Leading by Example
The season is nearly over and with that comes the accusation that mid-table sides, such as Stoke, are ‘already on the beach’. And as fans all we want is the players to show that they are fighting against this, and it is normally the leaders on the pitch whose duty it is to motivate the side and remind them that there are still points to play for.
It is expected that this leadership will come from the domestic older players in the side, who have plied their trade at the club for many years and understand what the fans demand. Yet the past few months have seen the exact opposite in Stoke’s side. It has been the young, relatively recent, imports who have been the source of motivation to go out and seek as many points as possible.
Marc Muniesa said we need to show bollocks, Butland honestly assessed the Swansea performance as “not good enough” and Allen admitted that a draw for that performance would have been kind on Stoke and harsh on his former employers.
On the pitch, it was Xherdan Shaqiri and Bruno Martins Indi trying to raise the atmosphere against Hull. They could clearly feel the tension from the stands, but they knew that it was there responsibility to turn the atmosphere around it. And yesterday Arnautovic confirmed what many believed to be true, he turned down Everton because of his love for this club, plain and simple he wanted to stay.
It is these players, who often come under fire for not showing enough passion who are leading the effort to try and get something out of this miserable season. They are showing passion, determination and drive to try and guide Stoke to a 4th consecutive top half finish.
This commitment is not being displayed by those who you would expect to be at the heart of such a movement. The players who are traditionally labelled as being the ever reliable ‘grafters’ are in fact showing a total lack of determination or passion.
Jon Walters has recently taken a stab at the fans, in the local press, saying we need to be content with seasons such as this one and criticism is unwarranted. Charlie Adam threw a tantrum after being yanked off after another drab performance against Hull.
Meanwhile there is footage from the West Brom game where Glenn Whelan appears to go on a verbal tirade, airing his displeasure at the introduction of Julien Ngoy. And Ryan Shawcross stood by, as only a few meters away, Lee Grant and Erik Pieters squared up to each other during the Hull game. Those who you would expect to display leadership, are arguably doing the exact opposite and shirking from the challenge presented to them.
It certainly leaves you wondering what effect this is having on the dressing room. The side seems to be increasingly divided and this must make it a hard environment for new players, such as Imbula or any of the youth side, to bed in.
Whilst Mark Hughes deserves the lion’s share of criticism for the woeful season Stoke are having, there are certainly some candidates in the dressing room who, when called upon, have failed to deliver. Most of these players will be fighting to retain their place in the squad if a new manager is brought in, and if they continue as they are they will all certainly be left looking for new clubs.
Written by Tom Thrower
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