14, 02:29 PM
Another striker :D

:D I always try and snap up players if there's competition in them. This one caught my eye a while ago so I thought it's worth the gamble. Again, wages/fee is peanuts so always worth the risk :ok:


Wow, massive writing going on. This gets me in the mood for some serious CM'ing. :) One thing though, I don't understand why you don't change your tactic? You've been in charge for four-five seasons and bought a load of players without really getting anywhere. I'm not saying you should download an Iodine or anything, but clearly that 4-5-1 isn't doing too well. Why not build a new tactic?

I've always preferred to use my own 4-5-1. Occasionally, I'll try something new but will always come back to the 4-5-1. It's just a favourite of mine in the way players are set up and does get me results with the right players. It's just a matter of getting those players as the under 22 restriction makes it harder to build the squad that can get instant results.

JLa
28-01-14, 03:23 PM
Ah, I hadn't noticed the under 22-restriction.

Mark
28-01-14, 03:34 PM
Ah, I hadn't noticed the under 22-restriction.

There's always some sort of challenge involved as far as a story of mine is concerned :D

Mark
28-01-14, 04:29 PM
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Further Departures

Stoke boss Mark Henderson admitted that he was struggling to find potential signings as he looks to improve on his current playing squad after seeing no less than ten players sever their ties at the Britannia Stadium which takes the total number of departed players to fifteen, reducing the size of the Stoke squad to 36 players.

Non-league side York City completed a shock £700,000 deal for defender Adam Thompson which represents a loss for the club after investing £1.2M in the Northern Ireland international three years ago. The 23 capped defender has made 78 appearances for the club without truly establishing himself in the back four.

A £200,000 profit was made though on centre midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe as he agreed a £2M switch to Championship side Nottm Forest. It completed a miserable end to his time at the Britannia Stadium for Tunnicliffe who had intially scored 5 times in 40 appearances in his first two years at the club before failing to make an appearance in his final two years.

24 year old winger Charles Banya was the next to leave as Peterborough completed a £950K deal for a player who arrived from Fulham for £300K three years ago. Originally hailed as an exciting prospect, Banya scored 4 goals in 19 appearances in his debut season before scoring just once in 47 games over the course of the following three seasons.

Goalkeeper Michal Olczak completed a £950K move to Schalke 04 in a move in which he hopes boosts his chances of a first cap for Poland. Just 10 months after signing for £675K from Walsall, Olczak made only 5 starts (plus two appearances from the bench after red cards to the number one) and conceded 10 goals.

There was also a short stay for Nigel Flynn who despite being recognised by the England U21 squad after his £120K arrival from Shrewsbury, he didn't do enough to avoid being sold on to Rochdale for £1.5M after failing to score and managing just one assist in 17 appearances.

Reducing the number of strikers at Stoke to 9, David Moberg Karlsson sealed a move to Ipswich for a decent £1.5M fee which is an impressive £300K profit for a player who played only 18 games with just 7 being starts. The return of 3 goals in that time wasn't so impressive and he links up with former striker Valentin Hayoz who scored 10 times for Ipswich last season in 34 games.

Henderson also admitted that he was particularly disappointed to lose duo Byron Lawrence and Gary Gardner to promoted side Leicester City who also have former striker Kenwyne Jones on their books and Southampton. Lawrence exercised an option in his unprotected contract to make a £1.1M switch after just 2 starts and 11 appearances from the bench in his three years at the club following the 22 year old midfielder's £825K switch from Ipswich. Gardner did likewise to seal a £2.3M transfer which is a great profit on the £625K given to Aston Villa when he became only Henderson's second signing. Gardner played 78 times, scoring 18 goals and looked to have recently fought his way back into the first team after a spell out of the game.

One player that Henderson will be happy to see depart is Ryan Shotton who had been transfer listed for the entirety of Henderson's reign to date. Bristol City forked out £500K for the right back who now leaves only Jack Butland as the only player left from Tony Pulis's squad. The 29 year old played sporadically over the years, rattling up 34 starts but hadn't featured in over two years.

Left-back Charles Dunne also completed a £675K move to MK Dons in the Championship. The 25 year old arrived from Blackpool as a first choice left back, making 34 appearances in 18 months for the club but started just three games in the following two years.

Henderson also confirmed that the club had rejected offers from Huddersfield for goalkeeper Justin Marshall and Leicester for midfielder Jack Jebb.

Speaking of the club's failure to add to the arrival of striker Matt Hurst, Henderson said "We have been on the look out and especially at the World Cup but there does seem to be a lack of talent that can genuinely improve this squad out there. Our scout came back without any players that had played that were under age of 22 which may just be the way the game is at the moment. We did come close to landing two players after Jon Stockton (a 21 year old right-back released by Brighton) failed a medical and Patrick Yilmaz (a 20 year old Polish winger) chose to join Lazio over us so we have been trying but unfortunately, the balls have just not dropped into place yet. We'll certainly keep looking though."

He also confirmed that Nathan Aké, target of bids by Ajax and Liverpool, had agreed a 2 year extension to his current contract that ties the Dutch international to the club for the next six years.

"Nathan is symbolic of the job that we're trying to do here at Stoke. We invested heavily in him and he's shown why at the World Cup after helping Holland to the World Cup! As a result, I'm delighted to see that he's seen the vision that we have and will come back to us with his medal."

In a round-up of the other Stoke players at the World Cup, Charlie Horton was an unused substitute for all four of USA's games as they were defeated 1-0 by Uruguay in the 2nd Round. Junior Malanda's Belgium failed to progress from a group containing England as he started games against our nation and Poland in a 1-1 draw and a shock 2-0 defeat. Croatia too were unable to progress as they lost 3-0 to Germany, 2-0 to Mexico and 1-0 to Chile with Alen Halilovic starting twice and making an appearance from the bench against Germany. Denmark also failed to find the net in defeats to Spain, Egypt and Switzerland as they lost all three games with Andreas Cornelius starting twice and coming on as a substitute. Finally, Dino Islamovic represented Montenegro as another nation who failed to win at the World Cup and lost to Brazil, Ivory Coast and Japan. The striker was an unused sub for the first two defeats but played the majority of the game against Japan as they lost 1-0.

Meanwhile, the retirement of physiotherapist Richard Harper at 63 years of age has led to the appointment of Simon Maltby as a new physio with Hartlepool being paid £35K in compensation.

Stoke have also confirmed an unusual step of arranging a friendly for the first time since Henderson's first season began with a 2-2 draw at Leeds United. Relegated side West Ham will be the hosts as Stoke start their pre-season preparations with 26 days left until the kick off at Swansea which will make a change from taking place on the final day of the season.

kuy
28-01-14, 04:54 PM
Shame to see Gardner go, apart from that it sounds mostly like you're clearing out the dead wood. Did Ake play much at the World Cup?

Mark
28-01-14, 04:59 PM
Shame to see Gardner go, apart from that it sounds mostly like you're clearing out the dead wood. Did Ake play much at the World Cup?

