Joe Allen isn’t a Number 10 and some other stuff to annoy ‘yer da’
Joe. Allen. Is. Not. A. Number. 10.
Right it’s time to admit it, the Joe Allen played as a number 10 experiment needs to come to an end, quickly. I love the Welsh Pirlo banging in goals as much as the next Stoke fan but he is truly wasted in that role. Don’t take this as a criticism of Allen, although he is not free from blame, it is more a focus on what skills he actually possess.
“Oh lay off it he scored at the weekend and we won” right I’m finished rolling my eyes, but thank you for that valuable input. The game last Saturday against Palace was the perfect example of Allen being wasted in the role. Allen scored a wonderful goal making a late, Lampard-esque, surging run into the box, something more akin to a box to box midfielders game than a number 10’s.
And then look at the chance he missed. Pulling off to the back post to nod the ball into the back of the net, something Joe couldn’t do. It was almost a carbon copy of Afellay’s goal against Swansea last season, it is the kind of chance that is more typical of a number 10 and the kind Allen has failed to convert several times in the past months.
— Tom Thrower (@sussexstokie) February 14, 2017
Hughes seems set in his ways, however, as the Welsh man has started in the role for 5 straight games since Stoke reverted to the 4231 system. Yet the boss also seems acutely aware of the problem, as despite Joe starting every single one of those 5 games as a ten, he has failed to finish one as the number 10. This is especially strange seeing as moving Allen back would seem an attacking change, but 3 out of 5 times he has moved back when Stoke have been leading.
It appears it could be a case of Hughes making his bed and being forced into sleeping in it, as without Bojan he hasn’t got his traditional go to replacement. Afellay has proven to be a fine player in the role improving the side every time he has been brought on over the past month, aside from the United fixture. Hughes may have a chance to shift Shaqiri across to the ten role, a scintillating prospect indeed, especially if it keeps Ramadan and Aranutovic as the wingers.
Over the weekend I’ve seen people suggesting Adam and Crouch play an important role in the side as they are the only direct footballers in the side. They’d argue if Hughes didn’t play them that Stoke’s play would just result to passing backwards and forwards. But this argument fails to take account of the new breed of direct players that have joined the club in the past 12 months or more.
Mainly I am talking about Imbula and Ramadan, never have I seen Stoke players so keen to run at their man. Yes, under Pulis our wingers always looked to make it past the opposition but only on their terms, chiefly by beating them on the outside with their speed rather than technique. Both the Belgian and Egyptian seem to always be intent on running the ball at the opposition in whatever circumstances arise.
Imbula had the best take on statistics in the half season that he played for Stoke after signing and again he tops the chart of Potters players this season. I have no idea how anyone can criticise Ramadan after his performances for Stoke so far. His most impressive quality is his confidence, at such a young age in a notoriously difficult league, he never seems to doubt himself.
The key to their best performances for Stoke has been their willingness to go direct. Not in the loopy long balls manner but the transition from defence to attack in a matter of seconds. Both are the players who get fans out of their seats and look as if they will always be able to create chances. And after the bore fest that has been Stoke matches recently, irrelevant of how good results have been, I long for Hughes to return to the dynamic fast direct play he first brought to North Staffordshire.
Boy this guy gets me excited, what a signing we look to have made and I’d like to end on a positive note. I don’t know if it’s his new flowing locks but Ramadan’s presence in the side is making me miss Bojan, a tiny little bit, less. The way he celebrated the winner, with arms spread wide sprinting to the corner, showed just how much passion he has for the game, and he has recently stated he is very happy at Stoke and has no intention to leave.
I’ve spent a lot of this post talking about the young Egyptian and this all comes from his excellent performance against Palace. Ramadan showed so much promise and willingness to play his natural game, indicated by his six-attempted take ons. He may have only completed two but he certainly managed to show the threat he may pose to defences in the future.
The defensive side of his game also showed no frailties as he tracked back and made two tackles, his willingness to follow his full back is a trait that has stood out for me, and is one that should endear him to all Stoke fans. And if you are one of those fans who is annoyed, frustrated or angered by Ramadan praying or his hordes of Egyptian followers, give your head a wobble will you?
Despite the Palace game not being one to get anyone excited I am oddly positive and think that things may now begin to take a turn for the better, key to this will be the use of players in their correct positions and ensuring that the creative players retain their spots in the side.
Written by Tom Thrower
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