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Pulis deserves plaudits for Stoke progress

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Chris Bevan | 22:40 UK time, Sunday, 13 March 2011

Britannia Stadium

Critics of Stoke City boss Tony Pulis - and there are a few out there - might raise a wry smile when they learn that he had half an eye on England's Six Nations clash with Scotland as he answered questions after his side's dramatic FA Cup quarter-final win over West Ham, and even chuckle when they discover that he also announced he "loves rugby".

After all, in the past his tactics have been unkindly compared to those employed in the oval-ball game.

Undoubtedly, Pulis's approach rubs many people up the wrong way, and not just purists like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who made that rugby jibe. Even some Potters fans have voiced their disapproval this season.

But, as he contemplates taking Stoke to Wembley for their first Cup semi-final since 1972, the Welshman clearly does not care one bit.

"We get criticised for scoring a lot of our goals from set-plays but, as a coach, I actually enjoy us doing that - and I have enjoyed it all my life," Pulis said.

"We work on those on the training ground and it is a great reward when they come off, not just for us but for the top clubs too. But I don't take any notice of what people outside this club say anyway. Those who have known me long enough will know I just let them get on with it."

Danny Higginbotham

Danny Higginbotham struck Stoke's winner with a free-kick that just got past Robert Green

Pulis will be pleased, then, that both of Stoke's goals in their pulsating clash with the Hammers came via that route - the first a Robert Huth header from Rory Delap's long-throw, and the second from Danny Higginbotham's thunderous free-kick - although the fact they have only found the net in open play in any competition once since the start of February, when Jon Walters headed home a Marc Wilson cross against League One side Brighton in the FA Cup fourth-round, is not exactly a reason to be cheerful.

But the perception that Stoke are one-dimensional seems a bit unfair on Sunday's evidence. Pulis revealed afterwards that he picked two wingers to make the most of the space West Ham leave in front of their full-backs with their attacking 4-3-3 formation, and Jermaine Pennant and Matty Etherington caused enough chaos to mean the assertion by Hammers boss Avram Grant that the home side did not threaten in open play was incorrect.

If we are speaking aesthetically, though, even Pulis's biggest fans will accept that he is never going to win too many plaudits inside, and especially outside, the Britannia Stadium. But there is far more to football than that - and Stoke's first visit to Wembley since they won the 2000 Auto Windscreens Shield shows how far he has taken a club who had just finished 13th in the Championship when he began his
second spell in charge in June 2006.

Stoke currently occupy one place higher in the Premier League, but Pulis believes it is the rate of his initial progress that is behind the current rumblings of discontent from supporters, not just over those tactics but also his team selections and transfer policy too - an example of both being how scarcely-used fans' favourite Tuncay was before being sold to German side Wolfsburg in January.

"The problem is with people getting blasé," he explained.

"We have won promotion and then finished 12th and 11th in the next two years, while reaching three cup quarter-finals. Expectations have risen and then there is the feeling that we should be beating this team and the other. But we have no god-given right to beat anybody unless we go out there and work hard enough.

"There are a lot of clubs who have been in the Premier League a lot longer than we have, so we have to guard people - players and fans - from that sort of complacency and make sure we are on the front foot all of the time."

Pulis is aware just how precarious the Premier League is, especially after sliding to within three points of the relegation zone after a run of six away defeats - including a 3-0 thumping at the hands of West Ham last week, a game he watched the dvd of four times in order to find a way of getting at the London side for their next meeting seven days later.

But, even with the prospect of that Wembley date with Bolton on the horizon, he is confident he can get his team to focus on picking up points to preserve their top-flight status, starting with a home game against Newcastle next weekend.

Tony Pulis last led a team at Wembley when he was with Gillingham 12 years ago

"The first thing I said to the players at the final whistle (of the West Ham win) was 'this is brilliant, and enjoy it, but don't forget we have got a tough game on Saturday," Pulis said.

"The best way of reminding them about our situation is to tell them to look at the league table, and we will certainly be doing that over the next few days."

The last time Pulis was at Wembley was as Gillingham manager in 1999, for a heartbreaking defeat by Manchester City in the League One play-off final, so it is fair to say he has unfinished business there.

He insists, however, that he will not be distracted by the prospect of personal glory either, something I can believe having spoken to him last year, mostly about the Cup as it happens.

The 53-year-old has never won a trophy in his 19-year managerial career but he has never been relegated either, and I am pretty sure maintaining the latter statistic rather than changing the former remains his priority, even though he now finds himself in the FA Cup's final four.

That is not to say Pulis is not relishing this cup run after spending the early part of his managerial career toiling in the lower divisions. But he claims he takes most pleasure from repaying Stoke chairman Peter Coates for the support he has has given him, and his delight for the fans who had heeded his pre-match call to put their frustrations to one side was obvious too.

He refused to single out any of his players for special praise, but described Higginbotham's winner, which was the defender's first in the FA Cup during a career that has spanned more than 350 senior games, as being "a long time coming, but worth waiting for".

If Pulis does finally manage to get his hands on some silverware this season, then he will probably describe that success in the same way.

You can follow me throughout the season on Twitter @chrisbevan_bbc

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Stoke in Europe next season? So I suppose once and for all we can see what Messi can do at the Britannia on a windy Wednesday night..

    (And yes before any pedantic saddo corrects me, I am aware of the unlikeliness of Barca dropping into the Europa League next season.)

    Still, I'm going for a Bolton - Man Utd final.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well Done Stoke. Fully deserved victory. Really great chance to get to the final as well. Lets hope its Stoke v United.

    Motihur Saeed Rahman

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm not one of Pulis' biggest fans but you just can't argue that he doesn't get the results.
    For a relatively small club like us in the Premiership he has done wonders, and although he doesn't employ the prettiest tactics or even line ups he has comfortably kept us up 2 seasons in a row, hopefully 3.
    He has mentioned a three year plan in the Premiership where he will start us off onto the next path of our journey, if he gets to complete this plan at the end of the season and maintain our status in the big league then expect impressive and effective changes next season.

    Oh, and I love the way our football rubs Arsenal up the wrong way!

  • Comment number 4.

    Does anyone remember how good Anders Limpar was?!

  • Comment number 5.

    Personally, I'm a very big fan of Pulis.

    I understand some people don't like the way he prepares his team, but I actually enjoy watching Stoke - especially at home. I get much more enjoyment watching a team like Stoke than I do for 90% of the Premier League. Whether they like to play the ball in the air or not, they make games entertaining because they always have a threat. The Stoke fans as well always bring a fantastic atmosphere to games and they deserve seeing the team get results.

    As a Manchester United fan, it would be great to play either Stoke or Bolton if the team makes it to the FA Cup final. Bolton because of the rivalry, Stoke because of the passion. I think Stoke would provide a bigger threat to United, Bolton did under Allardyce but under Coyle the passing game just can't match the big clubs. Coyle has had more success against smaller clubs and has done a terrific job but Allardyce knew how to play the big teams better. Stoke now are Bolton 3/4 years ago, they can definitely win the FA Cup regardless of who they play in the final. Hopefully not City!

  • Comment number 6.

    I have to say that I disagree.

    The way Stoke play the game sums up everything that is wrong about football in England and everything that is wrong about how we teach out kids to play the game.

    I understand the fact that Stoke don't have the money of the big clubs, and work with very limited resources, but so do many other clubs, yet still at least these other clubs try to play some semblance of football.

    Stoke City do the me of football no favours.

