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Magpies survive at fortress Britannia

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Phil McNulty | 22:47 UK time, Saturday, 11 April 2009

Tony Pulis is taking a break from Stoke City's relegation fight to run the London Marathon - Alan Shearer's sights are set only on a short sprint to safety for Newcastle United.

Pulis will hope Stoke have taken more giant strides towards their goal of staying in the Premier League by the time he starts his 26 miles 385 yards trek for charity on 26 April. Shearer simply wants to negotiate six more games and collect enough points to ensure his emergency mission to save Newcastle from the drop is remembered as a success and not a gallant failure.

And both men emerged with cause for optimism from a typical tear-up near the bottom of the table that was as memorable for the atmosphere inside the Britannia Stadium as it was for the quality of football on offer.

Pulis' after-match briefing mirrored his team's approach - no frills, straight to the point and honest. He could almost have been pre-empting a somewhat upbeat view of Newcastle's performance from Shearer when he said: "Don't let anyone kid you, we were the better team over the 90 minutes." And he was right. No-one should be kidded. Newcastle's long-overdue improvement in the last 20 minutes may have brought Andy Carroll's vital equaliser, but Stoke were the team who produced the more compelling evidence to suggest they will stay in the top flight.

Shearer must talk up Newcastle. He has to rebuild shattered confidence amongst his players, who have heard enough criticism of their efforts this season. However, the Magpies were, for 70 minutes, strictly second best and offered little to suggest Shearer had started to shape a team in his own image and likeness.

Pulis and Shearer square up at the Britannia Stadium

He drew encouragement from a late rally and Newcastle doing what many have failed to do - taking a point away from Stoke, one that could yet be vital in the final reckoning. He was also heartened that his defenders stood up to Stoke's aerial assault, while youngster Carroll gave him what he was looking for after urging Newcastle's young players to make an irrefutable case for inclusion.

After that, genuine pluses were in short supply. Newcastle's midfield lacked bite and creation, while Shearer has not worked out how best to service Michael Owen, who barely received a pass worthy of the name in the entire 90 minutes. Newcastle's cause was not helped by the loss of Obafemi Martins, who withdrew from the team at 11am on Saturday after waking up with a sore groin. There may be a funny side to that, but Shearer was never likely to see it.

It will be a long, slow road to recovery for Newcastle. Shearer's task is to gather sufficient momentum so they survive this season before either he or someone else takes what many believe is the impossible job forward next term. Carroll's goal must not shield him from the reality that Stoke should have had matters wrapped up by adding to Abdoulaye Faye's 33rd-minute goal, scored after referee Chris Foy wrongly awarded them a corner.

Pulis has been damned with faint praise, or at times no praise at all, at various stages this season but there is much to admire about him as a manager and Stoke as a team and club. This was hardly their finest hour - for much of this breathless affair, the fare was average - but it was easy to detect why their formidable home record has provided the bedrock of their campaign.

The Britannia Stadium provides one of the most intoxicating experiences in the Premier League, albeit a harrowing one unless you are either associated with Stoke City Football Club or a neutral. From Eminem blasting out before kick-off through 90 minutes in the company of supporters who simply do not do quiet or subdued, Stoke are enjoying every second of their Premier League experience and it is the special environment inside the Britannia that has given them every chance of staying there.

Stoke have pulled off the trick that has proved elusive to others. They have left a famous location, in this instance the dear old Victoria Ground, and not just replicated the atmosphere but improved upon it. Everything is done at full volume - even the football. If Stoke stay up, this simple fact cannot be under-estimated.

Pulis' approach has been questioned by so-called purists who would clearly prefer Stoke to football their way straight back into the Championship - much in the manner of their Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion. But Stoke's manager employs the style best suited to keep his team in the Premier League - and he has stuck to his principles just as adhesively as Tony Mowbray at The Hawthorns, except that one manager currently has a much better chance of staying up than the other. This is not a harsh commentary on the affairs of West Bromwich Albion, just the reality and a matter of approach.

I asked Shearer how hard it was to bring a side to the Britannia, which provides an all-out assault on the senses for any visitors - and he admitted it was a fierce examination for Newcastle. He explained: "You come into a very hostile atmosphere. It is a very difficult game. You know what you will face most games and I thought my players handled the situation and the way Stoke played very well." He added: "Stoke have had a fantastic season. They look as if they are enjoying it and deserve to be where they are. "

Newcastle also deserve to be where they are - rooted in the bottom three - but Shearer sees enough to suggest they can stay up, with north-east rivals Sunderland adding another layer of intrigue to the fight for survival with their continuing slump. "There are going to be so many twists and turns," he said. "You have got to stay calm, stay focused. I was pleased with the way my players handled this situation because it is a difficult place and lots of teams have crumbled under this pressure. We didn't and both my players and myself can take heart from that."

Stoke can also take heart from the fact that they have three eminently winnable home games left at their fortress, against Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United and Wigan Athletic. Pulis may be planning for a marathon while Shearer contemplates a sprint - but both Stoke and Newcastle have the same aim in mind as the Premier League's finishing tape comes into view.


  • Comment number 1.

    well said Phil...

    Pulis is not praised enough on how well we are doing this season with such little resources.

    Let's just hope we don't suffer from second season syndrome :(

  • Comment number 2.

    Stoke had the best away support seen at Goodison this season (filling their entire allocation)unlike teams like Fulham, Middlesborough, Wigan and Blackburn where you are lucky to get more than a handful. I really hope they stay up, just for their fans! Newcastle will implode completely if they get relegated. Another Nottingham Forest waiting to happen!

  • Comment number 3.

    good article Phil. One point though, You comment that there is no evidence that Shearer has moulded the team in his own image and likeness, I agree but give the guy a chance. The last twenty minutes were encouraging yesterday and they got a point. Hiddink at Chelsea has been able to have an immediate impact, but he has twenty years more experience in management and a slightly better squad at his disposal.

    The relegation battle is as interesting as the chase for the title and it looks lie its going to the wire. There are still 18 points to play for and considering the closeness of the bottom third of the table this will give most of those involved hope to crawl out of trouble.

    West Brom look doomed, whilst I fear for Hull. They have a really tough run in and on Match of the Day yesterday they looked bereft of confidence and the confidence and belief seems to be draining from the manager as well who seemed to be harbouring sour grapes in is post match interview.

  • Comment number 4.

