Our Players GET Social Media (Except One)
Once upon a time in 2011, our favourite mop-haired Turk, Tuncay, posted a compilation video of his best goals on Facebook Manager of the time, Tony Pulis, was quoted to saying that he would not ban the squad from using social media accounts in the wake of the controversy. The rumours were that Tuncay had posted the video in an attempt to engineer a move away from the Potteries. Since then both parties have left the club and social media has not been banned. Instead the presence of social media within the Stoke City squad has only increased.
Robert Huth was one of the early adopters of social media, and barring one controversial mishap (#CONC), his presence on Twitter was a delight to Stoke fans. It was an era in which the only pictures we would see from professional football players were of Theo Walcott and co. in various states of undress after winning at the Emirates. The Arsenal squad, certainly in England, were the leading light for connecting with their fans on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like. Back then us Stokies responded with snide comments and disdain. Now it just looks like we were a tad jealous.
Signings have not only rebranded the football on the pitch, but just as much off it too. The Spanish trio, Shaqiri and Arnautovic are all avid users of social networking. Bojan, Joselu and Muniesa offer us pictures of themselves in fancy dress, selfies with fans and encouraging words pre and post kickoff. Shaqiri is a big fan of a pre-match blue steel selfie and Arnautovic offers us an insight into a seemingly sulky Austrian. Many of the highlights still come from the German who opted to leave us for league leaders Leicester. Huth and Jon Walters show their dressing room ‘rivalry’ hasn’t ceased to exist since he made his move. New boy Imbula hasn’t quite got the hang of it just yet. You can see the examples below…
@JonWalters19 Great seeing you today mate, I've missed that high pitched scream you make when you take a knock
— robert huth (@robert_huth) January 23, 2016
— Giannelli Imbula (@GianneImbula) April 10, 2016
I think these examples offer more than just something to like on Facebook or retweet on Twitter. They let us connect with the players in ways that 10 years ago wouldn’t have seemed possible. After fan favourite Bojan damaged his cruciate knee ligaments, without social media, it may have seemed that he had escaped back to his home country without a consideration for his new club in Staffordshire. Instead we saw videos, heard interviews and read tweets about his road to recovery and the hunger he had to return to Stoke better and stronger than before. Fan favourites won’t just be decided on how much effort a player puts in on match day any more but perhaps from their presence on social media too.
That isn’t to say that Stoke should be considering how many followers a player has on Twitter before signing them up, far from it, but in the social media filled world we live in it is strange to think of a life without having seen Marc Muniesa in a bunny costume. If it is truly Stoke City’s ambition to be a team battling it out on the big stage in Europe, the ‘brand’ off the field is an important consideration. We are now in the lucky position of having many of the first team squad actively engaged with social media, and whereas in the Pulis era there was talk of banning social media, the club perhaps should consider actively encouraging it. Shaqiri may have got some question marks in the aftermath of his move to Stoke, but his presence online is a free way to help put our club on the global stage.
I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say the switch we have witnessed on social media is bloody brilliant and long may this trend within the potteries continue. Maybe we can dream of one day seeing Mark Hughes dressed up as a sheep pop up on Facebook, who knows…
Written by Ben Cartwright
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