  • Comment number 7.

    meeting man city in the semi its a good fixture cz there will try to revenger and get the silver wear coz if they dont macini could be out of the job as the new owners foriegn,will be tied for ending the season without anything to show for there investments.

  • Comment number 8.

    @7......what?

    You do what you have to do to stay in th Premiership. If Wenger & Co don't like it....tough. If the media and opposition fans don't like it.....tough.

    You get 0 points for pretty Messi-style football, but 3 points for a Stoke victory.

  • Comment number 9.

    So, one of Bolton or Stoke guaranteed a place in the final? Should be an exciting prospect for fans of kick and rush longball football everywhere.
    Slightly miffed to have been knocked out by a very average Stoke team yesterday, referee's performance (including our goal) probably the worst I've seen all season, but we can now concentrate again on Prem survival. City for ther cup this year.

  • Comment number 10.

    It is a little sad that neanderthal football can help you achieve limited success. The game that Stoke play has little in common with Football. I would love to see them relegated but Pullis like Allardyce before him has shown that you can achieve Premier League safety with anti football.

  • Comment number 11.

    @8

    Erm, I think you will find that Barcelona pick up quite a few points for their 'messi style' football!

  • Comment number 12.

    Watched this game on TV. In my opinion none of the 3 goals were legal. Stoke's first featured a Stoke defender paying no attention to the ball from Delap's throw. He simply ran to block Upson's attempt to get to the ball. West Ham's goal was arm controlled. the winning goal was made possible from a harsh free kick, by Stoke defenders in the wall opening the wall up by grabbing West Ham defenders round the waist and hauling them out of the wall. This was all shown clearly by the goal play backs.
    I am niether a Stoke or Hammers supporter, but a supporter of good fair football, which this most definitely was not!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    @9 The main difference yesterday was the midfield as the one Grant put out was far better than Stoke's and when WH had possession in the middle they were able to create far more. But to say they were the superior team is laughable - time and again Upson resorted to hoofing it up to Piquionne or Cole for knockdowns. Ref was poor for both teams.

    @10 Nonsense - did you watch the game yesterday? It was a great game, exciting and end to end with a high tempo played throughout. Compared to Arsenal's sleep-inducing performance at Old Trafford (lots of possession, neat triangles but the attacking threat of a poorly kitten), Stoke were well worth their win.

  • Comment number 14.

    4 - he was rubbish

    7 - Keh?

    I for one don't give a monkey about how Stoke play football. I like the fact that there are different styles of football in the premiership - that is what make it exciting. It is the age old problem of a little bit of success and fans' expectations rise exponentially and unrealistically. It is like Hull, the first time they've ever played football in the top division, they get relegated sacking the manager who'd got them there in the first place. Nobody has a god given right to win any game or even stay in the premiership. As an Everton fan I always breathe a sigh of relief when we get to 42 points and as good a match to watch as our 5-3 win over Blackpool was, I'd take a few more ugly wins this season

  • Comment number 15.

    12 - do you mean illegal?

  • Comment number 16.

    OK Stoke won and on balance deserved to. West Ham didn't show up until the last 20 minutes. That being said, the ref was rubbish. I think the WH goal was good. Slow mo replay more than suggested it was off of his shoulder. Stoke penalty was never a penalty. WH should have had a pen for man pulled down. Stoke free kick was a travesty of a decision.

    But what Stoke play isn't football - it's ugly football. It's Vincent Price football - a horror movie. I can't imagine being a Stoke fan watching this week after week - torture.

  • Comment number 17.

    @16 Its ugly football when Pennant or Etherington get the ball and take on the opposition to work a cross? Really?? All Stokes tactics prove that there is more than one way to play the game and more than one way to be effective. Yes it can be dross at times (quite recently has been poor in the PL) but when both wingers are on the pitch and Fuller is playing it tends to be decent, attacking football.
    I wish we played a bit more like Blackpool, who are proving that survival is possible whilst playing an open style - but given time, now that we are established, better players will be brought in and the style will evolve.

  • Comment number 18.

    Are people really saying if you cannot play "beautiful football" you should not be allowed to compete?

  • Comment number 19.

    This must really get aresene wenger's goat as his perfect and angelic team pass there way to nowhere, and there little season continues to disintegrate, one of the teams he most despises will be playing within earshot of his london home in a competition where his team have failed once again aaaaaaah what a shame (don't all get the kleenex out now). This goes to prove that whatever way your team choose to play is ok if it suits there strengths many will disagree with how we play at stoke it aint pretty but its effective if you and your team can not handle this then that just shows we are getting to you. One wembley appearance in the bag with hopefully another to come bolton will not be easy as they will be inspired by the loss of their great player and club icon nat lofthouse earlier this year and a great many of their fans as well as their players will be going all out to put in aperformance that would make him proud. but don't underestimate us either this one is for our own legend sir stan he will be looking down on us all with a great big smile on his face his arm around lofthouse and shouting go on lads one more game just one more game.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think this blog completely contradicts itself, you say that Stoke's football is not 1 dimensional, while at the same time stating that they havent scored from open play since January. A quite staggering stat.

    Im not going to disrespect the way they get results but come on, lets call a spade a spade.

    Can I just also add a comment about Mike Jones yesterday. Whether it was handball or not for West ham's goal (my own personal opinion was it was his shoulder - but then I guess I would say that) it was so clear to me that he spent the ENTIRE game making up for that decision. And the worst thing was, everyone in the west ham end knew it, even before it started to happen.

    Penalties given to Stoke that should never had been, (lost all respect for Etherington for his complete dive), at least 1 penalty that we should have had in the 2nd half, moving the free kick closer following a debatable handball, countless 50/50 decisions going against us etc etc.

    He completely ruined and overshadowed what could have been a classic cup-tie. I suppose its too much to ask for some retrospective action for the referee to be held accoutable for it?

  • Comment number 21.

    Really pleased that Stoke & Bolton will get a day at Wembley and one of them can make the final. Quite frankly if United don't win it I hope one of those 2 do. Very refreshing especially given that Stoke are run profitably as a proper business should be.

  • Comment number 22.

    @13 Stoke were average, they were maginally better than they were at Upton Park the week before but not by much, and that says as much about West Ham's performance as it does for Stoke - I am not suggesting that the Hammers were "superior" at all. As has already been pointed out they didn't really turn up until the final third/quarter of the game and for all their possession and efforts just couldn't get past Sorensen.
    For me this game was similar to the England/Germany tie last summer, the referee made a significant error in first half (WH goal) and then spent the second half desperately awarding the wronged team anything that he could in the hope that they would regain the lead and his error would not be the defining moment of the game. Unfortunately for him he made more than one error yesterday!

  • Comment number 23.

    13. At 09:12am on 14 Mar 2011, blackjaw wrote:
    @9 The main difference yesterday was the midfield as the one Grant put out was far better than Stoke's and when WH had possession in the middle they were able to create far more. But to say they were the superior team is laughable - time and again Upson resorted to hoofing it up to Piquionne or Cole for knockdowns. Ref was poor for both teams.

    @10 Nonsense - did you watch the game yesterday? It was a great game, exciting and end to end with a high tempo played throughout. Compared to Arsenal's sleep-inducing performance at Old Trafford (lots of possession, neat triangles but the attacking threat of a poorly kitten), Stoke were well worth their win.
    ------------------------------
    Yes I watched both games! The reason the Stoke vs West Ham game was end to end was due to the endless hoofing! I'm sorry but to me that is not football! Also, Delap's long throws take so long I'm surprised they don't put in an advertising break every time he prepares one! That said, for some reason the Stoke fans seem to appreciate this 'football' I was very impressed with the support they gave their team, It was quite an atmosphere.