    Glossop Everton Fan - what is it that suggests Newcastle will 'implode' and do a 'Forest' if we go down? I can't believe that'll happen, due to the fact that Ashley loves money too much in order for him to sell the club at a massive loss - I think that we'd regain premiership status (not immediately by any means) and that Ashley would then sell once we're back in the top flight. I do believe that we'll get relegated even if we manage to win all our remaining home games. This will be a devastating blow, it's something I've experienced before and it's hideous. However, if Ashley has learned from his mistakes then he'll give Big Al a 5 year contract and let him see it out - Shearer would sort the club out from top to bottom, and at least we'd have a team that played with a passion every week regardless of results.
    Optimism still survives though, and with Andy Carroll playing regularly then we'd have a chance - the lad is just what we need, Toon-daft, powerful, can score and is as hard as nails. His 20 minute cameo yesterday put the pathetic attempt by Shola to complete shame.
    Finally, well done Stoke. Definitely surviving and I don't reckon you'll suffer second season syndrome. Pulis is an excellent manager and has been wherever he's been. It's good to see one of life's grafters eventually get his place in the sun. The January signings of Beattie and Etherington were the shrewdest of the window and the atmosphere at the Britannia is a welcome break from the monotony of most PL stadiums - hope it reamins the same next season.

  • Comment number 5.

    To jamrock107...thanks for the response. This was not meant as a any sort of criticism of Shearer. I would not expect a turnaround in two games and he can be pleased with the resilience and improvement shown in the latter stages of the game. This is what he will be looking to build on in the final six games.

    It is a huge task for Shearer - but I stand by my original statement that Newcastle have a much better chance of staying up now he is in charge than they did before.

  • Comment number 6.

    At last some praise!!!

    #2 Thought we were in superb voice at Goodison - "There's only one Vicky Pollard" followed by "yeah but ni but, yeah but no but" to the fat lass in the pink tracksuit was the funniest thing I've seen this season.

    Too many fans up and down the country simply don't understand footabll, Stoke were never going to come up and try to out football teams. There are some of teh best players in teh world in eth Premier League, Stoke simply don't have the quality to play that way. TP tries to get us to play up the pitch and I for 1 agree with the approach. Lat week at the Hawthorns we outplayed the Baggies (not hard I know). We dominated Newcastle for most of the game yesterday and played the better football. Looking at the Baggies and Newcasle it's all sideways!

    Stoke staying up, Baggies, Boro and sun bed mans Hull to go down

  • Comment number 7.

    Well done Mr.Shearer,
    two great substitutions at a crucial point in the game at sandcastle Brittania.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great article Phil, sums up yesterday perfectly

    I have been waiting for someone to look at the relagation picture, as it tends to be overshadowed by the title race, but now the season is reaching it's climax I would be interested to read more views from the likes of yourself as I feel it needs a bit more coverage.

    Stoke are in a good position to stay up now, I cant see us doing it, as you say in the article 3 more winnable home games, I think two more victories in any of the remaining fixtures will see us safe. Our style of play has been the cause of much scrutiny this season, mainly by the teams that have been undone by it. Let's face it the players at Stoke don't have the abiltiy to take on the like's of Arsenal etc and outfootball them at the moment, but if we manage to stay up, I hope we will be able to attract a better quality of player and make progression with the style of football.

    I also feel that most teams would like us to go down just so that they dont have to come to the Britannia again next season, the atmosphere is very intimidating and I have seen it show an effect on teams, the Man City game as an example.

    Do you feel Stoke will stay up?

  • Comment number 9.

    agreed.It is a huge task and yes with Shearer they do stand a far better chance of survival, his appointment though does have the feel of a last throw of the dice, an attempt to galvanize the club and its supporters past the finishing line and disguise the fact that their football and in house politics this season have rarely done credit to their perennially zealous fans.

  • Comment number 10.

    Phil what happened to your promis to blog about the relegation battle not just the big clubs? This is the second successive "Shearer" blog. What do you think of Middlesborughs win? To little too late, a turning point in their season or a little added spice to the run in? And how about Harrys comments that being 4 points above the relegation zone is "safe"? Do you agree or think he could end up with egg on his face?

  • Comment number 11.

    Mr McNulty, excellent read - thanks.

    Its strange why Tony Pulis hasn't had the recognition you would expect for someone who is on the verge of delivering a second miracle in 2 years, his first being getting Stoke to the Premier League and his second maybe keeping them there.

    As a previous comment has been made, I think the atmosphere at the Britannia Stadium is down to the realisation of the Stoke fans that this is what we have been dreaming about for many dark years. For example the atmosphere last season was good, but not as good as now.

    People in Stoke on Trent are starting to debate if Tony Pulis is on a par with the late great Tony Waddington in management terms, yet the media are more minded to find reasons to knock his style of football for reasons only known to them. It's a good job he only care about Stoke City FC position the views of his Chairman and clubs fans.

    Alan Shearer was a great footballer and time will tell if he will become a great manager. One question I ask is if the job is so easy that someone like him can come in for the last eight games and turn the fortunes of the club round, why has that club had 10 or more managers in the last 10 years? Why would anyone take the job on for 8 games. steer the club to safety then go back to working on Match of the Day? £1.8 million reasons I hear the voice in my head say!

  • Comment number 12.

    To edgepotter...looking at the home fixtures remaining and having sampled the Britannia atmosphere again, I do think Stoke City will stay up. And if they do it is a great credit to the manager, players and supporters.

    If teams want you to go down, then Stoke should thrive on that. It shows you must be doing something right.

    To laughingdevil...articles on Newcastle ARE focusing on relegation - and it is as much an article about Stoke and Tony Pulis as Alan Shearer.

    Middlesbrough's win at least gives them hope. They needed to beat Hull, nothing else would have done, so they are still in there fighting.

    And no, I would never regard being four points above the relegation zone as safe.

    Questions for Stoke fans. Is the atmosphere at The Brittania better than the Victoria Ground? I attended games at the Victoria Ground many times (age given away there) and I do not recall it being as noisy and hostile as The Britannia.

    What is the secret? Is it simply the fans or is there more to it than that? I'd be interested to know.

  • Comment number 13.

    As my point of view as an Everton fan, we know what it's like to be there, 1994 and all. Newcastle don't have the players to fight they're way out. They will need to kick every team, make every 30/70 ball their's. Be prepared to pick up cards and generally unpleasant. Sorry but they don't have the players. Most may think they do. Newcastle will go down I'm afraid. An expected loss at Spurs next week with two three above them picking up points will leave too much to do against much better teams.

    Championship may really kill the toon with all that wage bill, a dodgy owner and players who don't want to be there. It accurately reflects where Newcastle should be I'm afraid, never quite well run enough to be successful...

  • Comment number 14.

    Looking at the fixture lists and current form sadly, i feel Newcastle will get relegated.

