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Thread: The County Championship

  1. #526
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    Ha!!

  2. #527
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    Arsenal away at the Ashburton Grove Stadium - eh? Where is that?!

    Another good month - Great to see the second string do well in the cup and 6 from 9 in league is nothing to be sniffed at

    Have you got any targets in mind - that chas must be burning a hole!

  3. #528
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    I imagine the Emirates sponsorship would have run out by now in game so it was either that or Arsenal Stadium

  4. #529
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    After the death of my Alpabet Game save, I should be able to get back on this in the near future.

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  6. #530
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    October 2020

    A time where we will really know where we are come the end of the month.

    Matches and Roundup

    Four games lay ahead for the month, the first of those a tip to The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic. This was a game we would really look to be getting something from. I saw us as a side better than Charlton and points gained here would have, at the start of the season, seen us clear of the relegation zone. As it stands though, any point would keep us in the top half and continue our good start.
    I found out the day before the game that a deal to bring Serbian midfielder Andrija Zivkovic had fallen through as he had not been given a work permit but I had to put that out of my mind and concentrate on the eleven that I was going to start the game with.

    The big change would be in goal as Ondoa picked up a thigh strain in the warm up. Ospina was promoted to the starting line up. The rest of the side stayed the same but I was unable to call up a replacement keeper at such short notice so Wayne Rooney took the seventh spot.

    We started slowly buy quickly got into our rhythm. Marko Pesonen had a shot cleared off the line before Charlie Austin broke the offside trap to give us the lead on 16 minutes. I hoped we would be in complete control from there on in. Charlton were yet to win this season and I hoped we would keep it that way and possibly go and add some goals to aid goal difference. We couldn't. Jonjo Shelvey did get the ball in the net but it was ruled out for a push in the build up. I had hoped for more but a win is a win. I'd rather the three points than a hatful of goals.
    Charlton 0-1 Stoke



    Could we keep on racking up the wins. Five from our first seven was more than anyone expected. It was probably more than I expected but I wasn't complaining. And we could hopefully get another one from the next fixture which was Leeds away, another side sitting in the bottom three at the time of us playing them. They had finished second in the second tier last season to come up but were clearly feeling the difference.

    Once again we were hit by an injury in the build up to the game as Virgil van Dijk damaged his shoulder in training and would miss three weeks. He had not been in the team so would cause no headache for this one but it did limit my options at centre half. Once again we went in unchanged and I hoped for a repeat performance from the previous game.
    Leeds put up more of a fight than Charlton did though and although we battered them in the first half, the sides went in at half time at 0-0. The players were doing everything I had asked of them but they just couldn't put the ball in the net. I sent them out to do the same again and hopefully it would pay dividends.

    It took just 7 minutes of the second half for them to get a reward. A cross from Cresswell was headed out before being thumped back in by Jonjo Shelvey to open the scoring. The same man added a second from the spot 9 minutes later before he completed a hat trick on 67 minutes. Andy Hopkins had got his name on the scoresheet a minute before that to round off a very healthy win with the players doing exactly what I had asked during the game.
    Leeds 0-4 Stoke

    After the international break, another relatively easy game on paper followed which was a third away game in a row and a trip to Chesterfield. Championship winners last season, they came up on a high and although they have started better than Leeds who came up with them, the gulf in quality from the Championship to the Premier League had hit them hard.
    They had decent players in their squad but the likes of James Tavernier, Richard Chaplow, James Tunnicliffe and Joe Ralls were not Premier League class.

    What I did know though was that they would work for their team. They would put a shift in. They would put their bodies on the line to try and get something from the game.
    I said this in the changing room before the game. I said that we had to hit them early if we were going to get anything from the game. The longer it went at 0-0, the harder it would be for us to win it, unless there was a mistake on their part.

    After such a convincing win last time out there was no way I could change the side. Ondoa came back on to the bench n place of Adam Armstrong in a slight change to the squad.