    Not really sure what Arsenal has to do with this..... But the Arsenal game was one that I felt I had seen before! Dominating possesion but not moving the ball fast enough to create openings against a strong defensive Man Utd team, then of course on the counter attack Arsenal's naivety gets shown up!

  • Comment number 24.

    First up, I have nothing against Stoke FC, good luck to them and especially to their fans, who have waited a long time for some success.

    But, #6 is absolutely right. The game in this country will not move on whilst teams are able to survive and even prosper at the top level by playing anti-football.

    Stoke look like they are going to stay in the top flight for a third-straight year. But so what? Where do they go from here? Will they continue to play this way, and if so does Pulis really believe this is how the game should be played? How do their players develop? Does Shawcross have more to his game, or is he just a clogger? Who knows? Will young players coming through at the club play football, or just be taught to fit into this style?

    We must also consider how the next generation of managers are going to get a chance at the top level, if Stoke are now the blueprint on how to survive in the Premier League. We need less like Pulis and more like Ian Holloway - his Blackpool team have been a delight this season. And yet they may well go down, whilst Stoke linger.

    BBC, it also doesn't help when your bloggers praise the likes of Alex Mcleish and Tony Pulis. You need to do your bit too.

  • Comment number 25.

    21. At 09:59am on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    Really pleased that Stoke & Bolton will get a day at Wembley and one of them can make the final. Quite frankly if United don't win it I hope one of those 2 do. Very refreshing especially given that Stoke are run profitably as a proper business should be.
    -----------------------------------
    Yuck. Is there anything more distasteful than Football clubs been called Business by fans????

  • Comment number 26.

    10. At 08:48am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    It is a little sad that neanderthal football can help you achieve limited success. The game that Stoke play has little in common with Football. I would love to see them relegated but Pullis like Allardyce before him has shown that you can achieve Premier League safety with anti football.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One can only assume you are an Arsenal fan.

    Congratulations to Stoke who I enjoy watching. Football can be played in many ways, the diverstiy of playing styles is something to be celebrated, it's what makes football such a brilliant sport and so engaging for such a wide audience.

    JamTay, try not to be so narrow minded: "the game Stoke play has little in common with Football". Broaden your horizons and realise that Football can, and should, be played however people want to play.

  • Comment number 27.

    Anti-football wins the day and we have people on the BBC condoning it.

    Two goals where clear fouls were committed as part of a teams 'tactics' and a penalty where the player went over from the breeze.

    As for Pulis liking rugby, that would explain the rugby tackle on Tomkins in the penalty area.


    Dearie me, next week on the BBC, why don't we produce skillful players with good technique?



  • Comment number 28.

    @13 I didn't say the game was not exciting, simply that the goals were illegal. Yes I watched it. The game should have gone to a replay.

    @15 My English is correct, read again.

  • Comment number 29.

    Anti-football? Are we really this stuck up? Has anyone actually seen football outside of the Champions League?

    If anything the game Stoke play has more in common with 'real' football than what the top level clubs play. Good luck to them.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    26. At 10:10am on 14 Mar 2011, Dedwood85 wrote:
    10. At 08:48am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    It is a little sad that neanderthal football can help you achieve limited success. The game that Stoke play has little in common with Football. I would love to see them relegated but Pullis like Allardyce before him has shown that you can achieve Premier League safety with anti football.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One can only assume you are an Arsenal fan.

    Congratulations to Stoke who I enjoy watching. Football can be played in many ways, the diverstiy of playing styles is something to be celebrated, it's what makes football such a brilliant sport and so engaging for such a wide audience.

    JamTay, try not to be so narrow minded: "the game Stoke play has little in common with Football". Broaden your horizons and realise that Football can, and should, be played however people want to play.
    ------------------------------

    Nope not an Arsenal fan although I admire the way that they play. I'm a Liverpool fan (please don't even start me on the disaster of a season we are having!)

    I don't think it is been narrow minded to ask teams to play football and try to entertain. That is what it is all about really! My problem with the likes of Stoke is that their limited hoofball holds back any sort of progress of Football in this country. When teams like Stoke achieve some success with their brand of anti football it encourages others to emulate it. There is no way an England team will ever achieve any success playing a Stoke brand of football.

    Until fans in this country realise that hoofing a ball 80 yards or cheering two lumps thundering into each other on the half way line is not the way forward, then sadly English players and the England team will always be behind the continentals.

  • Comment number 32.

    29. At 10:15am on 14 Mar 2011, Dedwood85 wrote:
    Anti-football? Are we really this stuck up? Has anyone actually seen football outside of the Champions League?

    If anything the game Stoke play has more in common with 'real' football than what the top level clubs play. Good luck to them.
    ----------------------------------------

    You are probably right, which is a very, very sad inditement of football in England.

  • Comment number 33.

    But it's not Stoke's fault that the England national team doesn't play well. It's not like England don't have the players to win (plenty of world class players) they just haven't got the mentality for it. That's not the club teams fault.

  • Comment number 34.

    This whiff of sour grapes saddens me.

    I'm a Liverpool fan so it's little surprise that I hope the winner of the Stoke v Bolton semi-final wins the cup. However, regardless of personal prejudice, it's just brilliant to see two clubs which don't often get a sniff of the big trophies having such excellent cup runs.

    To describe Bolton as a "long-ball team" suggests the people saying that have not seen them under Owen Coyle who has made them effective and attractive, something my own team, Man Utd. and Arsenal have all struggled to be (albeit at a higher level) at times this season.

    Admittedly Stoke are a more direct team but so what? It's the poorest city in England with lowest educational attainment levels and highest poverty and unemployment. When Pulis says he has no money it really is true, so their continued success is such an achievement.

  • Comment number 35.

    So, one of Bolton or Stoke guaranteed a place in the final? Should be an exciting prospect for fans of kick and rush longball football everywhere.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Obviously you haven't spent long watching Bolton this season. And West Ham are scarcely any better. a few sideways passes from Noble and Parker then either thump it towards Piquionne or Cole, or "Der Hammer" thwacks one from 40 yards. Not exactly Barcelona is it?

  • Comment number 36.

    Hilarious that people on here are trying to say that the second free kick (from which we scored) shouldn't have been allowed... The ball is kicked and Cole clearly jumps in the air with his arms in the air and blocks the ball - how is this not an infringement?? Even worse was the sight of Parker trying to defend it to the referee, given the type of player he is, you think he would have been telling Cole to man up and keep his arms down. As for Huth's goal, I've not seen one pundit or journalist state that it shouldn't have been allowed.

    @23 - I mentioned Arsenal as they seem to be the example de riguer for anyone decrying Stokes style of play. Yet they were utterly inept on Saturday playing against a mostly second-string Utd side.

    Time will tell if Pulis changes his style of play. Holloway, who's been mentioned in comments already, was formerly a proponent of long-ball but had a change of heart at Blackpool and has redefined how he wants his team to play. Would I like TP to do the same? - definitely, would most Stoke fans? - probably. But it would be churlish to moan about tactics on the back of a decent cup win.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well played Stoke, fully deserving of their win yesterday. I know a lot of people dislike the way they play, but it achieves relative success. For all the plaudits Blackpool get, they've managed to do okay for half a season and could still get relagated. It's unfair to expect teams who cannot afford players of the quality of the bigger teams to try and play football against them. They'd be hammered week in week out. Stoke may not play the prettiest football but it's effective and does the job for them. Allardyce may be criticised but if a club was down the bottom i would back him as the man to get them out of it cos he is effctive at what he does. As much as i enjoy watching the way Arsenal play, i appreciate not everyone can play like this and that Stoke do what they can to survive.