I am gutted in the same way as Drennan to lose him but what can you do? All I can say is that the only positive is the reduced amount of players at the club now :ok:

Ake started the campaign as defensive midfielder in wins over Finland and South Korea, creating an assist in the last game before being benched for the final group game against USA and the 2nd Round game against Russia in which he didn't play in both games. He was back in the side at centre-back for a 1-0 win over Argentina in the quarter-final, keeping Messi and Aguero at bay and scored in the semi final in a 2-1 win over Spain! Yet despite those exploits, he was an unused sub in a 1-0 final win over England!

Safe to say, we can be very proud of our player though :)

Mark
28-01-14, 05:51 PM
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A New Face at West Ham

Stoke City boss completed the £2.8M signature of Luciano Macri from Charlton and immediately thrust him into action at West Ham United where the 19 year old lined up on the right wing with Ryan Gauld in the middle and Jordi Corrales on the opposite flank.

The Italian teenager, who'd scored four times for Charlton over two seasons of 10 starts and 19 bench appearances, made an impression in creating a goal for Jordi Corrales which cancelled out Nicklas Bendtner's opener for the Hammers.

But Macri dealt Henderson a blow after pulling up with a thigh injury which forced him off the pitch ten minutes later as Bendtner restored the advantage on the half hour with Jack Butland failing to deal with a cross from Andy Carroll. Alen Halilovic was chosen to replace Macri and within five minutes, the game was level once again with Jack Jebb, preferred over Bernard Sbaiz in the heart of defence, crashing home another equaliser after Graham Carr had played the ball ahead from right-back.

Carr was looking solid in a defence that consisted of Dan Cass and World Cup stars Nathan Aké and Junior Malanda in the middle. After half-time, Stoke continued to probe at West Ham with Emiliano Viviano tested by Gael Bigirimana's fierce shot while Jebb, Gauld, Corrales and Mason Bennett all came close to handing a first lead to Stoke.

As expected in a friendly, the intensity wouldn't last as changes started to be made and fans were treated to a rare appearance for Ryan Fraser who replaced Jordi Corrales on the left wing.

Further changes were made during a slow end to the game in which Semi Ajayi, John Souttar and Bernard Sbaiz found themselves given some playing time in place of Dan Cass, Gael Bigirmana and Jebb.

The 2-2 result was meaningless but the friendly wasn't as it served his purpose and gave fans a glimpse of the side expected to start the season at Swansea. Only Jack Butland was a worry as he endured a nervy 45 minutes but did improve as the game went on.

It was particularly important to note the performance of Graham Carr who, after the departures of Callum Bennett, Kevin Gómez, Adam Thompson and Ryan Shotton, has suddenly become the only right-back contracted to the club. It is for this reason that Henderson was disappointed to see Jon Stockton fail his medical last week.

News of Luciano Macri's injury was not great as an assessment of his injury revealed that he'd pulled his hamstring which rules him out of Stoke's start to the season. He was also a doubt for the first home game of the season against Watford and possibly the following away game at Southampton.

Mark
28-01-14, 06:06 PM
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Scholar Given Professional Deal

A 16 year old defender has been handed a professional contract as Stoke City manager was unable to add to his squad in the days leading up to the start of the new season at Swansea City.

Robert Peake is a natural right-sided defender handed a four year contract in order to act as backup to fellow academy graduate Graham Carr for the upcoming season.

"I am disappointed that I have been unable to add to our squad before the first game of the season but I have every faith that the players we have left at the club will be able to get us the results required, as ever. However, we are firm advocates of giving academy boys a good chance at this football club as you have see over the years and Peake is the latest although at 16, we will go easy on him for a few years yet!"

Henderson confirmed that Anthony Watt had completed the paperwork that seals a £500,000 transfer to Bournemouth before the weekend, bringing an end to a spell where the striker had few chances to appear in the first team having started just once and made 10 appearances from the bench. "I do feel sorry for Anthony and have agreed to him go in good faith so he can get his career going again, as shown by letting him go at a loss of £300K. He has been a credit though and has always worked hard in training but has just found opportunities hard to come by."

The sale of Watt brings down the amount of strikers on the books at the Britannia Stadium to eight.

Meanwhile, Henderson confirmed that he'd turned down a series of three bids from Watford for goalkeeper Justin Marshall, who seems set to start the season as backup to Jack Butland.

kuy
28-01-14, 06:57 PM
Be interesting to see how Watt does if he gets games at Bournemouth. Lucky to get a right-back through the academy!

Kingsley
28-01-14, 09:44 PM
Miss a day and it's all change. Plenty of deadwood gone so places available to fill. I'd have liked to have seen Watt given a chance but he istoo good to have getting splinters in his bum

2 academy graduates at right back ..... I hope your graduates are better than the ones I get.

Redknapp69
29-01-14, 02:41 AM
Aye - shame about Gardner - did you miss his contract being unprotected?
Exciting new season ahead! :ok:

Mark
29-01-14, 10:36 AM
Be interesting to see how Watt does if he gets games at Bournemouth. Lucky to get a right-back through the academy!

Very lucky! I'll try and keep an eye on Watt and see how he does.


Miss a day and it's all change. Plenty of deadwood gone so places available to fill. I'd have liked to have seen Watt given a chance but he istoo good to have getting splinters in his bum

2 academy graduates at right back ..... I hope your graduates are better than the ones I get.

Got better options, I'm afraid! Shame I never got to give him a good chance though.

Carr has been decent enough. Peake doesn't look up to much at the moment but hopefully he'll improve over the years.


Aye - shame about Gardner - did you miss his contract being unprotected?
Exciting new season ahead! :ok:

I never miss unprotected contracts. Players just sometimes don't want to talk on a new deal so I put them on the list if they're contract is up the following year.

Redknapp69
29-01-14, 10:44 AM
How is our friend Jordan Pickford doing?! :)

Mark
29-01-14, 01:34 PM
How is our friend Jordan Pickford doing?! :)

Surprisingly... Or not so surprisingly, the now 24 year old Jordan Pickford is no longer playing for Sheffield United to whom he was sold from Stoke for £575K. He spent two years at the first division side, playing only four games in his first year, conceding six goals before he was sold to Bristol City for £210K.

He is still playing at the same level though as Bristol City are also in the First Division and he started just 9 times, conceding 12 goals for them in his debut season which is the season just gone.

He has been made available for loan and is "having trouble motivating himself". He also thinks his manager (Mark Hughes) is misjudging his ability and has 7 other goalkeepers to compete with! I thought my striker collecting was bad :lol:

Kingsley
29-01-14, 02:05 PM
Wow, massive writing going on. This gets me in the mood for some serious CM'ing. :) One thing though, I don't understand why you don't change your tactic? You've been in charge for four-five seasons and bought a load of players without really getting anywhere. I'm not saying you should download an Iodine or anything, but clearly that 4-5-1 isn't doing too well. Why not build a new tactic?

