Are Stoke City Losing Their Identity ?
As a Stokie, living in North Essex, surrounded by Spurs and Arsenal fans, I grew up hearing the same old line every single time someone said, ‘who do you support then?’ My answer of course is that ‘if you cut me open I would bleed red and white’.
The response of ‘ Ha, you like Rugby then’ is the line I was greeted with around 90% of the time.
Though at the time, it kind of grated my nerves with the thought of HUTHing it up top to try and get a cheeky goal against play, and then keeping 11 men behind the ball for the full 90 minutes (though I do love Huth), at least we had some identity, you knew when you were coming to the then ‘Brit’ you were going to get a game. You knew that you would struggle. The phrase ‘Can he do it on a cold and rainy night in Stoke’ was because of exactly that, it was tough and teams hated playing us for that simple reason.
Looking at the team now, has Mark Hughes made us lose our identity, or has he created a new one? It is obvious he was brought in to change the system that we played, and rightly so, but that didn’t mean ripping the heart and soul from the team. Which in my eyes, has pretty much been done.
I do not see any passion, any pride or indeed any rough and tumble. Shawcross doesn’t seem interested anymore and the only other person that is built for it is Arnie, but any time he goes for it he is stupid. We then chuck on the old guard in the 70th minute because nothing is working and it changes, we start to hurt teams as they cannot deal with the physical element of our game. We turn things around and seem to get some excitement back.
Slowly but surely the old guard are moving on, and yes, they should. Whelan cannot hack the pace anymore and Charlie Adam just looks like a bus driver with a sweet left peg. We do need to move on and we do need to move forward as a club. And I truly trust Coates to do this.
But where is the identity going to come from? Hughes made a brilliant start by getting us the ‘Stokalona’ title for a few months and that was fab, but as soon as teams worked out how to stop it then players were getting dropped more times than Katie Prices Undies.
My worry is, at this time of the year, that we are moving on the steel of the squad, but not replacing them with the same kind of mentality. We need Stokies that will fight. We need some Wilkos that will do anything for the team, blood sweat and tears. But we seem to be linked with ‘Stars’ or has-beens that are looking for a paycheck. Darren Fletcher is a perfect example of this. Can this man revamp the Stoke Squad and give us something to shout about. No. Is he a good squad player. Yes, but that’s it.
Without an identity, a way of playing, then who are we to fear? Where is the excitement going to come from, and ultimately, is Hughes the man to do it? For me, I hope so, I just hope Rafa gets sacked before we find out.
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