    I think the referee was poor yesterday. The WH goal shouldn't have stood, Stoke should not have had a penalty and WH should, but I think he got the freekick call correct. Cole jumped with both hands raised, and whilst he was only trying to stop the ball hitting his face, he knew what risk he was running. His two raised arms provided more of an obstacle than his head would have and who's to say the ball wouldn't have got past the wall if he had left his hands down? They can have no complaints.

  • Comment number 38.

    Stoke fans, would you swap playing styles with Blackpool for positions/points in the league table?

  • Comment number 39.

    31. At 10:23am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:

    I don't think it is been narrow minded to ask teams to play football and try to entertain. That is what it is all about really! My problem with the likes of Stoke is that their limited hoofball holds back any sort of progress of Football in this country. When teams like Stoke achieve some success with their brand of anti football it encourages others to emulate it. There is no way an England team will ever achieve any success playing a Stoke brand of football.
    _____________________________________________________________________

    While I fully understand the point you are making,I would suggest it is more to do with finances than football.The huge gulf in money coming in to clubs in the Premier League to The Championship is leading to teams playing risk free football that works.Now while Stoke might not be easy on the eye (although Etherington has been superb this season) it gets them the results they need to stay up,which is the sole objective of 12 teams each season in the premier league.

    If the money was more evenly spread then maybe teams would be encouraged to play a more open game?Blackpool have rightly been given credit for the way they play,but would their fans prefer a few more doggedly won points if they finish a point behind (say) Wolves in 18th this season?

    Until fans in this country realise that hoofing a ball 80 yards or cheering two lumps thundering into each other on the half way line is not the way forward, then sadly English players and the England team will always be behind the continentals.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'll try that again with things in the right order.....

    31. At 10:23am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:

    I don't think it is been narrow minded to ask teams to play football and try to entertain. That is what it is all about really! My problem with the likes of Stoke is that their limited hoofball holds back any sort of progress of Football in this country. When teams like Stoke achieve some success with their brand of anti football it encourages others to emulate it. There is no way an England team will ever achieve any success playing a Stoke brand of football.

    Until fans in this country realise that hoofing a ball 80 yards or cheering two lumps thundering into each other on the half way line is not the way forward, then sadly English players and the England team will always be behind the continentals.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    While I fully understand the point you are making,I would suggest it is more to do with finances than football.The huge gulf in money coming in to clubs in the Premier League to The Championship is leading to teams playing risk free football that works.Now while Stoke might not be easy on the eye (although Etherington has been superb this season) it gets them the results they need to stay up,which is the sole objective of 12 teams each season in the premier league.

    If the money was more evenly spread then maybe teams would be encouraged to play a more open game?Blackpool have rightly been given credit for the way they play,but would their fans prefer a few more doggedly won points if they finish a point behind (say) Wolves in 18th this season?
    ________________________________________________
    There,that makes a bit more sense.

  • Comment number 41.

    33. At 10:32am on 14 Mar 2011, Dedwood85 wrote:
    But it's not Stoke's fault that the England national team doesn't play well. It's not like England don't have the players to win (plenty of world class players) they just haven't got the mentality for it. That's not the club teams fault.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    England do not have 'plenty of World class players'. We have a large quantity of strong, powerful players but an absolute dearth of technical players. This is a product of the physical, hoofing Football played by a lot of English teams!

  • Comment number 42.

    Like the article states, Stoke played some good football yesterday. Pennant and Etherington are two great wingers and they have a couple of big men who will start scoring from the chances they provide. Give them time and if they keep scoring from deadballs too, who knows?
    People are so desperate to label anyone who isn't a big four 'long ball' if they dare use any strength or kick the ball above head height. Just accept english football for what it is, speedy and strong. Xavi can't sit there, head up, looking for a runner for thirty seconds if he's up against Stoke.

  • Comment number 43.

    31. At 10:23am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:

    I don't think it is been narrow minded to ask teams to play football and try to entertain. That is what it is all about really! My problem with the likes of Stoke is that their limited hoofball holds back any sort of progress of Football in this country. When teams like Stoke achieve some success with their brand of anti football it encourages others to emulate it. There is no way an England team will ever achieve any success playing a Stoke brand of football.

    Until fans in this country realise that hoofing a ball 80 yards or cheering two lumps thundering into each other on the half way line is not the way forward, then sadly English players and the England team will always be behind the continentals.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    While I fully understand the point you are making,I would suggest it is more to do with finances than football.The huge gulf in money coming in to clubs in the Premier League to The Championship is leading to teams playing risk free football that works.Now while Stoke might not be easy on the eye (although Etherington has been superb this season) it gets them the results they need to stay up,which is the sole objective of 12 teams each season in the premier league.

    If the money was more evenly spread then maybe teams would be encouraged to play a more open game?Blackpool have rightly been given credit for the way they play,but would their fans prefer a few more doggedly won points if they finish a point behind (say) Wolves in 18th this season?
    ________________________________________________
    There,that makes a bit more sense.
    ________________________________________________

    You make a very fair point regarding finances. Personally I would love to see the money distributed more evenly throughout the football pyramid. But sadly Big Business, Sky TV and the Premier League is all about Money and not the interests of wjhat is best for football.

  • Comment number 44.

    But who says you need techincal players to be successful? You need good players, which England indubitably have, they just don't play like a team. Again, not Stoke's fault!

    I do take your point to some degree, but can't quite agree that the problem lies with the couple of teams in the Premier League that hoof it.


  • Comment number 45.

    44. At 11:00am on 14 Mar 2011, Dedwood85 wrote:
    But who says you need techincal players to be successful? You need good players, which England indubitably have, they just don't play like a team. Again, not Stoke's fault!

    I do take your point to some degree, but can't quite agree that the problem lies with the couple of teams in the Premier League that hoof it.
    ---------------------------------------------
    I don't think the problem lies with just a few Premier League teams. That really is the tip of the Iceberg. The problem is really at grassroots level where technical players are ignored in favour of larger stronger (less gifted) players. A team playing in Stoke's fashion only encourages this!

  • Comment number 46.

    But it's not Stoke's fault that the England national team doesn't play well. It's not like England don't have the players to win (plenty of world class players) they just haven't got the mentality for it. That's not the club teams fault

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't think its entirely Stoke's fault or teams who play with a similar style. But it is part of the problem. The same people (neutral fans and parts of the media) lauding Stoke today would be the first people to moan if England played that way. Just like the way the media were praising Big Sam for slating Wenger's opinion of his tactics, as soon as Big Sam claimed he could do a good job at Real Madrid and with England, they switched to slating his tactics. If Pulis was English and put himself forward to be England manager, he'd find himself without many supporters for the job. In fact there would articles saying his tactics are ok for the premier league, but not international football.

    So why are Stoke and others partly to blame? Well, the problem is that English players at those clubs will know no other way to play football. And we will never install into the England job a manager who could utilise their abilities. We can't even get players from the Top 5/6 clubs in the country to play differing roles from what they do at club level for England. Imagine trying to get players at those to adapt at international level. Kevin Davies struggled and even got booked on his debut for the basic reason he wasn't used to playing a less combative style.

    Personally if England did install Big Sam (or Pulis turned his back on Wales) as England I wouldn't care less how we played as long as we won. It couldn't be any worse than the dross performances we showing now. And also we'd be able to select players who aren't the most technical players, but would be effective for that type of style. Although the media would never allow that to happen.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think the problem with Stoke is that they are in a magnificent position to progress, but unfortunately the man who got them to this position is the man holding them back.