I think you miss the point (well to me if not to Mark. We all know how easy it is to generate a super tactic (or just nick someones) and be able to rape the game and win the Champions League every year. I like it that this is not Mark's approach. With the 4-5-1 it is both realistic in how a midtable side would play and allows to improve the club's status through the buying and selling of players. If you get the players right he has proven it can be a winner, but get them wrong and relegation looms.

It is this refreshing approach that makes these stories so popular and readable (even if I do shout "download Iodine" occasionally)

Mark
29-01-14, 03:03 PM
I think you miss the point (well to me if not to Mark. We all know how easy it is to generate a super tactic (or just nick someones) and be able to rape the game and win the Champions League every year. I like it that this is not Mark's approach. With the 4-5-1 it is both realistic in how a midtable side would play and allows to improve the club's status through the buying and selling of players. If you get the players right he has proven it can be a winner, but get them wrong and relegation looms.

It is this refreshing approach that makes these stories so popular and readable (even if I do shout "download Iodine" occasionally)

Couldn't agree more :)

Mark
29-01-14, 03:24 PM
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Nightmare at the Liberty

Stoke City's opening game at Swansea City resulted in a defensive nightmare for their manager as Jack Butland and Nathan Aké suffered a horror show at the hands of 21 year old English striker Ryan Drysdale and Swansea's debutant defender Bongani Khumalo.

The game at The Liberty Stadium was just six minutes old when Swansea registered their first shot at goal as Drysdale attempted an audacious chip over Stoke captain Butland but the 1 time capped England goalkeeper held his ground well to save and hold on to the ball in the air.

However, a goal was found past Butland after half an hour following a handball by Ryan Gauld from which Khumalo found himself with plenty of time to meet the delivery from Besart Abdurahimi with second attempt at goal.

Five minutes later, a ball threaded through by Ulrik Jenssen was picked up by Drysdale who lost his marker (Aké) and scored after taking just one touch.

There was hope for the visiting Potters' side who were not out of the game by any means as Jordi Corrales embarked on a run down the left wing before whipping in a fast ball met by Gauld with a header after a late run into the penalty area.

However, directly before the half-time whistle, Swansea managed a fourth shot at goal as Steven Fletcher played in strike partner Drysdale with a pass that allowed the England under-21 star to fire the ball past Butland into the bottom left corner.

It was a severe blow to the hopes of a Stoke City comeback with Swansea scoring three goals after just four shots. Yet for the remainder of the game, they failed to add to that statistic as Stoke City clearly dominated the match with 8 shots on target from 18 attempts yet only Gauld's effort found a way past 22 year old goalkeeper Dean Campbell.

The introduction of Dan Cass for Gael Bigirimana saw Junior Malanda move into a defensive midfield role had helped to shore up the leaky defence in the second half as Swansea were pegged inside their own half. Efforts from Gauld along with Malanda, Semi Ajayi, Jack Jebb, Mason Bennett and Corrales were all saved by Campbell with Aké and Alen Halilovic sending the ball off target.

Attacking wise, it was a good display for Henderson to reflect on. Defensively, there was clearly work to do as the defeat leaves Stoke 15th in the table as the season gets firmly underway with Huddersfield, Tottenham, Fulham, Newcastle, West Brom, Derby and Everton also suffering defeats.

Final Score: Swansea City 3:1 Stoke City
Man of the Match: Ryan Drysdale
Cautioned: Ryan Gauld
Attendance: 20,496

Jack Butland 5, Graham Carr 6, Nathan Aké 5, Junior Malanda 7, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 7 (Dan Cass 7), Ryan Gauld 8, Jack Jebb 7, Alen Halilovic 7, Mason Bennett 7, Jordi Corrales 6.

Kingsley
29-01-14, 03:33 PM
Same old same old.

Swansea are the sort of side you should be beating this year. Butland and Ake (Billy "I won the world cup" Bigtime) need to take a long hard look at themselves.

Mark
29-01-14, 03:49 PM
They certainly do! I was very disappointed to see Aké struggle so much. Butland had a bad start in the friendly against West Ham too which hasn't done himself any favours with Justin Marshall breathing down his neck.

Mark
29-01-14, 03:50 PM
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Continental Flavour

With the European Championship Qualifying fixtures fast approaching, Stoke City have seen 14 players called up for their respective nations.

Villyan Bijev will be hoping to reach a landmark 10 international goals if selected for his 27th cap for Bulgaria in their Group 1 Qualifier against Greence.

Strikers Rinor Nushi and Gentrit Citaku have not had a taste of first team football for quite some time but that has not stopped Sweden manager Stig Fredriksson from selecting the duo for their Group 2 Qualifiers against Portugal and Malta. Citaku had earned a debut cap last season as a substitute whereas Nushi has not yet made his first appearance for his country.

Jack Grealish continues to be selected by Owen Coyle for Ireland who are also in Group 2 of the Qualifiers along with Sweden as they prepare for fixtures against Finland and Luxembourg. Grealish has been a regular in the Irish midfield and will be looking to impress on his 22nd cap in order to fight his way back into his Stoke manager's plans.

Group 3 contains World Cup winners Holland and Nathan Aké is called up despite a poor start to his season. The Dutch will face FYROM as Aké hopes to earn his 31st cap.

Croatia start their campaign against Turkey and Estonia in Group 7 where Alen Halilovic has high hopes of earning a 13th cap and finally scoring his first international goal. The 22 year old has struggled to establish himself as a regular but after a poor World Cup performance, it is said that Igor Stimac is looking to introduce some youth to his national side.

A veteran of 42 caps for Belgium despite being 23 years of age, Junior Malanda has once again been called up by Marc Wilmots for Group 7 Qualifiers against Estonia and San Marino. Malanda is often selected as a defensive midfielder by Wilmots but is preferred at centre-back by Henderson.

Lithuania and England make up the remaining two sides in Group 7 and for the former, Tomas Dombrauskis is expected to make a 23rd appearance for his country in midfield against San Marino and Turkey. The 21 year old joined Stoke last season and has yet to make his debut for the club.

There is a shock at the club but great news as Jack Butland and Mason Bennett are part of the England squad named by Nigel Pearson to face Azerbaijan in their European Qualifier. Former Potter Ryan Shawcross is also part of the squad with 10 caps to his name after four years at Liverpool as a regular.

Another who has yet to feature for Stoke is Dino Islamovic who made an appearance at the World Cup for Montenegro. He is called up for a Group 8 Qualifier against Denmark and hopes to earn a 7th cap having scored three in six.

If selected, Islamovic could face fellow rival Andreas Cornelius who is involved in the Denmark squad for their Group 8 fixtures against Hungary as well as Montenegro. The 25 year old has already accumulated 40 caps for the Danes and will be hoping for two displays that will result in a start ahead of Mason Bennett after his return.