    We did indeed come out of the gates quickly but as I predicted, Chesterfield were nothing if not dogged. They battled for everything. Every little scrap to try and keep themselves on level terms but after 28 minutes, I quality told. And once again it was central midfielder Jonjo Shelvey who got the goal. We were ahead and with Chesterfield only scoring 9 in their first eight league games, that should have been game won but we had to guard against complacency.

    Reaching half time the score was the same and despite our best efforts, it was the same at full time also. We did also during the second half lose Wayne Rooney to a knock shortly after coming on as a substitute.
    Chesterfield 0-1 Stoke



    An extra fixture was next on the horizon as we finally came back to The Brit for the League Cup Third Round. Peterborough were to be our opposition. Rooney would be out for 2 months as a result of a calf strain. This may well be a blessing in disguise as I was struggling to keep 5 forwards happy. The four remaining players will be used in rotation for the foreseeable future.
    With another game in three days in mind, I rung the changes to the side.
    Salomonsson, Yoshida and Godin came into the back line, Chalobah, Scowen and Onyedinma to midfield and Armstrong and Berahino in the forward positions.
    I had to keep the players fresh and use the squad I had at my disposal. I trusted the players and had every faith that the squad that I had chosen to deliver on the night and take us through to the next round. Despite the impressive start we have made in the league, the cups is still where I think we have the best chance of winning a trophy at this time.

    The tie was an intriguing one. We were in full control for the first 60 minutes and had a solid two goal lead thanks to goals from Onyedinma and Scowen but for the next 15 minutes we imploded and let them right back into the game, firstly to pull one back and then equalise.
    90 minutes came round and that meant extra time.
    On 112 minutes I thought we had won it when Ryan Freeman slammed home but once again we were pegged back and that meant just one thing. Penalty kicks.

    Peterborough went first and the first four penalties were all scored before Aaron Cresswell missed his effort. That would have put us ahead as Peterborough had missed their third kick also. 2-2 after 3.
    Again the next four were all scored before Peterborough went ahead again with their 6th kick. Sudden death as Saido Berahino stepped up but it was a weak effort easily saved and Peterborough had pulled off a shock. We were out!
    Stoke 3-3 Peterborough (Peterborough win 5-4 on penalties)


    The loss, albeit on penalties brought us very firmly back to earth. After the great start we had made to the league season, we were obviously too confident that we would breeze through in the cup and that is not an attitude I want my players to have.
    I always want my players to play to win and not get too over confident. We had in that game. We were convinced we were already in the next round before we'd even set foot on the pitch. That feeling grew when we took the lead and we stepped off the gas and let it all slip away. I could have been angry with the exit but in all honesty it was a good thing. It would serve as a reminder to the squad. Nothing should be taken for granted and we would have to graft for everything.

    The final game of the month saw us hosting Everton and for the third time in 4 league games we would be facing a side in the relegation zone. We knew Everton were better than that though as they had players such as Barkley, Subotic, Besic, Mirallas and Fellaini in their ranks.

    We had to get back on the horse quickly but this one would not be easy so I had to choose my team carefully.
    Ondoa returned in goal, as did Pesonen at right back. Chris Smalling and Virgil van Dijk were chosen at centre back and Cresswell kept his place at left back despite his penalty miss. Jonny Williams and Ruben Jenssen came into central midfield with Austin and Hopkins returned up front. I really needed Andy Hopkins to start firing. He had just 3 goals in 9 games this season and this was very unlike him as his career stats of 114 goals in 195 games prove. He was having an off couple of months and I hoped he would come good.

