After The Whistle
I’m struggling, I really am. It’s difficult to take a draw such as this, when it really does feel like a loss. As I always do in this article I’ll be looking at five issues from the match that has just taken place, however I want to start off by saying that for roughly 60 minutes (More on that later) today’s performance was much better than we have seen over the past 4 weeks. It would be unfair of me to only point out the issues and not recognise that fact.
So with that in mind, let’s get started shall we?
Issue 1: The omission of Bojan
Now hold your knives and pitchforks, when the team sheet went up I (Along with nearly everyone else) slated Hughes for the inclusion of Peter Crouch over Joselu or Diouf, and Charlie Adam over what appeared to be Bojan (Given how the team was pictured by the Stoke City twitter page). However I’m not going to be ignorant enough to say that Crouch and Adam didn’t have a good game, in fact they were probably our best players on the pitch (Only beating out Arnie due to the fact they were on for longer). So no, I don’t think Bojan should have been have been ahead of either of these players (Not with hindsight anyway). It is instead Imbula who I feel should have been dropped.
Prior to today’s game Bojan had scored both of our two most recent goals. As an individual he was finally beginning to once again find his form on the pitch, even going as far as to bag a goal from a header. So why has Imbula, the £18MILLION signing, who has contributed very very little since his debut, retained his place? I recognise that consistency is needed (Not that we have any), however to leave Bojan out when he’s in any kind of form whatsoever is foolish in my eyes.
And as for Imbula… I’m not finished with him yet.
Issue 2: Imbula
When the young man joined from Portuguese side FC Porto in the January transfer window after a mere two games he was hailed as the 2nd coming of the messiah. I want to know what happened to that player, what happened to the central midfield player following those two games? Since then he has offered very little.
His poor performances grew to the point that the majority of Stoke fans on social media had to concede that he was somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde player, horrendous at tracking back and defending, but good going forward. But as time has go on I have to question if even that is the case. I will admit that he has an undoubted ability to break into a run and take the ball a third of the way up the pitch. However these spurts are far too few and in between and very rarely come to anything (I counted 3 this game, none of which came to anything). In contrast I counted an equal amount of times where Imbula himself was in a shooting position, or was running onto a pass in the final third, and utterly failed to do anything other than give the ball away.
I think a large reason for this is the language barrier, Imbula speaks only a handful of words in English and with no other natural French speaking players around him he is often left to read the game himself in order to establish what to do next (I’m not entirely sure he knew that he was given a yellow card).
Hopefully after a full pre-season and some work in the gym he’ll be more physically capable to handle the premier league (He was muscled off the ball a number of times) and he’ll also be more in tune with his team mates.
Issue 3: Failure to see out a win
Leicester 2 – Stoke 2; Swansea 2 – Stoke 2; Sunderland 1 – 1 Stoke…
It has been a recurring theme this season that we have been unable to grind out a win. It’s very worrying and is a key factor in our inconsistency this season. For the first 60 minutes (Roughly) of this game we were more than capable of winning the game, whether it be by 1 goal or more. However once Arnie was taken off with what I presume is an injury (Add it to the list) our entire team seemed to lose all confidence.
For the final 30 minutes of the game we rarely went forward, and when we did it was fluffed (Thanks Imbula). Our team sat back, as we always seem to do once we concede, and nerves began to creep in. 5 minutes after our goal everyone in my section was saying that the game would end 1-1, and look what happened. Now as for the penalty, I haven’t seen it back yet so I wouldn’t feel right saying it should or shouldn’t have been given. But that shouldn’t really matter, by that point the game should have been out of reach for Sunderland, but our failure to kill off a game was our downfall yet again.
It’s not an easy fix, you can’t just buy a start striker and suddenly expect the team not to let in the nerves like they do now (Although I’m sure it would help). It’s highly phycological and it needs to be addressed before next season.
As for this article, I think for the first time since I started I cannot think of 5 specific issue that needed addressing. Our defending was a million miles away from what it had been over the past 5 weeks and going forward having Crouch up front was actually working.
But what do you think Stokies? Have I missed a specific issue that needs addressing? If so let us know in the comment section below.
Written by Mitch Adams
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