Another who hopes that his international displays will see a return to the first team is Matthew Kennedy who is selected by Michael O'Neill for the Northern Ireland squad. The 23 year old forward has 24 caps to his name and has not played for Stoke for over a year. Also named in the squad for their Group 8 games against Hungary and Germany are former Potters Adam Thompson (who recently joined York, scoring one in three games from defence) and Josh Carson (who has yet to start for Q.P.R. since leaving Stoke last year, playing just four times from the bench).

There's also a 'Battle of Britain' clash as Scotland face Wales in a friendly for which Stoke have seen Ryan Gauld, Ryan Fraser and John Souttar all called up who have seven caps between them (Gauld 6, Fraser 1, Souttar 0). Gauld has recently looked reinvigorated after scoring his first goal of the season already at Swansea after managing just one all season last year. Fraser and Souttar have both fallen out of the picture in the first team at Stoke and if selected, may do their chances of a recall no harm if they impress the watching Henderson.

The most selected Stoke players in a squad though is for the England Under 21's as Justin Marshall, Graham Carr, Dan Cass and Matt Hurst are all named to play against Azerbaijan. Cass and Carr has been a part of the squad before whereas Marshall has earned a 'B' cap but it is a first call up for Hurst who only a few months ago was playing in the Third Division for Cheltenham.

Finally, there is a call up for the Spanish under-21's as Jordi Corrales will be hoping to feature against Romania and Iceland. The forward joins former Potter Jonathan Valls in the squad who makes first appearance following an impressive start to the season for Bournemouth in the heart of their defence. The 20 year old started 44 times last season following a £750K transfer and has made two appearances this season.

Meanwhile, Mark Henderson has confirmed that Rhys Riley has become the 17th player to leave the club since the end of last season after sealing a £100,000 move to Sheffield United which ends almost two years at Stoke during which the 19 year old featured 25 times and made four appearances for the England U21's following a £35K transfer from Doncaster.

Mark
29-01-14, 04:09 PM
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Wednesday Fright

Stoke City manager outlined his fury at the performance at Swansea City by making two changes to his squad as culprits Jack Butland and Nathan Aké found themselves dropped from the starting eleven and replaced by Justin Marshall and Dan Cass.

The change also saw Butland relinquish the captaincy to Croatian Alen Halilovic as he was not even named on the bench with 22 year old American goalkeeper Charlie Horton named as backup.

Up against a side in Watford at the Britannia Stadium, who were promoted into the Premiership, Henderson had targeted this game as a game to kick start their season but was furious to witness his side again leak three goals to find themselves again 3-1 down by the half-time whistle.

Fortunately, the players at the other end of the pitch came up with the goods this time to ensure they did not start their home campaign with a defeat.

It had all started rather well with Ross Turnbull saving efforts at goal from Jack Jebb while Mason Bennett sent two shots off target before he finally found the net with a great finish after great work in skipping past three players before firing in his first goal of the season.

But the lead lasted just two minutes before Watford found a response and a cross from Kieron Freeman was met by striker Chris Martin who outjumped Gael Bigirimana to head the ball past the stranded Marshall.

Things then went from bad to worse for Marshall after a clearance from Cass was retrieved by Derek Cook whose pumped ball into the box saw another head, this time from Anders Kondradsen, sail over Marshall and into the net.

Watford were clearly taking the game to the home side and before long, both full-backs in Cass and Graham Carr found themselves in the referees notebook for unnecessary fouls on their opponents.

Then, just as they had done at Swansea four days ago, Stoke conceded a third goal right before the interval when Watford's Lewis McGugan took a quick free-kick that led to a knock-down by Konradsen converted by Tomasz Jodlowiec.

Stoke's frustrations were evidence after the break when Bennett was booked for a needless shove on Finney but two minutes later, they found themselves back in the game.

Good work between Bennett and Ryan Gauld saw the latter dawdle on the ball outside the penalty area, drawing in three defenders before laying the ball right to Jack Jebb who scored what is becoming a trademark low drive from outside the box.

Watford were clearly knocked back and forced to make changes with an injury to McGugan while Henderson preferred not to make any changes of his own as he encouraged his troops to rally for a third goal and an equaliser.

His troops did just that as a long free-kick delivered by Semi Ajayi looked to be heading for the Watford goalkeepers hands but Bennett raced for the ball at the same time to beat Turnbull to the ball and head it over the goalkeeper for an emphatic equaliser.

It was enough to secure a point although there was time for Watford's Cook to rattle the outside of the post that may well have led to a winner. The point keeps Stoke 15th in the table along with Aston Villa, Newcastle and Leicester only managing a draw so far this season.

Final Score: Stoke City 3:3 Watford
Man of the Match: Mason Bennett
Cautioned: Dan Cass, Graham Carr, Mason Bennett
Attendance: 31,203

Justin Marshall 6, Graham Carr 7, Dan Cass 6, Junior Malanda 7, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 8, Ryan Gauld 7, Jack Jebb 8, Alen Halilovic 7, Mason Bennett 9, Jordi Corrales 7.

BobMem
29-01-14, 04:53 PM
I think you miss the point (well to me if not to Mark. We all know how easy it is to generate a super tactic (or just nick someones) and be able to rape the game and win the Champions League every year. I like it that this is not Mark's approach. With the 4-5-1 it is both realistic in how a midtable side would play and allows to improve the club's status through the buying and selling of players. If you get the players right he has proven it can be a winner, but get them wrong and relegation looms.

It is this refreshing approach that makes these stories so popular and readable (even if I do shout "download Iodine" occasionally)

Absolutely. Wouldn't be a Henderson story without a ridiculous mid-season run of defeats against teams around him in the table!

Mark
29-01-14, 04:57 PM
:lol: Thanks guys, love the faith you have in me :P

Mark
29-01-14, 05:05 PM
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Third Goalkeeper Starts

Stoke City's trip to Southampton for their third league game saw a third different goalkeeper start the season after Jack Butland and Justin Marshall both conceded three goals in each of their games. The position has now been handed to Charlie Horton for only his 22nd start in under two years at the club.

There was also a return to the squad on the bench for fit again Luciano Macri, a £2.8M signing in the Summer who had been injured on his debut in a friendly at West Ham.

The prospect of a first clean sheet was blown away within seconds of the kick off at St. Mary's as Charlie Austin found the net after starting despite reports of a troublesome ankle injury. Southampton's manager Phillip Cocu also named former Stoke midfielder Gary Gardner as part of the starting line-up for his league debut after starting three times in the Inter-Toto Cup.

Gardner was not involved in the opener. Instead, it was Dejan Lovren whose sprayed ball for Adam Lallana resulted in the Southampton skipper knocking the ball down for Austin, a £3.6M Summer signing from Liverpool, to wrong foot his man and score past Horton.

Henderson was left infuriated a few minutes later though not with his players. A free-kick taken by Jack Jebb looked as though it'd be claimed by Mason Bennett but Saints goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny hauled the striker down before he could do so. Henderson was spotted arguing for several moments with fourth official Stuart Atwell after the referee issued only a yellow card to the Polish goalkeeper.

