After the Whistle: Everton 1-0 Stoke
In what have admittedly been three tough opening fixtures, Stoke have once again taken to starting the season slowly, with no wins before the first international break. What will be more worrying to some is that two of those fixtures are games that we won last year. However, before the doom-mongers start to cry out relegation let’s take everything into our stride and go again after the international break. If we go more than the six games we went last year without a win then I’ll allow you to start worrying, deal?
With that being said, I’m supposed to be the pessimistic one around here, so let’s dissect where we went wrong shall we?
1.) Creating chances
This is probably Stoke’s biggest issue in my eyes and unfortunately, it’s something that has been prevalent over the three seasons under Hughes (In all honesty it wasn’t any better under Pulis either). I know that Stoke are being continuously linked with strikers from all over the world, most notably Saido Berahino. But I’m beginning to worry that bringing in a striker isn’t going to solve anything if we aren’t creating the chances for them in the first place.
A good example of this was our crossing yesterday, I could be wrong but I’m almost certain that most (If not all) of our crosses in the game came once we’d taken Crouch off the pitch, where is the sense in that? I’m not surprised he looked annoyed when he came off, we’d fed him no service all game.
I feel like absolutely nothing has changed since last season, seriously nothing. Hughes just hasn’t learned from his first two seasons in charge. Making two substitutions with just over ten minutes of the game left is pointless, they don’t have time to work their way into the game and make an impact. Furthermore, replacing Crouch with Walters was our death blow in my opinion. Joe Allen is not a natural Number 10 (The position Bojan usually plays), however, I can see why he was played there with Crouch on the pitch so that he can run forward and hook crosses back like he did against Stevenage. But once Crouch went off it should have been Bojan brought on to play up front and use his fresh legs to run in through the back four of Everton, while we played a solid line of three in the midfield.
But no, Hughes brought on Walters who’s biggest contribution to the game was missing a sitter, congrats Hughes.
Imbula had an admittedly poor game, yes he made one or two runs through Everton’s midfield that looked sublime, but that was about it. He failed to take a shot when he was through on goal, and he was caught out multiple times when he was trying too hard to perform tricks rather than simply passing the ball.
With that being said, the amount of hate that he gets from a lot of Stoke fans is absolute nonsense. He is by far one of (If not our most) gifted player on the pitch, even matching or outperforming Arnie on his best days. Stoke fans seem unable to recognise talent when it’s staring them directly in the face. Yet, funnily enough, they were unable to find a bad word to say about Joe Allen yesterday, who had just as bad a game as Imbula did. So…
4.) Let’s talk about Joe Allen
This man has been incredible since joining Stoke, there is absolutely no doubt about that. But yesterday in my opinion he had a bad game (Except for the first 20 minutes), and that’s okay, people have bad games and it’s okay to point it out. But that doesn’t mean that you have to turn on them as a human being, ala Imbula.
Give Joe time and he will be one our stand out players, but he’s going to make mistakes along the way, so is Imbula, so is Shawcross. So no more outright criticism of Imbula whilst you all ignore Allen’s faults, please. I won’t go into the reason Stoke fans do this, but I think it’s pretty obvious to the majority of us.
More of a focus on the FA rather than Stoke here, but the standard of refereeing in Stoke games this season has already proved to be below par. To have these many penalties given against us already is ridiculous, especially when you see the amount of penalties that aren’t bein given (For worse offensives) in other games.
Are the FA directly targeting us as some suggest? I highly doubt it. But it is costing us points now and that is something that Hughes needs to address. Whether he does that by approaching the FA (Which he won’t) or simply instilling absolute perfection in our players when they’re in the box, I don’t know.
All I know is that the FA can fuck right off.
So enjoy the rest of the football and be sure to keep checking back to The Bear Pit TV for more quality content throughout the week and I will see you all back here for the next edition of After the Whistle next weekend.
Written by Mitch Adams
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