    It was a bitty game all in all. Defences were on top as attacks were broken up but after 32 minutes I got good and bad news. Andy Hopkins got his goal but in celebrating it Chris Smalling picked up an injury and had to go off, Jamaal Lascelles replacing him.
    On the hour, we doubled our lead and it was the man who was turning into a prolific scorer from midfield, Jonjo Shelvey, getting his 8th goal of the season. In just 12 games as well. That allowed me to take both himself and Cresswell, tired from the League Cup game, off for a rest.
    Everton lost Besic to a red card and our extra man advantage allowed substitute Ryan Freeman to grab a quick fire double to make it a very comfortable win.
    Shelvey was very quickly in my ear at full time to tell me jokingly that if I hadn't taken him off he would have had a hat trick!
    Stoke 4-0 Everton






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    All in all a great month but the League Cup exit obviously a disappointment. I really couldn't complain though looking at where we sat in the league. The exit may be another blessing in disguise.

    A very quiet month financially. Just 1.94m came into the club with 4m going out so we made a loss. Wages took up 3.97m of the outgoings.

    Just two home games in the month. 25755 saw the cup game and 32719 saw the league encounter that ended the month. Tougher games await next month so we will enjoy our 2nd place while it lasts.

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  8. #531
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    I was going to say that the defence looks solid but then that happened against Peterborough Big blow to your chances of moving on there, losing in the cup! The fans are not impressed!

    Typical that Hopkins isn't firing on all cylinders when he joins Stoke too
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  9. #532
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    Fecking hell - clean sheets everywhjere in the league and goals to boot - I'm shocked at how well you're doing

    Rooney out for 2 months

    A changed team in the cup but still looked strong on paper

    Berahinho not scoring for Stoke......................where have I heard that before?

  10. #533
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    November 2020

    No cup games to preoccupy us, we can concentrate solely on consolidating in the league.

    Matches and Roundup

    A five game month lay ahead and that would start with hosting Q.P.R. at home. We were in good spirits in the camp, despite the early exit in the League Cup. Confidence was up, players were happy and the fans were loving life. The visitors weren't doing badly though. They were safely in mid table and were looking comfortable despite being near the top of the favourites board for relegation at the start of the season. They had some decent names in their ranks such as Leroy Fer, Jon Flanagan, Jairo Riedewald and Quincy Promes. Depth was their issue though and I felt confident we could come away with the points.

    Before the game, I had to take to the pitch and accept the Manager of the Month award for October. There had long since been mention of a curse to the winner of the award in their next game. I hoped to sidestep that in this game.
    Amazingly, a win in the game would put us top of the Premier League. We would have played two games more than Man Utd who were currently above us but I could only dream of the boost that would give the players and maybe instill a bit of belief that our start to the season was not a fluke and they had been playing well to get us there.
    Lots of rival managers were sending reps to watch our players as well so they must be doing something right. Jamaal Lascelles was reportedly being watched by Arsenal and Man Utd, Emil Salomonsson being looked at by no less than nine sides, Ruben Jenssen tracked by Augsburg, Palermo and West Ham and also Jonny Williams who had a host of sides including Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Everton and Man City watching him.
    Only Jenssen and Williams would play from that list as one change was made. Chris Smalling was out for a month with a groin strain so Diego Godin came into the back four.

    The thing that the first half was littered with was yellow cards. Charlie Austin got one for us, Nathan Baker, Leroy Fer and Simon Cox for them. There was just one goal. Andy Hopkins finding his shooting boots again to open the scoring.
    Just the one added in the second half as well as Charlie Austin scored eleven minutes from time as we went, unbelievably, top of the league!
    Stoke 2-0 Q.P.R



    It just so happened that our next encounter would be......Manchester United away at The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. We would most likely be beaten and replaced at the top of the table. But just think, if we managed to pull off an unlikely win, we would go five points clear of them at the top.
    A win was very unlikely though. They were unbeaten in their first 9 games of the season and had made a great start to the season. They didn't though, have many stars throughout the team. De Gea was the standout in goal. Daley Blind was at the club along with Victor Wanyama, my old mate Tom Ince and Enner Valencia. They were the most well known players so it was evident that they had some team spirit. Louis Reed was another man I had managed before and I was happy that he had made it to the top after being with me at Sheffield Wednesday.

