Bojan’s late header rescues Stoke from defeat in a game that should have been over before the 2nd half begun. Stoke to a man were excellent for the majority of the game but once again fell to their individual errors which ultimately cost them 3 points. Rotherham’s home form continues to impress thus far this season with all their points this season won at the New York Stadium.
Stoke who made 7 changes from their loss to Forest midweek were dominant in the first half, enjoying long periods of possession and creating plenty of oppourtunities. It was a busy half for Marek Rodak and the Rotherham defence. Benik Afobe and Semi Ajayi had a hell of a battle all evening, with the Rotherham defender coming out on top more often than not, he was a deserved man of the match and is exactly what Stoke could do with in the heart of defence based on this performance.
After the Brentford match last week I started the post-match piece with ‘What is happening at Stoke?’ and I still don’t have the answer to that question. Preston was the worst game of the season so far for a variety of reasons, not all of them related to the performance on the day. You could sense the nerves amongst the fans before kick off and it only took a few minutes for the atmosphere in the away end to become toxic, boos ringing out after every stray pass or ball back to Butland.
The feel around the club just isn’t right at the moment and it’s clear from Gary Rowett’s post match interviews that the ever popular and reliable duo of Scholes and Cartwright have failed to pull their weight yet again, leaving him with a squad of players that he doesn’t know what to do with. At the time of writing this, we have 10 central midfielders in the first team squad with no fewer than 290 full international caps between them and Darren Fletcher is the only one of them even slightly ‘capable’ of playing as a sitting midfielder, an issue that is unlikely to be addressed any time soon.
What is happening at Stoke? Years and managers have been and gone but the same issues seem to persist and on this seasons showings so far, they show no signs of going away. Before any criticism starts though, Brentford are perhaps the most underrated team in the division and a draw although not ideal is far from a disaster.
The first two games have seen us face sides who use intricate patterns when attacking, finding space between the lines and are very adept at playing out from the back, three things we just haven’t managed to achieve yet. Being outplayed by these teams at the start of the season should be seen as a positive though as it highlights our shortcomings off the ball.
On a bitterly cold night in Manchester, our boys took on the might of Manchester United as we looked to put in a good performance at the start of a new era. Of course the news had broken of our new Managerial appointment earlier yesterday as Paul Lambert was announced as our new gaffer on a 2.5 year deal.
The news in the main was not particularly well received as many perceived him to be the clubs 4th choice. In fact it’s fair to say, the majority of us felt “ flat “ at this appointment. That said, and once the news had been processed, the Stoke fans got right behind their new man as “ Paul Lamberts barmy army “ belted out from the away section at the self proclaimed “ theatre of dreams “.
Man United away was always going to be a very tough assignment regardless of the circumstances. In fact I did not know one Stoke fan who honestly felt we could take anything from this fixture. Especially so considering our poor away form throughout the season to date. Despite this, we started brightly and carved out some good chances only for Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial to score excellent goals during a decent first half. To be 2-0 down at the break felt a bit unjust as we had acquitted ourselves very well. The desire, work rate and all round commitment which has been absent so much recently was there for all to see. We couldn’t really ask for anymore than this right now.
After the interval and despite trailing, the Stoke fans really started to find their voice as “ Paul Lamberts barmy army “ was belted out for a good ten minutes. It was a fantastic atmosphere and for the first time in
good while you really felt like the Stoke fans were together as one.
United stepped it up a bit in the second half and although we competed for most of it, we didn’t offer as much as an attacking threat as we had done during the first. Mame Diouf did miss a late good opportunity but other than that, I cannot recall us troubling David De Gea in the United goal. On 72 minutes, Romelu Lukaku made it 3-0 and that was it as a contest.
Despite the defeat, there were was plenty to leave us feeling positive about. Steven Ireland did well as he continues to return to full fitness – indeed this was his first Premier League start since April 2015. Xherdan Shaqiri looked a threat at times and our new full back from Rubin Kazan (Moritz Bauer) acquitted himself well. The biggest positivity for me however was our support. This was a proper vocal away following with us all coming together as one. If we have any chance of surviving we have to maintain this now and put any differences in opinion regarding the new Managerial appointment to one side.