  • Comment number 15.

    newcastle are a disaster no doubt about it but the constant abuse that gets hurled at the team from the media is unfair, shearer should just be left to do his job which is hard enough already then to have people writing him off everyday. The team played poorly on saturday against a team who were just as poor, Stoke did not play well otherwise they would have scored 2 or 3 and finished Newcastle off. They do generate a gladiator style atmosphere at the Brittania but they do not play good football they can only play as a team and that has worked for them unlike Newcastle who are the complete opposite. If you give Alan enough time to sort out his team (hopefully he will not play Shola Ameobi again) then I believe that he can steer us away from the relegation battle with a few draws away from home like that against Stoke and winning all of the home games we have left then were staying up. We have the quality there with Jonas, Duff (at times) and good battlers like Butt and Nolan so we can out do Boro and the Mackems. So stop slagging off Shearers team after two difficult opening games and just watch him turn or season around

  • Comment number 16.

    As I only watched football at the Victoria Ground for two seasons I can't comment on your question Phil. But the atmosphere at the Brit this season is quite a contrast from the rest of the time we have played there. Until we were almost promoted last season there was a constant barrage of complaints that we never should have left the Vic, the atmosphere at The Brit is rubbish etc. It's very rare that you will hear that now. A comment by Mark Lawrenson on MOTD a few weeks ago about Villa fans booing your own player said that you'd never get Stoke fans doing that. Well, I've news for you Lawro, we were even doing that last season.

    I think the reason for the change this year is that we know how much simply playing at the top flight of english football means. I'm too young to have been alive in the 84-85 season, so it feels like my entire life has been building up to this and it's that outpouring of bottled up feelings that stimulates an atmosphere that I can't remember seeing in the top flight for a long time.

  • Comment number 17.

    In response to Phil - I'll tell you what is different about The Brit, and Stoke in general. We are stuck mid way between Brum and Manchester, and are always supposed to be a liitle club, little city. But we've waited 20 odd years for this and EVERYONE around Stoke City is chuffed to be here!!!! WE ARE STOKE WE ARE STOKE WE ARE STOKE!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    "Fortress Britannia"
    Hmm. The mighty Fulham, Hull and Portsmouth have all managed draws there and Stoke have won only 50 per cent of home games in the PL this season. Not exactly OT or Anfield is it? I pity the person who wanted to see a match from the "best league in the world" and witnessed that rubbish.
    I don't really get this obsession with Shearer anyway. He is in this for eight games only (his own words.) Name any other first time manager who would be judged on such a basis.

  • Comment number 19.

    As of today all teams lower in the table than Stoke City have to contend with a possibility of being relegated. It can be a challenge as well as a bugbear on their nerves. It will sort the good teams from the ordinary passengers ready to dismount as and when the bus stops.

    It is only the fighting quality that makes most observers say Stoke are above suspicion. Like Stoke many a time earlier, Bolton and Sunderland demonstrated yesterday what they are made of. Fighters every inch of the way. At the business end of the competition that is what is needed most. No facile alibis of home or away will do. There are as many tough games as there are easy ones. Just ask Chelsea or Manchester United what hell they went through at the the hands of Bolton and Sunderland respectively.

    Two noncontrolabe elements that can strike any team are injury and poor supervision. These are best taken as part of your lot. The FA could possibly move mountains to ensure at least the latter aspect is not influenced too much by the so called human factor. But more the things change, more they tend to stay the same. EPL is years old and the virus remains unmitigated.

    Beauty of this year's premier league competition has been that all teams above WBA i.e. Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Sunderland, Blackburn, Hull City and Portsmouth are separated by a mere 4 points. That is a very ripe circumstance for any of them to perform the Houdini act. Which four of the six will escape? Alan Shearer has descended on Newcastle United with that sole mission on his courageous mind.

  • Comment number 20.

    Please stop writing about Newcastle... you really know so little about what's actually going on.

  • Comment number 21.

    ~12 Phil's question to Stokies

    Phil, Stokies are down-to-earth, realistic and sick and tired of the "know alls" writing us of.

    The Brit only really started to take-off atmosphere wise last season really - once a success starved fan base had realised some of the great days, that were SCFCs heritage, could return. Before that many of us had loved in the Vic and lived in the Boothen End. That's where we saw Stoke smash Leeds unbeaten run and SCFC beat Arsenal 5-0 in their double season. That was where we saw great players brought together under Waddo.

    The promotion was a dream come true, as it is for any team, but Stokies spent the close season just being happy at being given the chance to play in the premiership. They also spent the close season being written off - the best thing that anyone could have done to the Potteries. We've been ignored by the Midlands TV and media bunch and the same has applied in Granada/NW land. So we had the cocktail for a siege mentality and the Delilah anthem to rock the opposition.

    The short answer is WE ARE STOKE, WE ARE ... and proud to be. We aren't there - yet. But if we do it - it will be down to Pulis and the boys, Stokies around the world and things like Pottermouth's battle Cry.

    So "gew on Mr Pewlis, doo eet for Stokies around the world, do eet for Meir Tunnel, Hanley Bus Station, Wedgwood, Dennis Smith, et al". And if you know what all that is about - then you're a Stokie!!

  • Comment number 22.

    #7. capricornGeordieboy
    "Well done Mr.Shearer ... at sandcastle Brittania"

    Hmmm - sourgrapes? Thought you lot would have been too busy being delirious with having scraped a point - to bother with snippy little comments. Bit rich that, given that SJP has been as rock-solid as a rice pudding this season.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    I would think at this stage, Newcastle as a club deserve a spell in the second division. (oops championship). The last time Stoke were in the top flight was a long time ago, but as a kid I had them as a subuteo ( spelling) team.
    This season has shown clubs like Hull and Stoke can come up and make a big impression. It will be unjust I would say for either of those two teams to go down. Newcastle have proven that Joe Kinnear knows something and but for his health could have been a 'great manager' and that Shay Given is probably the most under rated keeper around. Without either of these two Newcastle have finally collapsed.
    I have never rated the intelligence of shearer nor his bravery. He is a man who won little because he was afraid to step up to the big time. He liked being the big fish in the small pond. Newcastle will always be the biggest club with the best support in Newcastle. Nothing else. I would much prefer to see the battling Stoke and Hull over the Likes of the Ashley Crew any day.

  • Comment number 25.

    The reason for the atmosphere at the ground and the battling performances are the togetherness felt throughout the club. The constant sniping from other fans, pundits, etc as created a unique atmosphere around the city.
    Before a ball was kicked we were labeled as the new Derby, after we won a couple it was purely down to Delaps throw. Following our win over Arsenal the Whinger complained about our physical approach. This constant sniping has galvanized the club as never before and resulted in rewards the realistic fans (realism, may need to be explained to WBA and Newcastle supporters) are more than happy with.
    Stoke don't play as a team, we play as a club. We make the best use of our relatively limited resources and have pulled together to nearly cross our own finishing line. If this upsets the media obsessed big 4, so what? We are Stoke.

  • Comment number 26.