    Playing this type of football means that you will never progress to being a top side, as the top sides all mix excellent football with a solid steel, determination and strength. Stoke have all of the latter, but make very little attempt to play football.

    Stoke have excellent support, a wonderful stadium and are geographically perfect for progression. They have decent owners and it seems to be a club run properly.

    Stoke also have some very capable players who are being limited by the system. Huth and Shawcross could be a formidable centre back partnership in a very good side, just as they are in a side that plays dull, direct football. Bergovic is an excellent GK. But then you mix in the likes of Delap, who was barely PL standard in his peak let alone now well into his 30's. The stationary but hulking figure of John Carew. Full back who are instructed to fire diagonal balls as far up field as possible.

  • Comment number 48.

    25. At 10:09am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    21. At 09:59am on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    Really pleased that Stoke & Bolton will get a day at Wembley and one of them can make the final. Quite frankly if United don't win it I hope one of those 2 do. Very refreshing especially given that Stoke are run profitably as a proper business should be.
    -----------------------------------
    Yuck. Is there anything more distasteful than Football clubs been called Business by fans????
    -----------------------------

    Yes there is. It is seeing clubs go to the wall due to poor financial management. Like it or not football clubs are also businesses and whilst I don't want to see every decision made being a hard-headed business one there needs to be a business plan so that the clubs don't have massive losses and go into administration the way Plymouth have this season. Result local businesses and taxman lose out which means jobs lost and increased taxation

  • Comment number 49.

    Frankly I care not one jot for people's opinions, particularly when they use phrases such as 'anti - football'. Folks that use that phrase have no idea what they are talking about in my opinion.

    I watch my young lad play every Saturday in his local under 9's league and the teams all have different styles and approaches to the game. Some pass more, some use the long ball more. Many mix it up. The most successful are those that play together as a TEAM and are not only strong in defence/direct in attack but also get the goals and ultimately the final result, the win.

    West Ham were clearly using the long ball at times yesterday and so were Stoke. At other times both teams were playing it on the ground. Stoke employ two wingers and decent centre forwards to pick up on the crosses, West Ham play through Parker to a great extent.

    I was at the game and it was a very exciting match, with thrills and spills right up until the final whistle. That's what I pay my season ticket for, to back the team through the good and bad times, be entertained and get excited and yes also at times be depressed and dejected!

    Very sad when folks have the view that football should only be played a la Barca and on the ground to feet. Sorry but that is a very narrow minded view point and probably that of an armchair pundit; never getting off their backside to pay and support their local team from the vantage point of the terraces or touchline.

  • Comment number 50.

    33. At 10:32am on 14 Mar 2011, Dedwood85 wrote:
    But it's not Stoke's fault that the England national team doesn't play well. It's not like England don't have the players to win (plenty of world class players) they just haven't got the mentality for it. That's not the club teams fault
    ----------------------------------

    It's not like any of the England squad play for Stoke either is it.

    They play for

    Man City (Hart, Barry, A. Johnson)
    Man Utd (Ferdinand, Rooney)
    Liverpool (Johnson, Gerrard)
    Chelsea (Lampard, Cole)
    Spurs (defoe, crouch, lennon)
    Arsenal (Wilshere, Walcott)
    Villa (Young, Bent)

    and that is a selection but the squad has 14 players who play for the top 6 so that is who is to blame for the England team being rubbish or is it the manager - put Jose in charge and we'll see

  • Comment number 51.

    As a Stoke fan I don't understand all this furor over our very short and succesfull stint in the premier league. Why are you looking at Stoke to be entertained if you don't like our style? God knows theres a thousand matches you can choose to watch. I like watching European football and always wish our clubs well. But if Man city are fighting out a nil nil against juventus i'd probably lose interest and turn over. As for Stoke bein the problem for Englands current plight....don't make me laugh. You need to look at the QUANTITY of english players at clubs like Arsenal. I'm not going to suggest that someone learning Arsenal style isn't going to make a better international player...but the propensity for foreign players amongst the top clubs is markedly greater. As for England not being skillfull enough to win anything....you need to look back out our most successfull world cup in recent times.....1990. We we mixed skillfull wingplay with measured Attacking, Direct football, 4-4-2. Something I would expect STOKE to employ over time. Indeed the process has already begun. We have matured from playing strict 4-4-2 in banks of four, using 4 centre backs to playing 4-2-4 with attacking wingers and more skillfull fullbacks like Marc Wilson. I'm personally very happy with stokes progress and understand these things take time. But to illicit such strong opinion amongst other fans after just 2 1/2 seasons in the top flight.....we must be doin something right.

  • Comment number 52.

    In my opinion, the throw in's that Stoke use so well are a perfectly legitimate tactic.

    It's similar to a free-kick or a corner. I think it's the fact that it's not usual or not considered orthodox that seems to raise people's hackles.

    Stoke are a well run club and in some respects, are a lesson to others.

    That said, I think it is time that Stoke as a team did develop beyond what they are perceived to be at the moment, for their own sake/benefit rather than in response to critics.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh....and anyone who watched the game would concur that both Pennant and Etherington had really good games and this points towards a more expansive Stoke in the near future.

  • Comment number 54.

    48. At 11:29am on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    25. At 10:09am on 14 Mar 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    21. At 09:59am on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    Really pleased that Stoke & Bolton will get a day at Wembley and one of them can make the final. Quite frankly if United don't win it I hope one of those 2 do. Very refreshing especially given that Stoke are run profitably as a proper business should be.
    -----------------------------------
    Yuck. Is there anything more distasteful than Football clubs been called Business by fans????
    -----------------------------

    Yes there is. It is seeing clubs go to the wall due to poor financial management. Like it or not football clubs are also businesses and whilst I don't want to see every decision made being a hard-headed business one there needs to be a business plan so that the clubs don't have massive losses and go into administration the way Plymouth have this season. Result local businesses and taxman lose out which means jobs lost and increased taxation
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    I don't doubt that you are right, I just find it a shame that football in this country is so money orientated.

  • Comment number 55.

    49. At 11:35am on 14 Mar 2011, passtheoatcakes wrote:
    Frankly I care not one jot for people's opinions, particularly when they use phrases such as 'anti - football'. Folks that use that phrase have no idea what they are talking about in my opinion.

    I watch my young lad play every Saturday in his local under 9's league and the teams all have different styles and approaches to the game. Some pass more, some use the long ball more. Many mix it up. The most successful are those that play together as a TEAM and are not only strong in defence/direct in attack but also get the goals and ultimately the final result, the win.

    West Ham were clearly using the long ball at times yesterday and so were Stoke. At other times both teams were playing it on the ground. Stoke employ two wingers and decent centre forwards to pick up on the crosses, West Ham play through Parker to a great extent.

    I was at the game and it was a very exciting match, with thrills and spills right up until the final whistle. That's what I pay my season ticket for, to back the team through the good and bad times, be entertained and get excited and yes also at times be depressed and dejected!

    Very sad when folks have the view that football should only be played a la Barca and on the ground to feet. Sorry but that is a very narrow minded view point and probably that of an armchair pundit; never getting off their backside to pay and support their local team from the vantage point of the terraces or touchline.
    ----------------------------
    Please don't get me started on the utter jke it is that under 9's are playing 11 a side football. Plus the 'win' really doesn't matter at that age andd level of football. Kids at that age should be playing 5/6 a side on smaller pitches and getting as many touches as possible teaching them technique and control.

  • Comment number 56.