    I knew we would have to watch him closely. I knew that we would have to be on top of our game. The incentive to pull ahead of United and create some space for ourselves at the top. But could we do it?
    My focus was taken somewhat as a bid of 20.5m came in for Jamaal Lascelles from Liverpool on the morning of the game. I left my reply until after the game. Lascelles only made the bench to save him from injury and Salomonsson replaced the injured Pesonen at right back. That was the only change. Aaron Cresswell needed a rest but he told me in no uncertain terms that he was fit enough for this one.
    I trusted my captain and kept him in.
    So, could we overturn a team that was unbeaten this season, that had conceded just 6 goals, at their place, the biggest club stadium in the country?

    In short, no. A goal in each half from Enner Valencia won them the game, took them back top and ended our short stay as the Premier team in England.
    Man Utd 2-0 Stoke

    I decided after the game to counter Liverpool for 25m in the case of Lascelles. If they went for that, I would happily sell him and start shopping for a replacement. Predictably, they pulled out and Lascelles stayed at the club. For now. An 8 day break allowed Cresswell to fully recover from his jadedness and allow me to plan for hosting one of my former clubs in Sheffield Wednesday.
    They were safely set in 10th place and that was about their ambitions after 15th and 11th placed finishes after I left.

    Maya Yoshida replaced Diego Godin at centre back in the one change. This one should have been eminently winnable after the form we had been in.
    And that proved to be the case as Jonny Williams opened the scoring before Charlie Austin added a second. Captain Cresswell added a third and all before half time.
    Just the one in the second half as Jonjo Shelvey scored an almost customary goal. A very comfortable win.
    Stoke 4-0 Sheff Wed



    That win took us back top of the table although now teams were queuing up behind us. We had 30 points. Chelsea were now second on 29 but with two games in hand, Man U were now third on 28 but also had two games in hand. Liverpool were 4th, a little behind on 23 but with 3 games in hand.
    We had to keep on the gas if we were really going to be taken seriously.
    Next up was a visit to Carrow Road, Norwich, a side doing very well for themselves as well up in 6th.

    We received an unexpected windfall as we got a cut of a transfer fee for Marc Muniesa who moved from Middlesborugh to Sheff Wed. It had been over 5 years since he left the club so it was definitely unexpected.
    We went in unchanged after such a commanding win and hoped that we could put on the same kind of performance away from home as we do at our own place.

    I don't know what it is about playing away. Yes obviously the home team have an advantage in that they play there all the time but that shouldn't affect us. We always look so nervous when we play away. The complete opposite of the way we play at home.
    The same happened here. We weren't troubled at the back but we had nothing going into Norwich's half. No pressure, no cutting edge. I had to hope that we would improve when I sent them out for the second half. As it happened , we fell behind on the hour, literally seconds after I made a double substitution but it was those changes that actually spurred us into action and we managed to equalise 13 minutes from time through Jonny Williams. A point I would have to take.
    Norwich 1-1 Stoke

    The final game of the month saw us on the road again and making the trip to Wales and the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City. Prior to that though, a central midfielder left the club as Ruben Jenssen moved to China to sign for Guangzhou Evergrande for 2.8m. He had been on the transfer list for some time and it allowed me to get 41,500 a week wages off the books as well. He had been playing well in his run in the side recently but it had done what I wanted to. It had got him in the shop window.

    I decided against immediately looking for a replacement and would give some of the guys on the books a chance to get game time. That started with Fred Onyedinma coming in to start and Josh Scowen promoted to the bench. Sverrir Ingason was starting to get antsy about his time on the sidelines as well so he came in to replace Chalobah in the defensive midfielder slot. Ingason, and also goalkeeper Ondoa had also reportedly said that we would need more squad depth if we were going to continue our league form. They may be right but I wouldn't be looking at that until the turn of the year when the British transfer window opens again.