    Dear 'Moderators'

    It's typical of the BBC to send emails that ordinary people can't reply to. Hence this route:

    As expected, it's against your self-serving 'rules' to question the competence of a BBC employee. Is it any wonder that more and more people resent paying the license fee? McNulty is probably a really nice bloke but why should a true professional be afraid of criticism? Do we no longer live in a democracy? What ever happened to freedom of speech? Unless you have something interesting to say, please don't bother to reply. I don't need a load of flannel.


    PS Another point: the 'security checks' for 'have your say' are a complete joke. None of the newspaper sites are so paranoid. Are you worried that someone is going to hijack the site? Ever considered getting a proper job?

  • Comment number 27.


    If you knew anything about football in general you would know Stoke have the best home record outside the top 4. So The Brit might not be OT, or Anfield, or the Bridge or the Emirates. But its the best of rest. Go on you rip roaring POTTERS!!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Pulis' talent has been to work out how to survive in the Premiership with a mediocre team.....take everyone by surprise with an unexpected gimmick, ie Delaps throw ins, take the hard knocks once the gimmick's been sussed out and hope the team grows, and get a couple of talented misfits in during the transfer window. All very crafty and hopefully it'll work. What a lot of people haven't noticed is that Stoke have turned into a pretty good team recently with players like Faye and Whelan coming on. My worry is that Pulis hasn't either. Take his comments yesterday about it being positive that Stoke came out and attacked a team 5 places lower than them...he's spent all these years scrapping for survival, can he get the hang of something better?

  • Comment number 29.

    Posters 24 and 25 - really? Questioning Shearer's bottle because he decided to spend the majority of his career with the club he loved as a kid? Making crass statements about us deserving to be relegated - why do we deserve to be relegated more than let's say, for example, Spurs, who are managed by the much-loved Harry Redknapp - the same 'Arry who said he'd never leave Portsmouth for a second time after leaving, then managing their bitterest rivals? 'Realism' needed by NUFC fans - you truly know nothing about what Newcastle fans want and expect - the vast majority of NUFC fans that is. I suggest that you either move to the city for a few months, or read the web pages of the excellent independent NUFC websites before making such ill-founded and wholly inaccurate statements. A club that attracts an attendance of 52,000 forf a game that they were always going to lose, after a run of 1 win in 13 and no home win since December, is not a club whose fans have unrealistic expectations.
    All the best

  • Comment number 30.

    Not really many 'Toon' fans out there defending their charges? Are they all at Mass? Self confessed 'die hard and best supporters' in the land, much of the chopping and changing of managers is down to the short sighted nature of most Newcastle fans. I lived and breathed it for ten years, a winning team was never necessarily a good team.

    They will ultimately go down amongst recriminations and accusations...........

    Couldn't agree more with comments about Shearer, never had the bottle to swim in the big pool, his influence at Newcastle corroded both managers and players alike. Newcastle should have cashed in on him and let several players blossom without his over massaged ego taking control.

    Looking forward to how the Toon will manage without the big crowds and with the Championship fayre....

  • Comment number 31.

    Yabooga.......Newcastles biggest problem is the fans unrealistic expectations. If Allardyce was still at the club you would not be in the bottom 3. Every pre season the Newcastle boards are full of Europe, Champions League, winning FA Cup etc. After it all goes laughably wrong we then have to witness the scenes of mass hysteria as Messiah I, II, III, IV.....arrives to continue the soap opera for another trophyless year.
    I have no axe to grind with Newcastle, as long as Stoke don't go down I don't really care who does. However the talk of "Newcastle shouldn't go down as we have 50,000 fans" is utter rot. The clubs who don't deserve to go down are those who operate within a budget, don't run up massive debts, don't have 2 or 3 managers a season and don't have delusions of grandieur.

  • Comment number 32.

    Xavierneville - well-thought out and educated comments such as those made by true football fans as yourself are the reason that I read blogs such as this. Thanks for telling it like it is - your clear appreciation of fact, and lack of hyperbole and lies is to be commended.

  • Comment number 33.

    To Yabooga...have to agree with that. Shearer's courage should never be doubted. He is one of the finest strikers of the modern era and the easy thing for him to do would have been to give the Newcastle vacancy a wide berth for his first crack at management.

    Let's hear from a few more Stoke fans about your season and whether you feel you will stay up. As I said previously, I do believe Stoke will be in the Premier League next season.

  • Comment number 34.

    I feel that this Stoke team have taken many by surprise, including some Stoke supporters! I can well remember the early 1970's when we were genuinely in with a chance of the championship and I thnk that the feeling now compares well with then, even though that now may well be beyond us. In all honesty, the negative stuff probably helps, we are always the underdogs. The atmosphere at the Brit is great - better than the Vic , or at east more consistently so. We never had so many full houses and for example at the game against Man City the crowd really were superb. I do not think the 1970's team would have had the character to win that match. That is probably the main difference now - that's down to Pulis. Like him or not, he is quite a manager.

  • Comment number 35.

    Stokie75 (post #31) - please don't perpetuate the myth that we Newcastle fans have unrealistic expectations. None of us expect to win a trophy in the foreseeable future, so why you and many, many other people keep saying that is beyond me. WE DO NOT!!!!

    All we expect is to have a team who play with passion and commitment for the club - is that really too much to ask?

    You cannot blame us for the slapdash way the club is being run by successive chairmen.

    Believe me, we want an end to the soap opera as much as anyone. I am sick of the way that the club I run is continually in the headlines for the wrong reasons. You should count your blessings that your club seems to be well-run - you have no idea what us Newcastle fans have to put up with season in, season out.

  • Comment number 36.

    Every game is a special occasion at the Britannia. At the start of the season the games had the atmosphere of FA Cup ties where Stoke were the lower league opponents hoping to pull off a giant killing - and in the Villa, Spurs and Arsenal games Stoke did just that.
    Since the draw with Liverpool and the win against Manchester City there has been a subtle change. A real belief that Stoke could stay up began to emerge. Already loud supporters were further encouraged by Pulis' constant endorsement of their importance to the team and the noise levels in the last two games have literally made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck!
    This season has been a collective adventure and one the supporters want to experience again next year - and 16,000 0f us have renewed season tickets already, which says it all.
    As for the football, it's not pretty and a fair few players would struggle to get into any other premiership team, but there is excellence with Sorenson, Abdoulaye Faye (my vote for Stoke's player of the year) and Shawcross all leading from the back, and what a buy Beattie has been.
    I have two words to say to Tony Pulis - THANK YOU.

  • Comment number 37.

    "...while Shearer has not worked out how best to service Michael Owen..."
    Maybe by starting Argentina international Jonas Gutierrez, who is perhaps the best player Newcastle have right now, including Owen. He is fast, skillful, and works as hard as he can to give 100% every game. That's more than I can say for most of our players.
    Starting Duff instead of Jonas? Please... and we wonder why we're in the relegation zone.