    Fans of certain clubs will always downtalk Stoke and Pullis.
    The denominator remains though: if they had a Rory Delap in their clubs they would love it. To give an example, I remember a match with Chelsea at Britannia, where Chelsea scored the "Delap way", with an Ivanovich throw. It takes weak teams to moan about the way Stoke City play the game.

    In full honesty, though, the care little to nothing that Stoke are trying to improve their game while securing their presense in the premiership and it appears they do both quite successfully actually:

    a) they have solid defence
    b) they have two good wingers in Etherington and Pennant
    c) they try to improve the attack - if Jones was half consistent it would show big time
    d) they have a team with many English players, as opposing to an Arsenal side that many times parade a France bargain base.

    Bitterness will never allow fans of certain clubs to see the work done at Britannia, because they wish on their away games to face rolling over clubs.
    And that's it.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bolton, under Owen Coyle, have received a fair and deserved amount of praise this season for their rejuvenated style of football. It was not always this way. They spent many years establishing themselves in the prem with a brand of football that so-called 'purists' took issue with. The point is that too many football fans and pundits think only in the short term but if you actually listen to what Pulis says you'd realize that he sees the bigger picture. He has always said that Stoke need to stay in the prem for at least three seasons to consider themselves an established premier league team. Slowly he is bringing in players more conducive to playing a more attractive game while making sure to keep intact a core of players who know how to scrap which is what keeps lower half teams in the prem. Stoke City, as long as they remain in the prem, and therefore receive the confidence and money that comes with it, are a team trying to evolve within their means over a period of time. It is extremely important that they don't over-extend themselves too quickly or all their hard-work would come undone.
    My point really is this: Don't judge them too harshly yet, three, five years from now we could be praising them like we praise Coyle's Bolton, whether they'll still have Pulis in charge is another matter but either way, like Bolton do Big Sam, they'll owe him for any success.

    Finally, Stoke aren't exactly a poor club, they have spent a lot of money in the past couple of seasons.

  • Comment number 58.

    Tony Pullis seems to have found his niche at Stoke City. As a neutral I have no interest in watching Stoke when they are on TV watching their style of football is not something I look foward too. He may have taken Stoke to an FA Cup semi but as any Pompey or Bristol City fan about his "strengths"

  • Comment number 59.

    I appreciate Stoke for mixing it up. It's football not ballet. I fell in love with the game during the 80s when twinkle-toe players were few and far between (and even they were twice as tough as todays 'hard men').

    Stoke employ tactics that other clubs struggle to deal with. Fine. Sensible. Pragmatic. Effective. Good enough for them.

  • Comment number 60.

    Every team has the right to play whichever way works for them so although I'd hate to watch Stoke on a regular basis I congratulate them on reaching the semi final. They are powerful, committed and capable of skilful build up play as well as long throws, corners and free kicks. Two very tricky wingers serving up crosses to strikers can't be knocked.

    However, like many others I'd prefer to see Bolton in the final as a reward for Owen Coyle and how he has changed Bolton's style from nearly all long ball to working through the midfield and mixing the play up. should be a very atmospheric semi. As for the the two Manchester sides I really don't care who wins as long as City finish 5th again behind my Spurs!

  • Comment number 61.

    Stoke City are improving. Just, when cash doesn't flow like a river, this process takes time.

    When they arrived at the premiership, they bought Etherington, thus having a relatively quality winger on the left. On the first opportunity they brought Pennant back to England and now they have decent wingers on both sides of attack.

    An observation of the table shows that, defensively, Liverpool concended at home just 3 goals less than Stoke and on the away matches they conceded 1 more than Stoke. Bolton, at home conceded 4 goals more than Stoke and away 1 less. Stoke have a decent back four line. On top of that, they have a couple of good goalkeepers, one of which is the Denmark keeper and the other one is the one Chelsea seem to want as a cover to Cech for some time now.

    Pulis has been trying to sort out the attack for some time now.
    a) he gave Beaty the chance to resurrect his career and, up to when Beaty started thinking he's bigger than the club, he was on a good way back to premiership, regular football, scoring some good goals in the process.
    b) they paid the 'big money' according to their capabilities, to bring Jones at Britannia. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to bring fruition.
    c) they brought Tunchay at the club at some point who, besides in his twilight years, gave many memories of quality passes and goals to the Stoke faithfuls.

    It is common sense that, with a mini-Modric type of player who would bring flair in midfield, in addition to 90' running motors in the team and with a fast attacker of the calibre of Sturidge, presently loaned at Bolton, Stoke would be able to start playing attractive football, because the work ethic, the defense, the keepers, the wingers are there in place.

    Bolton have improved under Coyle. Yet, Bolton's debt rose substancially, too. When were Stoke mentioned as having debt?

    Arsenal fans especially should be more gracious on their comments about Stoke's future, as they know first hand what the inability of buying good players brings.

    For Stoke, premiership stability is a priority. Quality on the other hand seems to be a work in process. Based on results up to now, had some unfortunate referee decisions been no so bad against them, they would be 3-4 points higher. Then they would give a different picture. How do you deal with referees and assistant referees though who are incapable of noticing that the Piquionne blatant, intentional handball prior to sending the ball in the net was cheating and a yellow card rather than a goal given?

  • Comment number 62.

    Stoke are just about the worst thing that could have happened to the FA Cup. This is no reflection on Stoke's supporters - fantastic atmosphere within the stadium - but Pulis' style of playing football is not what the "beautiful game" is about and to think he is going to "grace" (or that disgrace?) Wembley is embarrassing when you think of the number of worldwide viewers this game will take in. Please Mr. Coyle - don't let this style of football get to the final!!! Imagine Stoke vs Man City - one to miss!

  • Comment number 63.

    Is it me or is Stoke simply the worst footballing side in the whole Divison. The long throws and pitbull tactics are quite frankly boring.
    Stoke "beat" west ham yesterday based on causing the West Ham players to fall asleep because the football was that dull.

    On the continent sides would not be allowed to "play" this way.
    Therefore what is the point in allowing stoke to progress, potentially qualify for Europe and then get kicked out?

    I really hope Stoke go down, along with Blackburn who play the most dire and uninspiring football that makes me as a fan not want to go to games involving these teams.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    Oh dear. Not another piece of lazy journalism from a football writer at the BBC? Have you been talking to your colleague Phil? It's all been covered here by others but really it's not what I expect from the BBC. It's like the article is not particulary well thought through. Stoke continue to use foul play to gain an advantage, it's an effective tactic. So why stop? Stoke get a large proportion of their goals from set plays and the tactics employed feed this. It's their strength. I am still at a loss about how playing in this manner week on week gives Stoke that extra dimension or, indeed, why it is so important. Look who is in the cup semi-final.

    Oh. By the way, the ref decided the game which is a shame for all involved.

  • Comment number 66.

    62. IanB2 so you know what 'the beautiful game' is all about do you? Looking forward to Delapidator missiles at Wembley for the first time, BRING IT ON!!!!

    And as for you jamtay at 55, you said:

    'Please don't get me started on the utter joke it is that under 9's are playing 11 a side football. Plus the 'win' really doesn't matter at that age andd level of football. Kids at that age should be playing 5/6 a side on smaller pitches and getting as many touches as possible teaching them technique and control.'

    Shows how much you know me old fruit, my lad's league is 7 a side, smaller pitches and our coach majors on passing and positional play. He also advocates the lads enjoying themselves and we the parents actively support both teams from the touchline.

    Do you have kids? Do you watch live football from the touchline, support your local team? Or are you still sitting in your armchair watching football on Sky?


