TBPTV 2015/16 Season Review (ft special guests)

This is it. We’ve gathered the best (and worst) Stoke City internet brains and asked them four simple questions about our season. Some were positive, some were negative, some probably couldn’t care less anymore. But we asked them to be honest and let rip.

So, the responses are by:

How do you feel about the 2015/16 season?

Mitch Adams – Conflicted. I think that if the media had stayed away from us like they have done every other year then I would have had better emotions towards the season as a whole. As it turned out though the media repeatedly involved us in articles about Europe and even the Top 4 at one point. So finishing 9th (Whilst still impressive) does feel a bit underwhelming. Of course a lot of that can be contributed to injuries, but I feel like we’ve said that every year over the past 3 seasons.

Tom Thrower – Well I’m assuming that everyone else has been miserable gits about this. I actually think we’ve had another fantastic season. Yeah it was disappointing that we couldn’t make Europe, but if you step back and look at the larger picture we are certainly progressing. The football has just been truly unbelievable this season, and as long as the matches are exciting I will always be happy.

Ben Rowley – Confused. How on Earth did we sign Shaqiri? How could our team perform so consistently inconsistent? How did our team get so many injuries? How come we couldn’t take advantage of more of the bigger teams performing so badly? How come we didn’t collapse considering the rise of some huge underdogs? How can we beat some of the finest teams but lose to some of the weakest? How come Marko Arnautovic flourished into such a wonderful footballer? How come we keep finishing 9th? How come none of our strikers got a proper run in the first team? How can anyone justify some of Hughes’ substitutions? How did Mame Diouf end up playing as a right back? How come Bojan didn’t play more? How did Macron produce some football kits that Stoke fans actually enjoyed? All mysteries that will never be answered (by anyone that isn’t a smart arse).

James Whittaker – Deflated. I think it’s difficult to feel anything else until our third successive 9th place finish has sunk in and we’ve had the opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. In that respect you’d have to say that our progression continues but the thought of what might have been continues to rankle with those around us taking advantage of the so-called bigger sides trying to outdo each other in the sloppy stakes.

David Cowlishaw – Very Ordinary, Tiresome, Entertaining Infrequently. Not our best season by some stretch. Going into those final 10 or so games of the season, I wasn’t getting carried away with talk of Europe but I had hoped we’d finish a lot more strongly than we did. This was frustrating because we’d shown glimpses of being a fantastic side – I think the win against the Man City was the best we’ve ever played in the Premier League, and we had the heartbreaking cup exit which seemed to really damage our season. 9th and a cup-semi final isn’t too bad, but there were too many laboured performances, particularly at home, for me to get too bullish about how we did last season. That said, my hope is that it’s a transition, and we’ll see it come together nicely next time around.

Jase Martin – It’s the same outcome as the previous seasons under Hughes. Only this time we saw the “good times” come before Christmas and the dips in form happen after the new year. We stood still while big sides fell down and mid sized clubs rose, and it’s the latter that gives you a feel of frustration for the campaign.

Tom Hammersley – Frustrated. Though content with another 9th place league finish, I can’t help but feel like we’ve had it worse of the lot for injuries to key players. The effect this had on the team was evident toward the back end of the season and left everyone with a mouthful of ‘what if’s’. It was nice to get a good run in the league cup which we left so unfairly, but it leaves me excited to see how far we can go next season with a fit squad of players that will grow in size over the summer.

Player of the season?

Mitch Adams – If he had had a full season then I feel that Jack Butland would have been the run away for this accolade. But given his injury I have to give it to the every present Marko Arnautovic. Whilst his attitude may rub some people the wrong way you cannot say that without him we would have finished in the top half of the league this season. Having now seemingly finally settled down into the Premier League the winger-come-striker was vital for our success. Having a hand in roughly half our goals this season is no easy feat and that needs to be recognised.

Tom Thrower – Imbula. Gloves.

Ben Rowley – I feel sorry for Marko Arnautovic, who equalled Stoke’s Premier League goal tally from the left wing. For Philipp Wollscheid, who managed to keep himself injury free and played so consistently. And for Ibrahim Afellay, who brought so much to Stoke’s midfield before his devastating injury. All of these players during any other season would have won, but Jack Butland has simply been the best player in the West Midlands this season and arguably the best glove wearing player in the whole of the league (despite late competition from Giannelli Imbula). People say that goalkeepers don’t win you games but although this may be true, this young English superstar is the reason that Stoke haven’t been completely embarrassed this season. We haven’t managed to keep a league clean sheet without him and he’s ensured that an unbelievably large number of points weren’t dropped. Considering that it was his first season as a Premier League goalkeeper, you wouldn’t have mistaken him for one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He didn’t just fill Begovic’s boots, he blew the soles off.

James Whittaker – Jack Butland – To be honest you could argue that Arnie deserves a shout but the way in which the side collapsed in Butland’s absence speaks volumes of the impact he had in his first full season. He’s also not refusing to sign a new contract because he thinks the grass is greener so gets my vote.

David Cowlishaw – Very close, but Jack Butland just pips Marko Arnautovic for me. Marko has been brilliant and he, on his own, was essentially our attack with over 40% of our goals and assists. However, I think Jack Butland stopped us from losing so many points this season with quite frankly ridiculous goalkeeping that he gets my vote ahead of Arnie. Affellay quite a way off with a bronze medal.

Jase Martin – Marko Arnautovic, no competition. The player he’s threatened to be for years finally delivered, and won us games on his own.

Tom Hammersley – Marko Arnautovic. His highest-scorer accolade and generally massive ego I fear means he will be pulling on a different kit come the start of next season. Tying him down to a new contract would be the best bit of transfer business Hughes could do this summer. All eyes are on his performances for Austria now though, as its likely that it will determine where he ends up next season. And Arnie, you can’t spit your way into a champions league side, behave mate.