  • Comment number 38.

    hey phil, you say "I would never regard being four points above the relegation zone as safe". what about with one game of the season left?

  • Comment number 39.

    #27 May I suggest you glance at the league table?

  • Comment number 40.

    As usual Phil and your best mate yubooga or whatever. Shearer has clearly pulled the wool over your eyes. If he cared that much and it was not the easy thing to do then why didn't he offer to step in earlier? It would of been much easier with more games to save a free falling team. Easy a decent run of games in charge would expose him for what he is! This way he wins both ways. How many times does it need to be said? He takes the soft option.

    I bet he wishes he had the players Stoke do, sure they're not all flair players but they will be playing Prem Footy next
    Year whilst, Owen, Martins et al embrace Doncaster away. Well played Stoke and I hope you stick with Pulis and build on it next year

  • Comment number 41.

    Some people, like Fergie and Shearer, will always be written as heroes.

    No matter the reality or turth.

  • Comment number 42.

    Newcastle to go down, not that they deserve to, no-one deserves to be relegated but they are from my point of view in a complete mess and not likely to sort themselves out within 6 games. hell they've had 32 that shows they haven't managed that yet so why would six more prove any different>

  • Comment number 43.

    I have a faint impression that Shearer was once called upon, may be before Kinnear, to take over at NCU in some capacity and that he probably declined. I am not into exact details or may be it is just a notion.

    Anyway, the point I wish to make here is that I do not believe it is a win-win situation for Alan. While it is Heluljah all the way if NCU stay up, it will be rope-a-dope indeed if they fail to make the cut. I do not think he has come in for the possible glory. In my book it has to be the intensity of his loyalty to his old club. And he has put a lot on the table to try and keep it afloat. So I'll never ever doubt his bottle. I wish him all the success.

    And I admire Yabooga for standing up for the guy in a no uncertain manner.

  • Comment number 44.

    Stokiefan - you really have sucked up all the rubbish written about NUFC in gutter press newspapers by hack journalists and the absolute garbage of the televised sporting version of the Daily Mail, Sky Sports News. As I mentioned in a previous post, we do not have unrealistic expectations. Nobody has stated that we believe we deserve to stay up just because we get 50,000 - if we go down, we deserve to go down regardless of the support we get. Nobody expected Euro qualification at the start of this season, the previous one under Allardyce and the one prior to that under Roeder - as I suggested, please read websites such as or (not or spend some time getting to know Newcastle fans. No Newcastle fan as ever referred to a messiah since the first coming (as a manager) of KK - and in footballing terms he performed a miracle. No manager since has been called a messiah by anyone other than the press. As for Allardyce, past history - the fans sang him off in his last game (against Stoke ironically enough). We may not have had a relegation battle under him, but Ashley, not the fans, sacked him - so if you believe that a club and city deserve relegation for the act of one man then that's your opinion. As I mentioned, I've nothing but pure admiration for Pulis and Stoke's fans have been a breath of fresh air to the often staid PL this season. I've based my comments on Stoke on what I know for fact, please base yours on Newcastle on the same. All the best.

  • Comment number 45.

    jim_fix...I'll give you that one!

    Let's hear more from Stoke fans about the players who have excelled for you this season and about your manager and what he has done at the club.

    If you've had what you feel is unfair criticism, this is a chance to correct it.

  • Comment number 46.

    WOW! A football article having a go at Newcastle. I have seen everything. Phil, you have said and rightly so the Stoke dominated the opening 70 mins of the game. BUT as a football journalist you should know that a football match lasts 90 (or 95 at old trafford). So what Newcastle were awful for 70 minutes Stoke were about as awful for that long at St James earlier in the season and all anyone talked about after that game was the "tremendous Character" shown by Stoke to get something from the game that THEY were out played in. But as usual when the tables are turned it does not matter that Newcastle come out, tried, and got something out of a game they probably should not have. If that was Manchester United or Liverpool that had done that against Stoke it would be because of the quality in the side.

    I agree that the table does not lie, but when Newcastle go down it will mean the media have got the sacrifice that it craves so you can claim that the Premier League is competitive. The premier league IS NOT competitive, in fact it is becoming the most monotenous drivel.

    Newcastle, like Tottenham, Aston Villa, Everton, are there to make up the numbers. Football used to be competitive and now it has been reduced to providing average footballers a pension.

    Soon the top 4 will be like the top 2 in Scotland, complaining when the other teams are not giving them enough of a match because you know that you are going to lose to them. Who wants to go to a game when you already know you are going to lose regardless of how well you play.

    PS I am a Berwick Rangers fan

  • Comment number 47.

    # 39. KingArthuronice wrote:
    #27 May I suggest you glance at the league table? - that's a somewhat feeble defence of your OP #18!

    Let's do what you suggest - look at the table .. its the home form (one of the best outside top 4) that has gone a long way to hopefully securing safety.

    That was the basis of the point made by Mr McNulty and other posters. Stoke were rank outsiders when they started the season [certainties to go down according to the connoisseurs of football :-)]. In that context alone, the home form is first class.

    Sadly, for those souls who expect teams that haven't been in the top flight for a quarter of a century, it's extremely unrealistic to expect them to construct a team in the first season and spray the ball about with gay abandon - and stay up. Ask WBA!!

    If SCFC have a few seasons with their snouts in the cash trough, as many of the top flighters have, then we should make progress in that direction.

    Rome aint built in a day.

  • Comment number 48.

    Is the Brit better than the Old Vic? This season yes, by a country mile. Why? Because we've had to wait 24 long long dark years for this. Before beating the Baggies last week our last victory in the top flight was 1-0 away at Luton Town in the 83-84 season, a goal by Ian Painter. I was there and I was 11! Two of the lads I sit with have never seen us in the top flight before, in fact both were still in nappies last time we were there. There is a whole generation of supporters who see Stoke as a lower division side, and rightly so. My question to all the knockers is would you still be getting a season ticket for your club if they were mid table in the 3rd tier of football? Answer is most of you wouldn't.

    Pre season I predicted Hull Baggies and Boro to go, looks like I might have got that right.

    Why is the atmosphere so good at the Brit? Several factors in my opinion.