  • Comment number 67.

    #54 - ----------------------------------------------------------
    I don't doubt that you are right, I just find it a shame that football in this country is so money orientated.

    --------------------------

    It's the same everywhere. Football is such a big marketplace since satellite TV came into being it has had a wider and wider audience with more games across more channels the commercialism has gone mad

  • Comment number 68.

    @ 63 Andrewthehammer,

    Yes, I'm sure you prefer cheating the Piquionne way than Delap throws. :)
    If an opponent causes your team to sleep, as you say, then you have some problem! You don't fall asleep when 6footers are expected to try to head the ball past your keeper in the forthcoming moments.

    On the continent sides would not be allowed to "play" this way?
    On what basis is your speculation? because arguement it is not :)

    On a last note, West Ham are more likely to go down than Stoke, thank you very much.

  • Comment number 69.

    Don't know what Pulis said to the match referee at half time, but, as evidenced by the referee's abysmal performance in the second half, it certainly worked.

    Whilst not a supporter of Bolton, I can at least appreciate the quality of football that they are now trying to play, and hope that they succeed in the semi-final. One thing for sure, they won't be bullied by Stoke.

  • Comment number 70.

    @66 - If I don't know what the beautiful game is - I know what it isn't - and that is Pukis football. Imagine George Eastham/Alan Hudson trying to play in this team? Oh for the days when a towel was for drying down after a shower!

  • Comment number 71.

    63. At 1:03pm on 14 Mar 2011, Andrewthehammer wrote:
    Is it me or is Stoke simply the worst footballing side in the whole Divison. The long throws and pitbull tactics are quite frankly boring.
    Stoke "beat" west ham yesterday based on causing the West Ham players to fall asleep because the football was that dull.

    On the continent sides would not be allowed to "play" this way.
    Therefore what is the point in allowing stoke to progress, potentially qualify for Europe and then get kicked out?

    I really hope Stoke go down, along with Blackburn who play the most dire and uninspiring football that makes me as a fan not want to go to games involving these teams.
    --------------------------------------

    I hope they stay up quite frankly. Clubs have no divine right to be in the Premier League and WHU hav elived off "the academy" (which is just hammer speak for send a bloke to watch Senrab and nick all the players) and the West Ham brand of football. Sure West Ham play nice footie sometimes but winning is what counts as a lot of Arsenal fans are realising. pretty tippy tappy stuff is no substitute for 3 points or a cup run

  • Comment number 72.

    @ Football_UK

    Stoke down, lets do the Pepsi challenge with the league and fans, who would prefer small, insignificant clubs with no support in the lower leagues.

    With reference to Europe, Premier league allows physical football (if you can call Stokes style football), in Europe there will be lots of cards and sendings off.

    BTW - seem to think someone must have forgotten to go to spec savers regarding the penalty. The ref gave Piquionnes goal to wake up the stadium who were all snoozing the time.

    Later

  • Comment number 73.

    newsflash Bolton versus Stoke to be played at Miami Dolphins stadium.........

  • Comment number 74.

    "Stoke vs Man City - one to miss"

    Yes Stoke with their style and ofcourse Man City with the defensive tactics they often use wouldn't make for the most exciting of finals neutural wise but then the worse one in recent years was Man U V Chelsea in 2007 which just proves the big teams don't always produce great matches depsite their quality of players and play.

  • Comment number 75.

    66. At 1:11pm on 14 Mar 2011, passtheoatcakes wrote:
    62. IanB2 so you know what 'the beautiful game' is all about do you? Looking forward to Delapidator missiles at Wembley for the first time, BRING IT ON!!!!

    And as for you jamtay at 55, you said:

    'Please don't get me started on the utter joke it is that under 9's are playing 11 a side football. Plus the 'win' really doesn't matter at that age andd level of football. Kids at that age should be playing 5/6 a side on smaller pitches and getting as many touches as possible teaching them technique and control.'

    Shows how much you know me old fruit, my lad's league is 7 a side, smaller pitches and our coach majors on passing and positional play. He also advocates the lads enjoying themselves and we the parents actively support both teams from the touchline.

    Do you have kids? Do you watch live football from the touchline, support your local team? Or are you still sitting in your armchair watching football on Sky?
    - ----------------------------------------------------------
    Brilliant. I'm glad to hear that your lad's league and team is taught that way. It gives me some hope for the future! Perhaps the English game is finally dragging it's head out of the sand! As for Sky TV, I refuse to subscribe to that as money is the root of all evil where football is concerned.

    Cheers me old vegetable!?

  • Comment number 76.

    @63 Oh dear - another deluded clown who probably started watching football in 1992....

    Got all your ideas on football from Lovejoy's 'book' haven't you mate?

    Check the league table if you're concerned about who might be going down (here's a clue, the Academy of Football are much more likely to than little old Stoke).

  • Comment number 77.

    67. At 1:12pm on 14 Mar 2011, PetShopBoys_Forever wrote:
    #54 - ----------------------------------------------------------
    I don't doubt that you are right, I just find it a shame that football in this country is so money orientated.

    --------------------------

    It's the same everywhere. Football is such a big marketplace since satellite TV came into being it has had a wider and wider audience with more games across more channels the commercialism has gone mad
    --------------------------
    Exactly. I for one think this is a crying shame. Billions and Billions of pounds in football (especially in this country) and little of it is used for the good of the game.

  • Comment number 78.

    @66 I actually watched Eastham and Hudson play at the Victoria Ground. They were supported by tough hard working players like Denis Smith, Jack Marsh, Mike Pejic and John Mahoney.

    Denis I'm 100% sure if asked (feel free, he is available to take questions!) would agree that if they had had a Delap weapon in their armoury they would have used it big time.

    The fact that you use the term 'Pukis' shows you are not a serious football fan my friend, just another wum.

  • Comment number 79.

    @61 Football_UK

    I'm afraid you must be addressed on certain points.

    Pulis may have altered players within the attack, but it obvious he is after a certain type of player, and wants him to do certain types of things. These would be closing down full bacs, "working the channels", winning headers and holding the ball up.

    I don't even think he'd be bothered if they scored goals, as long as someone bundled the ball over the line.

    Beattie signing was a no brainer, he was scoring goals in the championship, had a history of scoring in the PL and was available at a fair price.

    Tuncay was by no means in the twighlight of his career at Stoke, he signed aged just 27. Pulis insisted in playing him out of position, probably because he wasn't enough of a hulk to provide the game Pulis wants his strikers to play.

    The evidence lies in the fact that Stoke sold Tuncay and brought in Carew.

  • Comment number 80.

    True enough. I wonder how long the wage escalation can go on before a big team goes bust and no-one can save them

  • Comment number 81.

    @11. Barcelona have won a grand total of 0 points from playing pretty football. They have won loads of points by scoring more than the opposition though. They play pretty football in doing so, but unless the scoring is based on Strictly Come Dancing in La Liga then they only get points for winning matches.

    And the only reason I brough Arsene Whinger in to the equation was that he is the biggest moaner about Stoke's style of play (along with everything else in the world).

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    re-63
    Stoke aren't the worse football team in the prem... Birmingham are, one of the advantages of hoofing the ball up the pitch is that it creates chances (which creates excitement, right?) the blues play the most boring brand of football I've ever seen, it reminds me of the football England played last summer or under Steve McClaren, at least stoke work the ball into wide positions with moderately tricky players, Birmingham on the other hand play slow tempo football with no pace on the wings. That said however I'm very glad they beat Arsenal in the Carling Cup and I hope that Stoke or Bolton beat Utd or City in the final. Always root for the underdog regardless of the football because anyone can support Utd or Arsenal but it's true football fans that support their local team through thick and thin.