One statistic that does concern me though is this. We have conceded 50 Premier League goals this season and 5 of the previous 6 sides that conceded 50 plus goals at this stage of the season were relegated. The only exception to this was Swansea last season.
Nevertheless, we can still do this. We have a run of critical games now which may ultimately decide our fate, starting with Huddersfield at home on Saturday.
Time to get up for the fight everyone and unite behind “ Paul Lambert’s barmy army “
By James Lockett
What on earth is going on ? Another gut wrenching defeat to swallow, another 3 goals conceded to rack up our goals against column and another week with Mark Hughes still at the helm. It will not be popular for me to maybe say this but, what on earth is Mr Coates playing at ?
The time was weeks ago to sack Mark Hughes, maybe even months, we absolutely stink of relegation right now. Peter Coates is the man who can make the change most of us now crave and for some reason he is failing to act – with this in mind, he should not escape criticism either. I know I am like a stuck record but this is so painful at the moment.
Well I am sat here reporting on another loss full of anguish, no explanations or excuses about this defeat will wash in my view. Too much has gone on before last night for me to have any degree of tolerance, now it is about results not performances. Mark Hughes will take us down, act now Mr Coates or start to lose credibility yourself. For those who made the trip up to Burnley on a bitterly cold December night – well fair play to you. It took me 3 hours to get there owing to the terrible traffic on the M60 and M65. I sometimes struggle to explain what makes me keep putting myself through it. I guess if its in your blood, its terminal I am afraid.
Last night was not an advert for Premier League football, it was a 90 minute scrap fest. Admittedly the conditions did not help with wind rain and snow all playing a part throughout the 90 minutes, however I did not see much quality from both sides. It was a battle, an evening when we needed players to show some bottle, roll their sleeves up and grind out a result at a tough away ground.
My duty is to write a succinct match report outlining the events.
However after todays debacle I am struggling to report on anything other than what we have become. A 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Spurs might not seem so bad in isolation, however that is just the point. Forgetting the fact the three previous Stoke v Spurs matches have all finished 4-0, the last 12 months have been dire. Today enough was enough for many.
The first large scale ” Hughes out ” chants rained down from the away section at Wembley Stadium as our goal average took another shocking hit. A video just released on Twitter too of Stoke fans chanting at our players ” Your not fit to wear the shirt ” is starting to go viral. The mood has become toxic, make no mistake, we stink of relegation right now and something has to give.
A very nervy afternoon at the Bet 365 but a huge 3 points nonetheless. This wasn’t particularly pretty but the lads got the job done. A feeling of relief at the final whistle was widespread such was the importance of this result.
Mark Hughes had opted for a 4-4-2 formation selecting Bruno Martins Indi in the centre of defence and dropping the unconvincing Wimmer to the bench. Zouma slotted in at right back and Diouf started as a centre forward alongside Peter Crouch. Oh and Jack Butland was recalled replacing Lee Grant following his speedy recovery from a broken finger. This was a positive formation and pretty much what most people had been calling for.
Make no mistake, it is hard work watching the Potters right now. Results are not going our way, supporter unrest, calls for the Managers head and now a heavy home defeat on a freezing cold night at the Bet 365. A 3-0 defeat to Liverpool has left me feeling very hard done by as the scoreline certainly does not reflect the 90 minutes that I saw.
Despite calls for a change of system following a defeat at Crystal Palace, our under fire Gaffer stuck with the wing backs and 3 defenders. However this time he recalled Bruno Martins-Indi into the centre of defence at the expense of Wimmer. Peter Crouch was to start up front.
I still haven’t got over it. In fact, I feel really bitter, angry and will use this forum to vent a little bit. How we managed to lose that game yesterday I still don’t know. In fact I cannot remember coming away from a game feeling as incensed as that for a long time.
Crystal Palace were there for the taking but if you defend like we keep defending then you are always going to be in trouble. The stats don’t lie – we have conceded 26 goals in just 13 games, more than any other team apart from West Ham who have also conceded 26. Oh and they have sacked their Manager you know.
The first half wasn’t a particularly impressive watch for the neutral but from a Stoke perspective, I felt we were in control. Palace didn’t offer much and if anyone was going to score it was us. That said, we didn’t really do enough to get the all important goal despite the territorial advantage.