    1. The fans have been waiting so long we are going to make it count, as it could be another 24 years until we get another chance.
    2. The press and other 'fans' continually slate us never give us credit where credit is due. We don't need fans of teams who have mega rich billionaires buying them world class players telling us that we're not very good. We know that, we've been following Stoke for decades we are well aware we don't have footballers.
    3. TP has moulded a side that gives everything, every game. Stoke-on-Trent is a depressed area, with poor pay, poor education and a benefit dependent culture. What we expect to see are players giving their all, and we'll get behind them 100% no matter how good or bad they are.
    4. Paddy Power, a cheap publicity trick paying out on Stoke going down after our opening day loss at Bolton. They paid out about £27,000 and certainly got their monies worth of publicity. Not only did that infuriate the fans it has helped to galvanise everyone at the club. Manager, players, chairman and the fans.
    5. TP being installed as favourite to get the sack!!! This just shows how little people know about Stoke City. His job is safer than Sir Alex Ferguson's.
    6. All the above has helped to create a siege mentality at the Brit. Long may it continue.
    7. Pottermouth's war cry, do not underestimate the influence of this lyrical genius. For those of you that have yet to hear Pottermouth's 1st foray into Hip Hop may I suggest absolute genius

    I'm going to carry on singing my heart out from now until the final whistle at the Emmirates (we will be safe by then I promise). A hard fought victory next week against Blackburn. Then Craven Cottage is going to experience something new, an atmosphere!

  • Comment number 49.

    Post 27 stated Stoke had *the* best home record outside of the top four.
    You have modified that to "one of the best" which I cannot argue with but the two statements are not the same. My contention was with the headline that the Britannia was a "fortress." Suppose Stoke had drawn every home game, some would boast "we never get beat at home" but you would be presently bottom of the league. I also accurately identified three not so stellar clubs who had managed draws there, two of which are still in relegation trouble, so in my opinion it was not such a great feat for Newcastle to do the same, though I agree they were mostly outplayed. My comment was not anti-Stoke, nor anti-Newcastle, but anti-media. Mr. Shearer has had two games as manager and two blogs devoted to them. This latter one based on a game which under normal circumstances would be best forgotten. You may feel that hard facts are "a feeble defence" but as a neutral I am not inclined to the ifs, buts and maybes of a manager or strident fan.

  • Comment number 50.

    18. At 2:32pm on 12 Apr 2009, KingArthuronice wrote:
    "Fortress Britannia"

    I don't really get this obsession with Shearer anyway. He is in this for eight games only (his own words.) Name any other first time manager who would be judged on such a basis.
    That's precisely WHY he took the job on explicitly for 8 games.
    It means he can take the plaudits if they stay up yet escape criticism if they go down and leave with his reputation relatively intact. Quite astute I think.

  • Comment number 51.


    Yep, I get Shearer's viewpoint but why are the media (in this case the BBC) so intrigued? OK, he is a sometime employee on MOTD. So what?
    I do often wonder if these 'bloggers' are free to write about any football topic or are they instructed, persuaded or cajoled into writing about a certain topic and then have to make the most of it? Cue Phil making a firm statement of his independence (I don't expect you to bad-mouth your employers) but then why two Shearer blogs in two games? Is that really public service 'broadcasting'?

  • Comment number 52.

    Phil, at the risk of opening up pandoras box, I agree with all the other Stoke posters regarding why the atmosphere at the Brit has been exceptional this year. There is one more.

    We are a working class club in a working class area.

    I've sat with the home supporters at Anfield and Old Trafford this year and it was a very pleasent experience, (apart from being completely outplayed by Utd). Why was it so pleasent an unthreatening? I was surrounded by well healed, middle class prawn sandwich eating supporters.

    At the Brit, there is one seating area that is constanly critised by other fans, and that is the West Stand Upper, and it will be of no surprise that this is where the most expensive seats are located.

    Years of under acheivement and an economically mis-managed City means that Stoke City FC is the only PL club with history, (we won the league cup in '72, when did Newcastle last with a major trophey?)that working class fans are able to form the vast majority of its support.

  • Comment number 53.

    This blog is always miles ahead of the other bloggers. Its quality and variety. Nice work Phil...tell Robbo to read and learn...

  • Comment number 54.

    I am constantly amazed by football fans that tell me I have an unrealistic expectation or make unreasonable demands as a Newcastle fan. My first game was in 1971 which means I have seem them win nothing. That's right; nothing. Winning the old second division title is promotion only. Does that sound unreasonable, or am I simply one of the many that support my team with passion because thay are my local team. If we go down (which still looks likely, despite a good fighting point at Stoke) I will go and watch them in a different league. I rather fancy, many thousands will do the same and we will probably be the best supported team outside of the top division. If we stay up, Shearer will rightly be lauded for the achievment. Let's be fair, two weeks ago I, as a Newcastle fan, couldn't see where our next point was coming from. Even as I read this back to myself, I can't see anything unrealistic about it. Perceptions, eh?

  • Comment number 55.

    Phil: you asked why is the atmosphere different or better at Brit than at Victoria. It is different and the reason is partly explained by the reasons give above. It also, however, has something to do with the moment that happened last season when we drew with Newcastle in the FA Cup. The stadium was full for the first time in years and it was full of a carnival atmosphere. The o-o draw and the atmosphere there taught us all that the violence and hooligan reputation of Stoke was over and encouraged us to come without fear. The draw allowed us to believe and in a world where there is little to be happy about or to identify with Stoke have provided a spark of hope and a ray of life for us all in Stoke. It has allowed us all to participate the the celebrity of the game.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nothing unites people more than a common enemy..and our common enemy this season has been The Media and The 'Bookies' who had Stoke relegated before a ball was even kicked this season.

    Well whose laughing now?

    The old Victoria Ground atmosphere was never all it was cracked-up to be, and I was a season-ticket holder (Butler Street Stand) for 12 years, so I say that with some authenticity. The amosphere at The Britannia was pretty awful to be honest with average gates of under 14,000 before this season. Now we're selling out nearly every game but are drawing our support from a much wider area than The Potteries and have a different 'breed' of supporter who expects loo-roll in the holder and soap on the sink..

    How Times Have Changed and long may it continue...

  • Comment number 57.

    As a young lad myself at the old Victoria Ground the noise levels at The Britannia Stadium is much more intense. For one game I would love to sit in the away end with the quiet away fans and sample the atmosphere when we score and obviously not jumping up to cheer like I did at chelsea this season ;-).
    Tony Pulis knows how much the supporters play a part in getting on the back of the opposition. I've been there and sang the songs aimed at particular players e.g Gerrard, Ronaldo and Robinho and it affects their game. Where were these players when they came to Stoke. They had quiet games you wouldnt know they were on the pitch, and thats why in every post match interview Tony Pulis mentions the fans, he knows what they are worth.

  • Comment number 58.

    I struggle to describe how proud I am of Stoke City this season.

    We've had seven months of articles telling us how to play football and manger's complaining we don't play it the "proper" way. Its like the rest of the footballing world has forgotten where football comes from - an honest, working class sport not sullied by diving prima donnas, corporate entertainment and certainly not an exhibition for neutrals.

    It shows how far football has drifted from being a sport ahead of a TV show when Tony Mowbray is lauded for playing beautiful football whilst WBA are rooted to the foot of the table.