Fortunately for him, captain Alen Halilovic took it upon himself to take the spot-kick and dutifully converted the penalty even after being ordered to do a retake after Atwell claimed Dedryck Boyata had encroached the area before the Croatian put his foot to the ball.

Atwell was doing himself no favours for the remainder of the first half after correctly booking Fabian Delph for holding back Halilovic before wrong issuing a foul to Lovren which prompted another touchline argument, this time with Cocu.

The ineptness of the refereeing in the game spoilt the contest somewhat as neither side truly failed to carve out a decent chance in the remainder of the game as it ended 1-1.

Horton was on hand to stop efforts from Gardner himself before he was withdrawn and replaced by Roy Beerens with Boban Lazic also replaced by Wilfried Zaha.

For Stoke, Henderson took off Gael Bigirimana and Jordi Corrales with 15 minutes left to play as Macri made his official debut from the bench along with a return to action for Nathan Aké but neither play could inspire the visitors to a winner.

The second successive draw moves Stoke up a place into 14th with Tottenham, Huddersfield and Everton making up the bottom three having yet to get a point on the board.

Final Score: Southampton 1:1 Stoke City
Man of the Match: Adam Lallana
Cautioned: Wojciech Szczesny, Fabain Delph, Dejan Lovren
Attendance: 38,673

Charlie Horton 8, Graham Carr 5, Dan Cass 7, Junior Malanda 8, Semi Ajayi 6, Gael Bigirimana 6 (Nathan Aké 6), Ryan Gauld 6, Jack Jebb 7, Alen Halilovic 7, Mason Bennett 7, Jordi Corrales 7 (Luciano Macri 7).

Mark
29-01-14, 05:20 PM
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Gauld Commits to Potters

Stoke City have today announced that 22 year old midfielder Ryan Gauld has committed his immediate future to the club by signing a three year contract.

It is reported that Gauld's contract had become unprotected and manager Mark Henderson moved fast to tie the forward down to a new deal in order to avoid a scenario that has seen Gary Gardner and Mikey Drennan walk away in similar circumstances.

Henderson has however, declined to confirm that the contract includes a buyout clause reported to be £10,000,000 for the 6 capped Scottish player who has played every minute of Stoke's season to date, scoring at Swansea and responsible for creating Jack Jebb's goal against Watford.

"I am absolutely delighted to have signed Ryan down for another three years. He's a player that we snapped up three years ago knowing that he had the potential to become one of the best players in the league and he certainly did that in his first year with us. By his own admission, he's had a tricky couple of years as he's continued to learn the game at this level but he is showing signs of his maturity in the games so far this season."

Gauld spoke to the Stoke Sentinel newspaper after his training session this morning. "I had no hesitation in signing a new deal here. It took a little while to sort out but I had every faith that the club and my agent would get something agreed as I never even thought about leaving. I recognise that the gaffer put his faith in me after my move to Nottm Forest didn't work out and I'll be forever grateful for the opportunity that saw me pick up the players young player of the year trophy. I've been here for three years now and that's the last trophy I won so I want to get back to doing what I did before to earn that".

Meanwhile, the Football League have confirmed that Stoke's home clash against Newport County has been scheduled for live coverage on Sky Sports. The club have failed to progress beyond the 2nd Round of the League Cup since Henderson won the trophy in his first year at the club and the prospect of being beaten again by a Third Division outfit has clearly enticed Sky to broadcast this particular fixture.

Kingsley
29-01-14, 05:37 PM
Will there be an 0102Bet thread opened for this League Cup tie ? I'm putting a major wedge of Newport.

Mark
29-01-14, 06:03 PM
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International Reports

Stoke City's national representatives made a fine start as Jordi Corrales was named as captain for the Spanish Under 21's at Romania where he scored after just six minutes. Osasuna's Josu Mendiguren added a second goal before Almeria's unfortunate left-back Javi Sierra's own goal meant that they failed to record a clean sheet. Corrales was again named as captain with Spain thrashing Iceland 5-0 and created the assist for the 5th goal with a cross for Middlesbrough's Toni Blanco.

The quartet selected for the England Under 21's all played in a 3-0 win over Azerbaijan too as Justin Marshall kept a clean sheet with Dan Cass and Graham Carr starting in defence with the latter booked and withdrawn on the 69th minute. Matt Hurst was given his debut at half-time, replacing Liverpool's Jordan Dempsey up-front but failed to find the net. The goals were scored by that man Ryan Drysdale of Swansea who converted two penalties with Anton Talbot of Norwich scoring the third.

The 'Battle of Britain' ended up as a thriller as Scotland and Wales scored three goals each in their friendly. The Scottish trio of Stoke players all played a part in the game as Ryan Gauld started the game and saw his shot parried away by Christian Dibble that allowed Scotland to open the scoring through Scott Brown. John Jenkins soon equalised for Wales but Gauld was in the thick of the action again as he provided an assist for Josh McEachran to restore the hosts lead. No Wales game would be right without a goal from Gareth Bale and he delivered just before the second half before Ryan Fraser came on to replace McEachran. Russell Martin and Tom Lawrence both scored the final goals of the game for their countries as John Souttar was handed his debut in injury time!

Villyan Bijev's hopes of scoring a 10th goal for Bulgaria and pushing himself into the Stoke team were dashed after just five minutes as Stefan Velev was sent off for Bulgaria. It ultimately led to his withdrawal from the pitch as Bulgaria managed to keep the scores level for the remainder of the game. The defeats puts Bulgaria 3rd in their 5 team group with a game in hand.

There was joy for Jack Grealish though who put in a starring performance at Finland to help his country to a 2-1 win. Finland took the lead through Teemu Pukki but the Irish fightback began with an equaliser from Donal McDermott before Grealish himself set up the winner for Aidy White to score a memorable goal on his debut. He took a back seat though in a 2-0 win over Luxembourg in which he played the full game and the goals were scored again by Donal McDermott and the other by Conor Clifford which leaves Ireland top of their group.

Rinor Nushi and Gentrit Citaku were both left disappointed as unused substitutes for Sweden's 0-0 draw against Portugal and 2-0 win over Malta which puts their nation 2nd behind Ireland in their group.

Junior Malanda's usual position in the Belgian side was given to Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe as Belgian defeated Estonia 3-0 with a hat-trick from Romelu Lukaku. He did get on the pitch though after an hour, replacing Marouane Fellaini in midfield. Malanda was then an unused substitute at San Marino where they won just 1-0 thanks to Moussa Dembele to leave them 2nd in their group.

One of few players to start the season well for Stoke, Alen Halilovic was disappointed to be named as a substitute for Croatia against Turkey who were beaten 3-1. Fortunately, he did join the action when Croatia were already winning 2-1 on the 61st minute and Croatia scored a third just two minutes later. Halilovic was also unused from the bench in the second game which left Croatia ahead of Belgium in their group following a 3-0 win at Estonia.