  • Comment number 84.

    As a Stoke fan I'm feeling great today. We played well when we had the ball and looked to get the ball into the box as early as possible so our striekrs could get on the end of it or force a set piece. This is what we do well and then we build again. We had sustained periods of pressure and from two of these we took full advantage and scored.

    The main difference yesterday was our work when we hadn't got the ball (for the first 70 minutes at least), we chased and harrassed and defended right from the front and whne you do this people make mistakes. Da Costa, Tomkins and Upson on numerous occassions took the option of booting it up to Carlton Cole to win.

    The last 20 minutes we dropped very deep and let Parker and Hitzlsperger carry the ball a lot more than what we had done all match and ultimately let West Ham back in the game. Refereeing decisions aside it was a very competitive match wiht some good tackles goin in from both sides. West Ham fans were in good voice as we were and it made an excellent cup tie.

    We played some good football yesterday, I think a lot of people miss this due to their pre-conceptions of how we operate but I don't mind, infact I would like to see more fans from the opposition missing the movement and passing we play utilising our two proper wingers, Premier League managers should also be blind to this that way we'll be able to get the points required for safety.

  • Comment number 85.

    Lots of people on here griping about how Stoke play. We can be fairly confident that you've never sullied yourselves by going to watch a match in the lower divisions. Probably a good thing because I'm not sure how some of you would cope.

  • Comment number 86.

    @78 - You see that's just my problem - I am a football fan - Pukis football is a term I have used to simply emphasise my personal derision of this style of football. I felt the same way about the old Wimbledon and Watford's of yesteryear. The players you mentioned such as Smith, Marsh and Pejic were tough footballers - yes there is a place for them but to have a whole team wrapped around them is not what the majority of fans wish to see - Bolton will undoubtedly get the neutral vote come semi final day, which tells you everything you need to know about Stoke's style of football. However, on the plus side, such passionate fans deserve something - I just wish it wasn't with this style of football playing at the holy grail of English football.

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 72, Andrewthehammer,

    I somehow feel the need to remind you that, unlike West Ham, Stoke:

    a) they don't have a quid and publicity seeking owner
    b) they don't change managers like shirts
    c) they are financially sound
    d) they have their own, beautiful stadium.

    Where about are West Ham with regard to the points above, in order to have more of a right to be in the premiership? :)

  • Comment number 88.

    Hats off to Tony Pulis. He has done a great job at Stoke, very similar to what Alan Curbishley did at Charlton.

    Stoke are obviously a very physical team but when I have seen them play they also play some very good football in parts too, especially on the counter.

    Matthew Etherington has flourished under Pulis's guidance and Jermaine Pennant has returned to his old form, which shows that Pulis must also have great man-management skills. Both have had chequered pasts off the pitch but Pulis seemingly knows how to get the best out of them.

    Undoubtly they are big team height wise and with the aformentioned Etherington and Pennent they have two of the best crosser's in the division. Add to that the Delap long throw, and they have three fantastic weapons in there arsenal which they utilise well. Teams have used similar tactics previously, Wimbledon in the 90's, Bolton under Big Sam for example.

    As previously stated Stoke are a physical team but these teams are part of what makes our league so great. The physicallity and quickness of play which is not found in other leagues.

    Tony Pulis should be praised for doing the job he has, a very under-rated manager, whose passion for the game can be seen by all whenever he does an interview or press conference.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 79, tomefccam,

    I have to admit I wasn't aware of Tuncay's age. I am not aware about the reasons for selling Tuncay, so I can't comment on that. Carew was a temporary solution for obvious reasons.

    The fact is, though, that Stoke are improving. You mention nothing about Stoke's defense, goalkeepers, wingers and the fact that, with 2-3 additions of certain calibre, Stoke can find themselves playing quite attractive football, easily.

    The Potters seem to be establishing themselves in the premiership, they are financially sound, they don't shy off buying players when opportunities arise and I am quite happy for them.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 88 dave parker,

    very good article. All we missed, both you and myself, is that when you read the Stoke City match sheet, you see more English names than most of Premiership clubs, too!

  • Comment number 91.

    @#89 Football_Uk

    Please see my first post on this blog where I referred to the fact that Bergovic, Shawcross and Huth would fit into any top team.

    However, I do feel that the better players are being held back. I'd include Kenwynne Jones in this. He is a far better player than he is being allowed to be at Stoke.

    Pulis doesn't allow his players to express themselves. You could imagine that if Huth attempted to dribble the ball out of defence, pick out a pass but it gets intercepted and leads to a goal that he would never play for the club again under Pulis.

    He expects his every instruction to be followed, If it isn't, you're no good in spite of the ability you may have.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 91, tomefccam,

    imagine Pulis getting the sack and the comments you would read all over the place on the next day.

    Bruce sold Jones because he has a brilliant match followed by a number of "also there", to be honest.

    In my book, Pulis has brought stability and success to Stoke.
    I wouldn't want another manager because success is one side of the coin: the other side reads relegation.

    It takes time for clubs arriving to the premiership to become established and Stoke are just on their third season. Do you know any premiership side where players are not expected to follow manager's instructions in full?

  • Comment number 93.

    91. At 2:20pm on 14 Mar 2011, tomefccam wrote:
    @#89 Football_Uk

    Please see my first post on this blog where I referred to the fact that Bergovic, Shawcross and Huth would fit into any top team.

    However, I do feel that the better players are being held back. I'd include Kenwynne Jones in this. He is a far better player than he is being allowed to be at Stoke.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I am not entirely sure that it is the way Stoke plays that holds back Kenwynne Jones. Of course Pulis uses his physical abilities when deploying tactics for a game but I think any manager would. I also dont think Pulis would try to stop Jones expressing himself.

    I think Kenwynne Jones's problem lies with Kenwynne Jones. The guy clearly is very talented but he tends to drift in and out of games. One minute he can look fired up and the next minute very dis-interested. He was the same at Sunderland. They were never a physical team like Stoke, they like to play football which is ultimately there downfall at times. Jones used to drift in and out during games at the Stadium of Light which is why I think they probably let him go.

    Whether it is a confidence thing I am not sure, but he definitely needs to become more consistent in his all round performance as well as notching a few more goals.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    94, mambo,

    grow up.
    It takes some cheek to complain about the first Stoke goal, given the way West Ham equalised. Of course, you forget conveniently that prior to equalising West Ham were 'also there' and their spirit was lifted after the handball goal.

  • Comment number 96.

    "Watford's of yesteryear"

    Is that from the Aidy Boothroyd era or when Graham Taylor was manager?


    In one we did just had bit jumps up front and defence which was under the former but under GT we played with real out and out wingers who shock horror would try to cross the ball to get the likes of Jenkins and Blissett goals!

  • Comment number 97.

    @15

    ? Illegal?

    That's just a sick bird. Did you mean unlawful?

  • Comment number 98.

    Its not that 97 messages here , we have made we are famouus ....
    hows Arsenal doing this season ?

  • Comment number 99.

    Stoke could win the cup and get religated.
    or Stoke could also become champions of The Premier still lol.
    but West Ham can only get religated

  • Comment number 100.

    99. At 3:12pm on 14 Mar 2011, Bar_Potters wrote:
    Stoke could win the cup and get religated.
    or Stoke could also become champions of The Premier still lol.
    but West Ham can only get religated
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Are you on drugs??

    Very bizarre post!!

 

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