  • Comment number 59.

    Stoke have done exactly what they need to. They are a strong, capable side and since they are lacking the quality to out-play someone like Arsenal at attractive passing football, they are doing it their own way. And credit where it is due, it has worked a treat! They were given no hope at all of staying up this season, and now they have a better chance I think than Newcastle or Boro who both lack the qualities that Stoke do, but also lack the tactical nous of their manager and physical prescence of their players. Newcastle going down will most likely force them pretty close to the edge, but they may come out the other side and I hope they do. My team Leeds are doing it, despite coming dangerously close to folding and shutting the doors for good. We were pretty much saved by owning our own ground and facilities - not sure if Newcastle and Boro bost this too but they will need it if they go down.

    Pulis has done a great job and anyone would be proud to call themselves a Stoke supporter this season - hence the atmosphere.

  • Comment number 60.

    Mr McNulty - brilliant blog, my favourite of the season even if it is for biased reasons. I can't comment on the Vic vs the Brit question as I only went to the Vic once. However, the atmosphere at the Brit hasn't always been like this. As Ronvelig said, Lawro was very wrong to say you won't hear booing at Stoke - in fact, last season some fans STILL abused Pulis. In past years, I have never, ever seen a player get abused by his own fans so brutally as Kyle Lightbourne was at Stoke. All is well at Stoke right now and the passion for the club is being expressed in a positive way, but as soon as that goes wrong you can bet your bottom dollar they won't be afraid to criticise - and with equal intimidation. There have been flashes of this atmosphere in the past, but right now it's every week. The fact is, this unfashionable club with fans that are used to being let down year after year are, amazingly, doing the business in the Premier League. Not so long ago I was watching Stoke struggle against Rotherham and Bristol Rovers (no disrespect) and now they beat teams like Arsenal, Villa and Spurs. 1-0 up at Chelsea until the 88th. You've given Pulis some praise but I still don't think it's enough - if he keeps them anywhere near the position they're in now, I'd love to know just who deserves to be manager of the year more than him. As somebody else said, two miracle in two years - the man has done an unbelievable job which I don't even think Sir Alex could have bettered by much.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm a Stokie abroad. Born in Manchester, lived in Liverpool and finally ended up in Stoke before emigrating. I love football in general, but Stoke's performances have surpassed all expectations. Want to know if you've arrived Stokies??? Here in Thailand, the kids where I teach, all come into football practice full of "Lorly Lelap" throw-ins. Stoke are quietly getting a cult following out here with the kids hoping to see them next season on ESPN Tv.

  • Comment number 62.

    As a fan of the underdog, i hope Stoke and Hull stay up purely for the extra efforts they have had to put in with (on paper) less talented squads.
    I do not want to see Newcastle go down because contrary to a couple of the blogs that have been left, i think a team who can get 50,000 fans when a team is so poor deserve to get some luck. I could say the same for Sunderland but as a Wolves fan, our games with Newcastle have always seemed to be more 'romantic' so it would be nice to travel up to St James Park again next year.
    Good luck to all the teams at the bottom, as far as i can see, the tightness at the bottom is just another advertisement for the mostly fiercly contested League in the World.
    Up the Wolves - one more win to go!!

  • Comment number 63.

    Good blog Phil - really liked it.

    As a Bristol City fan i want to stick on record the fact that Pulis is doing a great job - sadly the walfwit brigade of fans at our place hounded him out before he could get started at Ashton Gate - sighting "boring football" and his "ex-Rovers" connection as reasons to not want him... whilst i like Johnson and think he is doing a good job - Pulis has clearly outperformed us since his departure.

    On the Geordie front ..... i am sure that they can see the irony in taking such pleasure in getting a point against Stoke... even if the Brittania is a tough place to go... could you imagine the laughter you would have generated if 5+ years ago, when the NUFC fans were putting pressure on Sir Bobby Robson for "lack of performance" if you would have suggested that Newcastle would be pleased to get a point at Stoke City.... they weren't even happy with Bobby delivering Chapions League football!

    Anyway - Only 6 more games to go before "i bleed balck and white" Shearer can collect the £2m he so desperately needs and deserves for doing a job that 50,000+ other Geordies would do for free...

  • Comment number 64.

    Poat 27. You claim to have looked at the facts. You haven't. Outside the big four, Fulham have the best home record as we have one more point that you do.

    Post 48. Ha, hilarious. A lot of people have written here not to believe the press. We have a cracking atmosphere at Craven Cottage especially at the Hammersmith End and with Britannia supposedly being a Fortress, what does that make Craven Cottage seeing as we have a better home record?

    Stoke have done well this season and will be the only promoted side to survive as West Brom and Hull will go down. Think they will suffer second season syndrome though as fantastic home records outside the top four are statistically not sustainable over numerous seasons.

  • Comment number 65.

    Great read Phil!

    It's been a fantastic season down The Brit this year, and make no mistake, Mr Pulis is the man to thank for this! When he was re-instated as our manager 2-3 years ago, I for one was distraught! Having watched his previous regime I was all too aware of what type of football he would bring and I for one thought he'd get us relegated back into League 1. How wrong I was (and how glad I am that I was!!). To get us promoted last season was, as others have stated nothing short of a miracle. I don't think anyone in S-o-T thought we would do it. However he did, and here we are! Loving every minute of it, especially when we're winding up some managers (Wenger!) and giving these bunch of pre madonna's in this league a run for their money with our 'aard work (Copyright Tony Pulis) and honesty. As for our fans, well its all been said above, we've been a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stale league, in terms of fan base.

    Now to our players. TP has made some absolutely fantastic signings for us this season. We now have a solid spine to our side with Soro, Abdu Faye and Beattie. Faye is without doubt our player of the season. Why Newcastle sold him, especially for the figure we paid and their current position, is beyond me! He is a rock, who also loves to come forward with ball, his 1st touch is sublime for centre half! Soro has been brilliant as well, how we dodged a bullit in missing out on Scott Carson!! We still need a centre midfield though, even with Whelen coming on leaps and bounds as the season has gone on. Also the signing of Matty Etherington was another master stroke by Pulis. We've been crying out for a proper winger and in Ether's we finally have one, on the cheap as well! Put together his wing play and crosses with James Beattie and goals are guaranteed (as Man Citeh found out)!

    So here's to staying up this season, making a few more fantastic signings, centre mid and full backs would be my priority, then bring on next season!!

    Be Loyal, Be Proud, Be Stoke

  • Comment number 66.


    when the NUFC fans were putting pressure on Sir Bobby Robson for "lack of performance"

    Please tell me what info you base this comment on?

  • Comment number 67.