It's not often that Lithuania manage a win (they average one victory a year) but they were made favourites against San Marino and delivered with a 4-1 win. They were given a scare though as Egon Volpinari scored after just two minutes but Deivydas Matulevicius equalised a minute later and added another later along with goals from Karolis Chvedukas and Tomas Ramonas. Tomas Dombrauskis played the full 90 minutes and will be hoping that his performance pushes him into Henderson's selection plans. Lithuania then lost 4-0 at Turkey with Dombrauskis playing the entire game without much effect after they'd been reduced to 10 men on the 38th minute. Turkey's goalscorers were Serdar Kesimal, Mevlut Erdinc, Arda Turan and Burak Yilmaz. Lithuania are left 4th in a group of 6 teams.

Matthew Kennedy was delighted to start at Hungary where two goals from Rory Donnelly earned Northern Ireland a point. Donnelly's goals had been cancelled out by Vladimir Koman and Krisztian Nemeth with Kennedy providing the assist for Donnelly's first goal, a header from Kennedy's swinging corner. Kennedy though, put in a poor performance in their home game against Germany who won 2-0 with goals from Mario Gomez and Marco Reus. The winger was subbed after 50 minutes and replaced by Andrew Little with Northern Ireland left second from bottom in the group after the defeat.

A convincing 3-0 win over FYROM for Holland included a Nathan Aké start at centre-back where he played the duration of the game with the goals coming from Kevin Strootman for a hat-trick. Holland are 2nd after playing just one game in their group.

Strikers Rinor Nushi and Gentrit Citaku have not had a taste of first team football for quite some time but that has not stopped Sweden manager Stig Fredriksson from selecting the duo for their Group 2 Qualifiers against Portugal and Malta. Citaku had earned a debut cap last season as a substitute whereas Nushi has not yet made his first appearance for his country.

Dino Islamovic and Andreas Cornelius had hoped to get on the pitch as Denmark beat Montenegro 2-1 but neither player made it onto the pitch.

All eyes were mainly on the England match in which they beat Azerbaijan 2-0. However, every watching Stoke fan were left disappointed as Jack Butland and Mason Bennett were both left on the bench without getting on the pitch.

In other news, manager Mark Henderson has confirmed that the club have completed the signing of 19 year old Scottish striker Brian Kerr for a fee of £725,000 from Reading. A curious signing to say the least given the 'B' capped player's position, Kerr scored 4 times in 5 matches for Reading this season in the Second Division that led to Stoke beating Derby to his signature. Prior to that, he scored 16 goals in 32 games in his debut season for Motherwell before 2 goals in 3 saw a £60K move to Reading where he played 14 times last year without finding the net.

The club also confirmed that they had awarded a four year contract to another academy graduate. 18 year old Matthew Regan is a second player to graduate from the youth squad and is another right-back to provide competition for Graham Carr and Robert Peake.

Mark
29-01-14, 06:04 PM
Will there be an 0102Bet thread opened for this League Cup tie ? I'm putting a major wedge of Newport.

:lol: I don't think the bookies would accept any bets on that eventuality!

Kingsley
29-01-14, 10:09 PM
Another ruddy striker ..... have you seen the number of goals your defence is leaking ?

San Marino loosing to Lithuania .... How the mighty have fallen

kuy
30-01-14, 12:10 AM
"A trademark low drive from Jack Jebb" - something of the Fat Frank about him? You should be far enough into the game for regens to be appearing...

Redknapp69
30-01-14, 03:42 AM
WTF is the continual changing of keepers?! Can't be helping! Why not stick with 1 and give him a run of 10 games or so

Lithuania footie is improving as well - no way underdogs v lowly San Marino

Mark
30-01-14, 11:14 AM
Another ruddy striker ..... have you seen the number of goals your defence is leaking ?

San Marino loosing to Lithuania .... How the mighty have fallen

I know, I know. I can't help myself :D


"A trademark low drive from Jack Jebb" - something of the Fat Frank about him? You should be far enough into the game for regens to be appearing...

Jack Jebb is a real player, kuy. Plays for Arsenal :ok:


WTF is the continual changing of keepers?! Can't be helping! Why not stick with 1 and give him a run of 10 games or so

Lithuania footie is improving as well - no way underdogs v lowly San Marino

I always select by form. Butland had two 5's in his recent games so got dropped. Marshall a 5 and a string of 6's. Horton's the first to get an 8 in the league.

If you're in form, you'll play, simple as that.

kuy
30-01-14, 02:33 PM
Jack Jebb is a real player, kuy. Plays for Arsenal :ok:


Haha, so he is! Whoops

Mark
30-01-14, 03:48 PM
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Youngest Player Record

Mark Henderson's decision to start 16 year old Robert Peake at Fulham for their Sunday afternoon game ahead of Graham Carr has set a new club record previously held by Rhys Riley at the age of 17 two years ago.

Carr's performance at Southampton has led to his fellow graduate being handed the start as the only change to the 1-1 draw with new signing Brian Kerr named on the bench at the expense of Andreas Cornelius. There was also a change on the bench as Luciano Macri's place on the bench was handed to Ryan Fraser who impressed for Scotland during the international break.

Several fans were left wondering whether it was far too soon to thrown Peake into his first professional game and although Stoke were resilient to the attack of Fulham in the first half, they may have been proved right by Simon Cox scoring moments before Mark Clattenburg blew the half-time whistle.

A shot from Cox himself had been parried aside by Charlie Horton which was knocked out for a corner by Peake. From the corner, Bryan Ruiz crossed into the box where Semi Ajayi was beaten to the ball by the head of Cox.

Stoke meanwhile, had only mustered two wayward efforts that didn't trouble Maarten Stekelenburg by Mason Bennett. What a contrast to the last game of the season where Bennett had scored four times at this very same location against the very same goalkeeper.

Perhaps Fulham boss Steve Bould was reminding his players of that painful display as he barked orders on the touchline as Stoke tried to gain some momentum. They certainly did just that as Stekelenburg had to be alert to a shot that hit the side netting from Alen Halilovic before seeing Ajayi skim the bar with a header from Peake's free-kick. Stekelenburg then performed a double save to deny Bennett and Ryan Gauld before Henderson made changes.

Carr was called upon to replace Junior Malanda in the heart of defence while the subdued Jordi Corrales was replaced by Ryan Fraser for only his third appearance in a Stoke shirt in two years.

However, with Bennett's low drive going wide putting Stoke's number of efforts on goal level with Fulham's 8 shots, the final whistle was heard to deny Stoke a win at the 4th time of asking and left them 16th in the league.

Final Score: Fulham 1:0 Stoke City
Man of the Match: Simon Cox
Cautioned: Wes Morgan, Isaac Vorsah
Attendance: 25,624

Charlie Horton 8, Robert Peake 6, Dan Cass 6, Junior Malanda 6 (Graham Carr 7), Semi Ajayi 5, Gael Bigirimana 6, Ryan Gauld 7, Jack Jebb 8, Alen Halilovic 6, Mason Bennett 7, Jordi Corrales 7 (Ryan Fraser 6).

