The End of the One Dimensional Player?
As Mark Hughes attempts to advance his side past their highest ninth place a question lingers over the side, do Stoke’s players now have to be multifaceted and not simply reliant on one trade mark style of play?
The answer to this question clearly seems to be a yes, as Stoke try to continue the evolution of playing style the players are required to perform more complex tasks. This is evident in Hughes’ transfer work: Allen, Bony, Indi, Ramadan, Imbula, Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Johnson all players whose style is made up of a minimum of 2 significant aspects. Even players such as Charlie Adam, who has shown a new found defensive and positional awareness alongside his traditionally vast passing range, are developing their game to include more elements.
This leaves us to look at 4 players who are seriously struggling to show this variety to their play; Pieters, Crouch, Whelan and Walters. None of these players can be said to have a great variety in their play and as such there is some pressure on their places within the squad.
Erik Pieters is probably the simplest to deal with out of the list, he is the only natural left back in the side and as such does not face much pressure. The Dutchman is not a wing back who possess great pace and a crossing ability to seriously worry a defence, he is more a ‘meat and two veg’ defender. His defensive work is normally second to none and bar an occasional lapse in concentration he is one of the most reliable players in the side. Unless a new left back is brought into the team Pieters’ place in the starting XI will never be in doubt.
Crouch is another where the debate surrounding his role is not exactly raging. He is an old fashioned target man, who is normally the tortoise rather than the hare, this will never change, and Crouch will play like this until the day he retires. He does not possess Bony’s hold up ability nor his clever feet, and as such most are in agreement that as long as he does not start he has a role to play.
Whelan is the most controversial starting XI player that has been at the club for some time. He is the Irish footballing equivalent of Marmite, it appears you either herald him as our most consistent player of the last 18 months or celebrate him limping off injured. Whelan is a traditional ball winning midfielder, he thrives when he can be breaking up the oppositions play, and is at his weakest when Stoke are in the ascendency. This weakness seems to contradict Hughes’ grand plan of making Stoke a quick passing dominant side, especially in the light of players such as Cameron and Adam outshining him in the role. With Whelan more than likely out, it will be interesting to see how the side far without the ever present who has only missed 1 Premier League game since April 2015.
This finally brings us to Jon Walters, the most one dimensional player in the side, Jon will work “ard” and that is just about it. He is not blessed with pace, nor guile, nor a ruthless finishing streak. As of late Jon Walters can mostly be found sat on the bench or stood offside. Some sighted his performance against West Ham as a rejuvenation, but this is simply not accurate, the Irishman did very little other than be fouled by Adrian in the lead up to the equaliser. With the arrival and promising performances of Ramadan Sobhi the place for Walters in the side seems to narrow every 90 minutes of football.
So there it is Stokies, do these one dimensional players still have a role to play? Or is it time for them to be moved on a new multi-talented players to come in? Let us know in the comments or on twitter.
By Tom Thrower
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