    The game was a lacklustre affair. We had the best of it but again we weren't able to make the killer pass we needed or beat the keeper. It was a frustrating game as I knew we had the beating of them but we just couldn't make the chances count.
    Swansea 0-0 Stoke






    Transfers

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    Ruben Jenssen - 2.8m



    Despite the two draws to end the month, the other sides namely Chelsea and Man U have had a little blip as well. They do still have points in hand though.

    An almost break even month financially. 4.98m came into the club with 5.10m going out so we made a tiny loss of 124,000. I knew that that had come because of the player sale so I knew figures would not always be that close.

    Of the five games in the month, just two were at home. The fans enjoyed two wins in them and they were seen by 32642 and 34254 which are very healthy. In the next month four of the five games are against sides in the top 9 so will be a real test for us.

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  12. #534
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    bit of an up and down month but ou can't argue wiuth top

    the rest with games in hands but I always like points on the board

    What's the transfer fund situation likfe? Not tempted to selel Lascells for 20m?! Or if you cannot use until Jan, you were thinking he's better off playing for you and trying to get the title or a cup?

    Is your home and away formations/tactics the same?

  13. #535
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    Transfer fund is huge. 40-50m. Can definitely spend in Jan if I need to.

    I figure it's not worth upsetting the apple cart at this stage as he can't go until then anyway. If they really want him, they'll come back in.

    Formation is the same home and away, 4-1-3-2 default.

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  15. #536
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    Oops, stuttering a bit away from home. Good to see Hopkins get a goal at the start of the month but he didn't bag again.
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    He is very much off form. Might be getting dropped soon although Berahino is not doing much better when he plays.
    Might have to be Adam Armstrong - another one to get in the shop window. He wants to move to a bigger club!

  17. #538
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    Just caught up! Great work at Stoke being top of the table!

    Do you have any potential targets that you want to sign in January?

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    December 2020

    We will reach the half way point of the season this month. If we are still in the hunt, we will have to consider ourselves contenders.

    Matches and Roundup

    Another five game month ahead of us but this time with the added twist that we play 2nd and 4th in the month as well as 8th and 9th. It was going to be a tough month but it wasn't going to get harder than the first game of the month, 2nd placed Chelsea.
    A Chelsea side with the likes of Courtois, Ake, Cahill, Bale, Hazard, Morata and Diego Costa. It was a hell of a squad they possessed and it was hard to prepare for them in training as they could put out any number of players and could probably select three very good sides at least from the players on their books.

    I couldn't even be sure what formation they would play so all I could do was focus on us. Get us ready and hope for the best.
    Charlie Austin was nursing a bruised shin and so dropped to the bench with Saido Berahino coming in. That was the only change to the side that had finished last month and one I had hoped would give me a good performance.

    And they did. They gave me blood, sweat and tears for the full game. But after keeping Chelsea at bay for 86 minutes with a mixture of resolute defending and putting bodies on the line, Chelsea got their opening goal as Fabian Delph hit a 25 yard drive into the Stoke net. But such is the belief in this set of players that we didn't let our heads drop. If anything we upped our intensity and so as the clock ticked round into injury time, we got a corner.
    I waved Ondoa forward and he was just arriving in the box as Cresswell swung the ball in. The ball went near to where the keeper had got to but it was Virgil van Dijk who flicked on at the near post and Fred Onyedinma got his head on the ball at the back post to nod us level. An explosive final 5 minutes in the game but ultimately, honours even.
    Stoke 1-1 Chelsea



    That result may be the best one we have managed to pull off all season. It doesn't matter if we were top, stayed top or not but the heart and desire that the players showed was above and beyond any of the wins that we had picked up previously. But we had to recover and follow it up with a positive result in the next game, Tottenham away.

    Now they also had a great squad and Stoke had only managed to take one win off them in the last 10 attempts. In fact in the last 5 away games at White Hart Lane, Stoke had only scored once. This was going to be a tough one and everyone in the squad knew it.
    The team stayed the same. They were ready for the battle and ready to take on Spurs to keep on the extraordinary run of form.