Mark
30-01-14, 04:11 PM
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Carr Returns as Stoke Host Everton

Attempts to find a first win of the season continued with two changes to the Stoke City side for Henderson as Graham Carr returned to replace Semi Ajayi at the unusual role of centre-back with 16 year old history boy Robert Peake keeping his place at right-back. There was also a start for Jack Grealish who caught the eye in his two appearances for Ireland which sees him start ahead of Alen Halilovic playing behind the lone striker.

The omission of Halilovic means that the armband is given to Junior Malanda who is the third player to be named as captain this season following Halilovic and Jack Butland.

Roberto Martinez himself was also searching for a win after suffering four straight defeats to Man Utd, Arsenal, Swansea and Aston Villa which had left the Toffees bottom of the league. A win was high on the agenda for both managers looking to get their season going.

Stoke, who have conceded the first goal in all but one game so far this season suffered the same outcome once again as Everton were ahead after 9 minutes. Excellent work by Leighton Baines teed up Giovanni dos Santos who let loose a scorching dive that Charlie Horton was unable to save.

It led to the game being tense and nervy for the home side as they seeked an equaliser that never arrived as the game moved into the second half. Moments after Semi Ajayi had replaced Gael Bigirimana which saw Ajayi slot into defence and Malanda move into defensive midfield, they were 2-0 down.

dos Santos, a player who scored 20 in 42 appearances for Everton after joining them last year, was a constant menace to the Stoke side and doubled the lead after connecting sweetly to a cross from Luciano Narsingh.

Henderson responded with two more changes as Jordi Corrales and Mason Bennett were taken off and replaced with Alen Halilovic and Brian Kerr as the latter was handed his first start at home.

Seven minutes later, Kerr scored. A move started on the left by Dan Cass, he gave the ball to Malanda who dribbled free of James McCarthy before passing to Jack Jebb. Jebb ran into trouble and Victor Luiz dispossessed Jebb only to see Kerr pounce at the opportunity and sent the ball past Lukasz Fabianski.

But after doing so well to get themselves back in the game with 10 minutes left to play, Everton restored their two goal cushion two minutes later. A free-kick was given away by Graham Carr whose tough foul on David Bentley saw dos Santos flight in a free-kick to which Horton saved but the rebound fell for Ruiz to poke home his first goal for visitors.

It was a damning defeat for Stoke as Everton rose above them and for the first time, Stoke slipped into the bottom three with two points. Also on two points were Huddersfield at 19th and bottom of the league was Leicester with just one point from five.

Final Score: Stoke City 1:3 Everton
Man of the Match: Giovanni dos Santos
Cautioned: James McCarthy, Tomas Kalas, Semi Ajayi
Attendance: 34,267

Charlie Horton 5, Robert Peake 6, Dan Cass 6, Junior Malanda 6, Graham Carr 6, Gael Bigirimana 7 (Semi Ajayi 7), Ryan Gauld 7, Jack Jebb 7, Jack Grealish 7, Mason Bennett 7 (Brian Kerr 7), Jordi Corrales 6 (Alen Halilovic 7).

Kingsley
30-01-14, 04:14 PM
Bring back Pullis. He would never have played a 16 year old at right back. Atleast 20 years too young. We need experience, not kids from the Aldershot & District sunday league division 6.

Redknapp69
30-01-14, 04:28 PM
Pretty poor start to season! :(

Mark
30-01-14, 05:50 PM
Bring back Pullis. He would never have played a 16 year old at right back. Atleast 20 years too young. We need experience, not kids from the Aldershot & District sunday league division 6.

:lol: The sad part is that is very true. Pulis would also never have played a natural right-back there and instead would have asked a centre-half to play out of position :D


Pretty poor start to season! :(

We're actually doing better than we did last season. We managed just 1 point in our first five and it took us until our 9th game of the season to record our first win. Hopefully it won't take so long this time though!

Mark
31-01-14, 11:34 AM
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Grealish Dropped for Newport Visit

Stoke boss Mark Henderson confirmed that Jack Grealish had been dropped from the squad after reporting late to a training session just days after the 23 year old Irish midfielder had been given his first start for nearly a year.

Grealish's omission was one of three changes to the team as Robert Peake, Graham Carr and Ryan Gauld were also left out of the squad for the visit of Newport County for a League Cup 2nd Round fixture. It meant a chance to impress for Matthew Regan, Semi Ajayi, Ryan Fraser and Luciano Matri as they came into the starting eleven.

18 year old right-back Regan was making his debut as the third player to start at right-back already this season after Carr and Peake while Luciano Matri starts for the first time for Stoke after appearing as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Southampton.

Ryan Fraser too, made an appearance from the bench at Fulham and appears for the first time this season which is only his 13th start in over three years at the club.

The League Cup, amazingly, is a competition that Stoke City have failed to progress in for the past four having been beaten since that memorable League Cup final victory by Arsenal, Exeter, Derby and Bradford.

A Third Division side 12th in their league, Newport County represent another potential banana skin for the Potters and Henderson is keen to ditch the trend of being beaten in the first hurdle and embark on a rare cup run despite their league troubles this season.

Stoke started the stronger side as efforts from Mason Bennett, Dan Cass, Jordi Corrales and Ryan Fraser went off target before a goal was scored.

Impressing on his debut was Regan who had embarked on a run down the right flank and received a squared ball from Cass on the left before taking a touch and blasting it into the top corner. The Stoke born defender celebrated his goalscoring debut with arms raised and pointing towards 'The Boothen End' as if to say, "That ones for you!". A potential legend in the making, one has to wonder?

Newport were giving Charlie Horton something to think about with efforts of their own but Stoke all but secured the victory just three minutes later with another first goal for Matri. This time, Jack Jebb orchestrated the goal as a 50/50 ball between Gael Bigirimana and Harry Nilton was picked up by Jebb who spotted a superly timed run by the Italian who unleashed an unstoppable shot past Seb Brown to make it 2-0.

Newport again tried to rally but it was all over for them after Mason Bennett scored a third in the second half. Jebb was involved again as he brought down a ball to play it wide towards Jordi Corrales who beat his man and laid the ball off for Bennett to ram into the net.

Three goals to the good, Henderson took off Corales and sent on Jakub Lukowski who moved over to the right wing with Fraser switching to take Corrales' place on the left. It was the Polish midfielders 5th appearance for Stoke since his £1.1M signing from Q.P.R. last year. Only one of those games have been a start.

The third goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Newport and it went from bad to worst for them when a shot going wide from Bennett hit defender Anthony Church on the side of his leg to wrong-foot Brown and go into the net. With over half an hour to play, Newport were 4-0 down.

Eight minutes later, it was 5-0 as Stoke firmly turned the screw in the Newport coffin. A ball from Macri was played to the right where Lukowski did well to make room for himself and hit a fierce shot to which Brown beat away from goal. But it fell into the path of Bennett who made sure it went into the net.