Best moment of the season?

Mitch Adams – Perhaps one that won’t appear in many others choices, but I don’t care, I’m going with Ryan Shawcross running down the wing and making West Ham look like fools in our final game of the season. Whilst the moment on its own was worthy of claiming this accolade, the timing of it is what really clinches it for me. Everyone (Including the players probably) were down in the dumps at the time, defeat or at least a draw seemed inevitable and Stoke were going to finish the season with a whimper. Then along comes Shawcross, running down the wing, getting the crowd on their feet again and Stoke end the season beating the media darlings 2-1. Good way to sign off an inconsistent season in my opinion.

Tom Thrower – Everton away. Just the perfect day, honestly the most exciting match I’ve ever seen. Shaqiri’s chip putting an entire ground into silence, Arnie going mental after scoring the winner. But all of the pales into insignificance behind Joselu hugging the ref for giving the winning penalty, which immediately made me love that Spaniard even more.

Ben Rowley – Honourable mentions go to the mental that ensued after that last minute equaliser against West Ham on the final day as well as the day Xherdan Shaqiri signed for us. But my absolute favourite moment was the 4-3 win against Everton, literally the best game of football I’ve ever seen. Picture the day: Boxing Day 2015, you’ve just come off the back of another drab Christmas and you’re too full and hungover to do anything else but watch the Stoke game. In the space of 90 minutes you’ve seen your record signing score his first goal and a worldie, concede three goals to almost condemn Christmas misery. Then Joselu smashes another wonder-strike out of nowhere (underrated goal of the season by the way) and Arnautovic smashes in a controversial penalty, given against England’s ‘finest defender’, to win the game which resulted in what I can only describe as the biggest meltdown my household has ever had due to football.

Oh and whenever the drunken man who sits behind me in Block 28 chants by himself. My favourite was “We’re Stoke City, we love a prawn sandwich”.

James Whittaker – Hammering Man City at home – The scoreline didn’t do our performance justice nor reflect just how dominant we were. It was an almost carnival atmosphere such was the ease with which we dominated them and the sight of Shaqiri turning Otamendi inside out only to be kicked into the air for his troubles was a particular highlight. It was a near perfect showing with the team as a whole working together in perfect harmony… which makes it all the more frustrating that similar performances were few and far between for the rest of the season.

David Cowlishaw – Leicester City winning the league. Oh, you mean us…. Arnautovic’s winner against Chelsea was pretty special.

Jase Martin – Beating Chelsea in the league Cup, with 10 men playing their hearts out and Butland’s penalty heroics sealing a memorable night.

Tom Hammersley – The 4-3 win away at Everton. It was one of, if not the most, exciting matches from the whole of the 2015/16 campaign. The seven goal thriller included that awesome, and intentional may I add, chip from Shaqiri who definitely shouldn’t be sold over the summer.

For comedy value its either Imbula and his combination of very unusual tweets and an unexplainable glove fetish, or the end-of-season antics delivered by our favourite amigo Marc Muniesa. 

Worst moment of the season?

Mitch Adams – Technically came after the close of the season but this is my answer and I don’t care. The moment that it was announced Dionatan would be joining Orlando SC… Farewell sweet Prince

Tom Thrower – I decided to watch the away leg of the semi-final in a pub that is regularly visited by a fan group known as the Brighton Kop. So for the 45 minutes of the second half and the whole of extra time, I was a very happy lone Stoke fan in a sea of Liverpool fans. The penalties had me on edge, and when Muni stepped up I had complete faith in him to slot, surely our fan favourite couldn’t let us down. Ecstasy to agony in a matter of seconds, an experience I don’t want to go through ever again.

Ben Rowley – There were many nominations for this one. The 3-0 loss to Everton. The 4-0 to Spurs. The 4-0 to City. The 2-1 loss to Palace. The infamous Marc Muniesa penalty at Anfield. When Stoke went down to 9 men against West Brom. Every time Arnie didn’t commit to a new contract. When Butland got injured. When Afellay got injured. When Diouf announced the death of this mother. Every time a player missed a sitter. Every time Stoke fans booed their team off the pitch. When Pieters got the same hairstyle as Arnie and became ‘Team Topknot’. When Stoke announced Marcon (which turned out smiles in the end). The painful realisation that we weren’t going to play European football next season. Our beloved Brazilian-Slovak leaving us to go on holiday in Orlando. All of these are pretty bad things that happened this season, but nothing sent Stoke-on-Trent into such pandemonium, sparked as much debate and left so many fans unhappy compared to when the most outrageous decision of the season happened. Bojan, mate, what the hell were you thinking when you got that haircut?

James Whittaker – Losing to Liverpool in the Cup – Having managed to drag ourselves back into the tie, losing on penalties knocked the stuffing out of everyone. Looking back it was a crucial part of the season that kicked off our miserable run-in and a game that also confirmed what we’d all long since suspected – that Lucas is a bit of a nob.

David Cowlishaw – Muniesa missing that penalty against Liverpool, it broke my tiny heart.

Jase Martin – Losing 4-0 to Spurs in the most one sided, lacklustre Stoke match I’ve seen in a long time.

Tom Hammersley – For me its watching on in horror as Butland got injured whilst playing for England. Though the semi-final penalty loss at Liverpool was tough to take, I found myself walking away from Anfield chuffed with the efforts from each and everyone of the lads. Butland’s injury saw one of our players of the season not only ruled out for the rest of campaign but also for the Euro’s that start later this week. The ultimate effect it had on our push for Europe became apparent as we hit a poor run of form toward the end of the season. I can’t help but feel it might have been a record-breaking league table position had he not fractured his ankle in Berlin.

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