    I sent them out with the express desired outcome of not being beaten. That would ideally come with a clean sheet. People call it parking the bus but I was not sending them out to get 11 men behind the ball. I was sending out my team to do their job right, deny scoring opportunities but also to get forward if the opportunity arose. We just would not be looking for those too often.

    We very nearly executed the plan perfectly. For 83 minutes, we frustrated them, we held them off, we made them work hard and we gave them very little reward but, 6 minutes from time, Andros Townsend released Harry Kane who held off the challenge of Maya Yoshida before composing himself and slotting the ball through Ondoa's legs to open the scoring. We literally had no time to react. They had done what they needed, we had come very close but did not manage to complete our task and we had lost.
    Tottenham 1-0 Stoke

    I had to look on the bright side. Yes we had lost. But, it was just our 4th defeat in 17 league games this season. That was a hell of a run for little old Stoke. But we could not rest on those laurels. We had to keep on going. I had no aspirations on winning the division but if we could nab a Europa League place, we could improve the quality in the squad no end and really make a push on. I didn't see this adventure ending for some time though unless I could engineer a great FA Cup run come the New Year.

    The next league encounter though would be Premier League newcomers Rochdale. They had made a decent start to life in the top division and found themselves in 11th position going into the game. They had accumulated some decent players. Not world beaters but decent proven Premier League players. Isaac Hayden, Tom Huddlestone, Demarei Grey, Ryan Shawcross. Decent players who put a shift in and Keith Hill the manager obviously had them set as a side who defend first and try and hit on the break. Exactly the same as what we tried to do against Tottenham but they do it every single week.

    So our emphasis would be a complete 180 from the Spurs game. This time we would be the team looking to break down the stubborn defensive resistance of our opponents. I trusted that my players were much better going forward than they were sitting back so I had every confidence of them breaking Rochdale down.

    Injuries befell us in the six days between games. Andy Hopkins picked up a chest injury, Josh Scowen a twisted knee. Both would miss approximately 2 weeks of action.
    Wayne Rooney came in for Hopkins and Scowen was replaced on the bench by Nathaniel Chalobah. There were some tired legs out there as the hectic Christmas period kicked off but I decided against further changes at this stage.

    On the morning of the game, we agreed for one of our centre halves to leave the club. But only after making sure one came in to replace him. My former club Sheffield Wednesday had made a bid for Chris Smalling but I wasn't going to let him go without cover so a deal was agreed. Wednesday would pay me 3m but also give me Georgi Terziev, a man I knew well after singing him for Wednesday. They would also need to pay me a further 1.4m as and when Smalling played 20 league games for his new club.
    Smalling wasn't actively looking to leave the club but I managed to get his 34,000 a week wage off the books and Terziev was so keen to leave Sheff Wed due to not playing, that he accepted a wage cut down to 18,000 a week.

    A few players were making noises now about the lack of depth in the squad so I would have to make so kind of moves in the transfer market to increase the numbers in the squad but I would not be just buying willy nilly. I needed to identify the right players to do a job for me.

    As I walked out to the dugout for the dugout knowing that the Smalling deal was done and I could move on to new targets, I felt happy but needed to focus on the task in hand. I needn't have worried. We had the lead after just 4 minutes as Rooney swept home after a flowing move. It seemed just a matter of time before we got the second as chance after chance was made but after 33 minutes, Rochdale had their first shot of the match and it ended up in the back of the net. It was a sucker punch and we were on the ropes and if I'm honest, we were lucky to make it to half time level.