There was still time for Newport to self-destruct further after Bernard Sbaiz came on to replace Jebb. An excellent Stoke move was started by Bigirimana who laid the ball off to Regan, who laid the ball off to Fraser, who laid the ball off to Lukowski, who laid the ball off to Macri. Before Macri could shoot though, Milton crudely tackled the Italian in the box and brought him down. A penalty and a red card followed for the defender. Fraser took the penalty and made no mistake in scoring his 4th goal for the club from the spot and complete a nightmare for Newport!

The fans forgot all about their troubles in the league for one night as Stoke recorded their first win of the season and a first clean sheet in the process in a match in which Henderson hopes finally gets their season going.

Final Score: Stoke City 6:0 Newport County
Man of the Match: Mason Bennett
Cautioned: Luciano Matri, Kevin Thornton
Dismissed: Harry Milton
Attendance: 25,738

Charlie Horton 7, Matthew Regan 8, Dan Cass 7, Junior Malanda 7, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 9, Ryan Fraser 8, Jack Jebb 8 (Bernard Sbaiz 7), Luciano Macri 8, Mason Bennett 9, Jordi Corrales 7 (Jakub Lukowski 7).

Mark
31-01-14, 11:42 AM
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Henderson Gets His Man

After his signature was denied by a failed medical in the Summer, manager Mark Henderson finally got his man as Jon Stockton completed a free transfer, signing a 6 year contract.

Henderson had identified the former Brighton right-back as the man to challenge Graham Carr for the right-back slot after his release by Oscar Garcia in the Summer. However, after agreeing terms, Stockton failed a medical due to a twisted ankle sustained during an incident in his home.

But two months down the line and once fully recovered from his ankle injury, Stockton completed a rigorous medical in order to sign on the dotted line officially.

"I'm delighted that Jon's finally joined us as a Stoke player. We've remained in touch with him over the past couple of months and since his ankle problem cleared up, we'd invited him to train with us so he could prove his fitness. So he already knows the lads and I'm hoping he'll settle right in."

Stockton, 21 years old, was a product of the Brighton academy and made his debut for the club just last year in the FA Cup before going on to play twice from the bench in the Premiership. He was spotted by a scout playing for the Brighton development squad and Henderson has kept tabs on him since, snapping him up despite just three games in his professional career.

Initially pinpointed to compete with Carr for a right-back slot before the failed medical, the club has since brought through teenagers Daniel Peake and Matthew Regan from their own academy with the latter being handed a debut to which he grabbed with both hands, helping the side to a clean sheet while also scoring in the process.

Whether Henderson chooses to keep Regan in the side or start with the fit again Stockton for the home clash against Manchester United remains to be seen.

Kingsley
31-01-14, 12:09 PM
It may be only Newport, but a win is a win and you can only beat the team in front of you.

A right back with glass ankles .... hold me back, I must celebrate

Mark
31-01-14, 12:53 PM
It may be only Newport, but a win is a win and you can only beat the team in front of you.

A right back with glass ankles .... hold me back, I must celebrate

More importantly, it's a win in the Cup!

He's got good potential to be the first choice right-back. It just so happened that he was injured when I first tried to get him :D

ebfatz
31-01-14, 10:36 PM
Just caught up. Great writing as usual.

One thing I will say is that any new manager asks that they are given time.
You've had that and more! You gotta start producing soon or that axe will have to come down!

Redknapp69
02-02-14, 11:39 AM
Cracking win in cup - but can you take it to change league form?!

Mark
03-02-14, 05:36 PM
Just caught up. Great writing as usual.

One thing I will say is that any new manager asks that they are given time.
You've had that and more! You gotta start producing soon or that axe will have to come down!

I know mate, I'm not expecting any let ups any more. I'm hardly a new manager as I'm in the 6th season now :D


Cracking win in cup - but can you take it to change league form?!

Fingers crossed...

Liam
03-02-14, 05:42 PM
Surely Stockton can't make his debut in that game?!

Keep it up pal

Mark
03-02-14, 05:53 PM
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Stockton Debuts at Old Trafford

The Stoke City squad were undoubtedly boosted by that fantastic 6-0 win over Newport County which is the first time that the club have progressed in the League Cup since the year they won it. As a first win of the season, it was important to take that into the next game at Old Trafford.

Perhaps sensibly, Henderson called for common sense to be inferred for a fixture in which Stoke have won just once in 10 meetings with that victory being a 1-0 home win two years ago.

After a fantastic start to his professional career, Matthew Regan was perhaps unsurprisingly dropped from the team to face Man Utd with new recruit Jon Stockon lining up at right-back. It represented one of three changes as Ryan Fraser and Luciano Matri were rested for the game which the manager keen to stress that particular fact after their excursions against Newport. The duo were replaced in midfield by Jakub Lukowski and Ryan Gauld with Alen Halilovic out of action with a toe injury.

As they do every year, Manchester United had strengthened their squad after a whopping £49M spending spree on a trio of players from Real Madrid. Jerome Boateng and Paul Pogba both cost £20M each as £9M was also spent on David Luiz as David Moyes attempts to win the title for a 6th time of asking having finished 5th, 2nd, 6th, 5th and 2nd in the past five years.

With David de Gea, Luke Shaw and Robert Lewandowski part of their starting eleven, they clearly had the quality there but were just not consistent enough. For that reason, some weren't surprised to see Stoke take the game to the home side in the first half as Man Utd failed to test Charlie Horton in the 45 minutes as shots from Lewandowski, Antonio Valencia and Javier Hernandez all went off target.

Stoke had similar joy at the other end as they had 6 attempts at goal but at least two efforts from Mason Bennet and one from Jack Jebb kept de Gea under pressure as the game was goalless by half-time.

The pressure was getting to Man Utd who saw another shot miss the target while David Luiz was booked in a clear sign of frustration. Could Stoke take the initiative?

Unfortunately, they didn't. Shinji Kagawa had been running the midfield and with another attempted through-ball, Hernandez managed to latch onto it to place their first shot on target past Horton and into the back of the net. One shot on target, one-nil up.

Stoke were not finished. Boateng had to be taken off due to injury and Ezekiel Fryers came on. Perhaps dishivelled in defence, Stoke made the most of it as Semi Ajayi played the ball across to the wing for Jordi Corrales to ping into the box. It eluded two or three defenders and timing his run from the other flank, Lukowski managed to get the ball down before shooting across goal and beating de Gea in the process.

It was the Polish midfielder's first goal for the club and what a time to do so in to secure a point for his side.

Final Score: Manchester United 1:1 Stoke City
Man of the Match: Shinji Kagawa
Cautioned: David Luiz
Attendance: 75,750

Charlie Horton 6, Jon Stockton 6, Dan Cass 6, Junior Malanda 6, Semi Ajayi 7, Gael Bigirimana 8, Jakub Lukowski 7, Jack Jebb 7, Ryan Gauld 6, Mason Bennett 8, Jordi Corrales 7.

Mark
03-02-14, 05:54 PM
Surely Stockton can't make his debut in that game?!

Keep it up pal

Well... :D