    I gave the a rollocking. Berahino was yanked and replaced by Charlie Austin. He hadn't played well but wanted to atone for himself. I didn't allow him that luxury.
    Did things improve? Well yes. A bit. But just after the hour mark we were hit by a sucker punch as Rochdale had their second shot of the match.....and scored again.
    I was shocked, livid and dismayed all at the same time. We went more attacking immediately and had the ball in the net 5 minutes later through Rooney but it was chalked off as it was adjudged that Jonjo Shelvey was offside in the build up.
    Centre back Maya Yoshida came off with 15 minutes to go and replaced by attacking midfielder Ryan Freeman but it did not help. We were beaten at home. And it shows the level that we had put ourselves at that a year ago I wouldn't have minded much. Now, it was definitely a game we should have been winning, and I was not happy.
    Stoke 1-2 Rochdale



    Two more games in the month and they would come in the space of 48 hours. First Man City away on Boxing Day and Liverpool away would follow.
    Manchester City, for all their millions of pounds and star players, world renowned manager in Joachim Low, were rock bottom of the division. Joe Hart, Jan Vertonghen, Seamus Coleman, Max Meyer, Pierre Lasogga, big names that were consistently under performing. They were in real trouble. Any other week I would have fancied us but after back to back defeats, I now wasn't so sure. I didn't know whether our bubble had burst. Whaether we could get back on the winning way. I had to do something make sure we did.

    What I did was bring Pesonen back at right back, Jamaal Lascelles replaced Maya Yoshida, Charlie Austin for Saido Berahino and Ryan Freeman started ahead of Fred Onyedinma in central midfield.
    A few changes but not wholesale changes as I was fully aware that there would probably be more changes needed in 2 days time.

    Manchester City started strongly. After a quarter of the game, they had a two goal lead. Lewis Cook and Lewis Holtby with their goals. Some of my players showed that we wanted to end the run of defeats. We had a couple of chances before Charie Austin pulled one back to leave us trailing by one at half time. Changes were made as Virgil van Dijk was replaced at centre back by Ross Killock and Sverrir Ingason, who had been very dependable up until this point, having a bad game and replaced by Nathaniel Chaobah.
    Chalobah lasted 24 minutes before picking up two yellow cards and departing to a red card in the 69th minute.

    With that I thought our chance of getting back on terms was gone but Marco Pesonen and Wayne Rooney obviously thought differently as Pesonon advanced down the right hand side and swung in a ball which Rooney stretched to make contact with. He just about got there and diverted the ball into the net for the equaliser. A great point. Fighting back from two down, with 10 men to draw. I'd take that any day of the week.
    Man City 2-2 Stoke

    The point obviously wasn't enough for the Man City board as Low was fired the day after the game. That though was not my concern. My concern was firmly on Liverpool and the final game of the calendar year.
    Liverpool were on a run where they had not conceded for three straight games. They were solid at the back and that had cemented them in 4th place in the table just two points behind us as we had now fallen down the table a little after our bad run.
    This game would be vital in firstly staying ahead of the Merseyside club but also keeping pace with Chelsea and Manchester United.

    Anfield was buzzing for the game. I wasn't sure whether it was just because they were always like that or they were just happy to get away from their families after a long Christmas but the atmosphere was electric.
    After a typically rousing rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone, the teams got ready to kick off.
    Pesonen was straight back on the sidelines replaced by Salomonsson, the Freeman/Onyedinma position was switched again and Adam Armstrong came in from the cold for a game in place of Wayne Rooney.
    I was adamant with the defence that I wanted a clean sheet today. We hadn't had one for the whole of December and it was starting to become a worry. We hadn't won in 6 and we were 16th in the form table. Only two sides were on a worse winless run than us.
    It needed to change.

    It was a game of very few chances. You could tell there were tired legs all over the field after a frantic Christmas fixture period. But my boys listened to my instructions and we grew into the game. We were solid at the back and came away with the clean sheet I desired. And after one moment of magic, we came away with three points as well. Liverpool's keeper, Bobby Fox, playing just the 8th game of his professional career, cam haring out to clear a long ball over the top before Armstrong could latch on to it. He had done everything right. Apart from his clearance landed at the feet of Jonny Williams. He took one touch to control and then lashed the ball back goalwards from the half way line. It flew over the head of the despairing keeper as he charged back to his goal and dipped just under the crossbar for a magnificent goal.
    A goal worthy of winning any game and this one, it did!
    Liverpool 0-1 Stoke






    Transfers

    IN -

    Georgi Terziev - Swap


    OUT -

    Chris Smalling - 3m part exchange



    Certainly not the best month since I have been in chage at Stoke but we ended it well which I am happy about. This gives us impetus going into the New Year.

    A month of profit would you believe. 4.77m came into the club with 4.18m going out so a profit of 589,000. Every little helps!!
    Once again, I knew that that had come because of the player sale so I knew figures would not always be that close.

    Again five games in the month with just two of them being played at the Brit. Attendances of 32727 and 31481 which were a little down on what we have been getting recently.

    The FA Cup, my most realistic chance of silverware this season starts next month so it's all hands to the pump in training.

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  20. #540
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    GFRay is online now Member of the Month
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    Solid draws against Chelsea and City, but tough losses against Spurs and certainly Rochdale!! Good to end the month with a win over Liverpool!

    Good deal on Smalling, getting a good replacement and cash!!
    Last edited by GFRay; 14-11-17 at 11:27 PM.

  21. #541
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    You can't afford to be losing at home to Rochdale if you have title aspirations! Great win at Anfield, though and I'm sure you'll be back on top form in no time.

    Best of luck in the FA Cup, as I agree that it's your only real chance this season. It's also nice to see that you're having to battle hard to land a trophy with Stoke, probably for the first time in this challenge. Great write-up as ever!

  22. #542
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    Real tough month there

    Cracking point v Chels

    "I waved the GK up for the corner"

    Fecking Harry Kane doing it everywhere

    Smaling sale is odd but when you see the players and umbers it makes sense

    Awful v Rochdale - how many more chances for Berahinho?

    ah - he's booted out and ustin scores in his place

    Good point all things told v City

    Lucky win v Pool obviously

    A "par" month i'd say but a lot of big teams played

    nicely positioned still in league

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    From 2 points clear at the top to being 11 points behind, ebfatz out!

    Bad run of games against key opposition. Focus has to be on the FA Cup indeed!
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    Quote Originally Posted by GFRay View Post
    Solid draws against Chelsea and City, but tough losses against Spurs and certainly Rochdale!! Good to end the month with a win over Liverpool!

    Good deal on Smalling, getting a good replacement and cash!!
    I've had Terziev before so know how well he works. He may not look as good as Smalling in terms of stats but I'm happy with the deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by CMAdventurer View Post
    You can't afford to be losing at home to Rochdale if you have title aspirations! Great win at Anfield, though and I'm sure you'll be back on top form in no time.

    Best of luck in the FA Cup, as I agree that it's your only real chance this season. It's also nice to see that you're having to battle hard to land a trophy with Stoke, probably for the first time in this challenge. Great write-up as ever!
    Honestly, never had or have currently title aspirations. At this stage I would be happy with 6th or there abouts and get into Europe. That'll be a good season. The FA Cup is the one to chase this season.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redknapp69 View Post
    Real tough month there

    Cracking point v Chels

    "I waved the GK up for the corner"

    Awful v Rochdale - how many more chances for Berahinho?

    A "par" month i'd say but a lot of big teams played

    nicely positioned still in league
    Keeper's gotta go in that situation!
    Rochdale was a shocker though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post


    From 2 points clear at the top to being 11 points behind, ebfatz out!

    Bad run of games against key opposition. Focus has to be on the FA Cup indeed!
    It's been a hell of a drop. Just happy we got points on the board early doors coz we'd probably be in deep schtick now if not.

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  26. #545
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    Just caught up, great stuff in the league so far this season but very disappointing to go out the League Cup so early, hopefully you'll fair better in the FA Cup.

    Still don't know why you aren't splashing the cash though!

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