    I have always been a Michael Owen fan right from the time when he used to play in the club I support i.e. Liverpool. But over the years the player who was being regarded as the next Pele, has undergone a dramatic change (obviously no denying that injuries cost him dearly). He was here playing for Newcastle against a club such as Stoke that day, and he only had 2 chances throughout the game. I seriously dont think that he's even remotely contributing to Magpies. On the other hand the players who are down the packing order like Carroll showed real presence. I would like to draw the example of his childhood mate - Steven Gerrard. Liverpool now face a near-impossible champions league trip to Stamford Bridge and although Steven Gerrard is not fully fit, Benitez would still pick him up in the squad because he's such an inspiration for the rest of the players. I'm sorry but you don't notice these things in Owen. Weeks ago, I was blaming Fabio Capello for not picking up Owen, but after thinking seriously for a while, I have a feeling that maybe he was right. Strikers such as Andy Carroll and James Beattie was very good that day, and while watching the only feeling which came to my mind was that Michael Owen does not deserve Premiership football at all, he's not good for it.

  • Comment number 68.

    After moving to the States around 18 months ago, I have been unable to attand any games at the Brit since our promotion to the Premier League, but have watched with amazement at the transformation of the club I have supported for more than twenty five years. I was brought up watching Stoke at the Victoria Ground and it was the backdrop to some of my most cherished childhood memories. That wonderful old stadium could certainly be an intimidating place for away fans, and the atmosphere and noise generated would certainly, on occaisions, rival that of any other ground I have ever visited. It was a sad day for all concerned when we finally moved to the Britannia, and it seemed the soul had been ripped out of the club. Granted, the move coincided with some hard times but we had been through many of those at the Vic without it having really lost any of it's atmosphere. The Britannia though was different. At the Vic, there could be only 14,000 fans inside and it would still seem like the most wonderful place you could ever watch a game of football, but the new stadium seemed devoid of passion even with 20,000 plus in attandance.Many Stoke fans felt the whole experience of attending a game had changed beyond recognition during that first couple of seasons after the move, and we certainly lost a huge core of support that would have been still there had we still been at the Vic.

    The turning point for me was the Newcastle game last season in the FA cup. I watched the game live on TV over here in the States, and as we were still then a Championship club, it was a rare treat to have a game screened live. As I watched the game unfold, it was impossible to ignore the atmosphere that developed, and as the game wore on I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the feelings of old came flooding back. I was watching my team, my club and my city as I had experienced it in my youth and from that moment on I knew if we could sustain our form in the league and gain promotion, we would be on the cusp of something amazing.

    And so it has turned out. I have seen all but one game in full on TV this season, and although you can never truly experience the atmosphere at a game wtithout actually being there, it is clear that we have something special. It is like watching a throwback to the days of old where every person in that ground feels like they are a part of the experience, not just a viewer. You can see the players visibly lifted by the noise, and in comparison, the opposition shrink into their shell at the sheer passion and ferocity of the fans. I have lost count of the times that my old man has called me from the ground this year, just to say "my god son, you won't recognise this place when you get back home" and I have had a tear in my eye just watching some of the games. Unfortunately due to reasons beyong my control, I can't make it back before the end of this season, but I have no doubt now that I can look forward to my next visit in September and look forward to experiencing a live top flight game involving Stoke for the first time sice I was 10 years old.


  • Comment number 69.

    You wonder about the atmosphere at the Brit, I think the new supporters are in the main the old supporters from the 70's and they remember what a real football atmosphere was like. There's nothing quite like watching a fired up bunch of lads getting in amongst the prima-donnas, and there's nothing more likely to get us wound up than to see them trying to cheat and feign their way through a match. I know actors get paid more than the working man, but that doesn't make them better men. We are sitting down to dine with the guys who have had their snouts in the trough, and now it's our turn so pass us the brown sauce "I conna ate chase an oatckes with ite brine sose"

  • Comment number 70.

    Steady on Stoke (and Stoke fans).

    Quite a lot of us neutrals are impressed by you (especially your support) and think you've done very well. It's good to see you in the PL and hope you stay for a few seasons.

    So don't try and make yourselves into another Millwall!

    All the best.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fortress Britannia? Warehouse Britannia, more like. Empty, no atmosphere and the Stoke fans incessant whooping every time a set piece ocurred for the home teams mean this will be one little fish that will not be missed by the rest of the Premier League mainstays.

    As a neutral I was expecting some sort of entertainment during their recent clash with the Magpies, yet all I got was a new perspective of the most dull, lifeless fans I have ever seen. The even jeered every time either team failed to punt the ball forward like some bizarre form of Gaelic football, yet this is no Ireland, this is the Potteries...

    ...and I for one won't be going back.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm a Stoke City Lady and know the pain of will we/wont me, I dare not hope that we'll stay up as it'd be too painful if we go down. I fancy our chances though!
    Anyway just thought I'd add my view! These blogs are execellent, interesting and informative!
    Stoke just has the spirit, I worked at the stadium shop for 4 years and only left when I really had to. I miss the atmosphere at the ground, the buzz and I think this is what keeps our hopes up. As for TP, alot of people slated the board for bringing him back to the club after his first stint, i think most of these "fans" will be eating their words! Pulis is one of the most honest, underestimated, passionate managers in the PL, he never sits down during a game, and what he has done for Stoke as a Football Club is to be applauded, its not just the players who need to be applauded for this season, its the unsung hero... MR TONY PULIS!

  • Comment number 73.

    I attended the Stoke v Newcastle game and cannot imagine what classes as entertainment or atmosphere to some people. The Stoke fans - jeering aside - rose only for Delap's throw ins (which come to nothing) and for the occasional chorus of Delilah (yes the Tom Jones hit). They will not attract any decent footballers whilst they insist on playing route 1 football and playing to win set pieces and will surely be relegated next season to where there style of football, stadium and chants belong!

  • Comment number 74.

    Re 71: "...and I for one won't be going back."

    typical geordie've still got 6 games to avoid relegation...;-)

  • Comment number 75.

    Re 74: "typical geordie've still got 6 games to avoid relegation...;-)"

    Maybe they mean it the other way round ;)

  • Comment number 76.

    RE: 71: "typical geordie've still got 6 games to avoid relegation...;-)"

    Typical geordie negativity from a neutral? I'm not sure if you read the entire post, blinkered as Stoke fans must be I would have at least expected that!

    For a non-Premiership supporting fan I expect to see a sizeable difference in quality between these games I pay more for and what I get at my local team. With Stoke, I fear, this will never be the case.

  • Comment number 77.

    #71 GrimwaldsBlindEyes

    "Fortress Britannia? Warehouse Britannia, more like. Empty, no atmosphere ... "

    Empty, no atmosphere? What planet do you exist on sunshine? Wind up merchant? Yes, but more to the point - an expose in simple, sad and pitiful envy of a team (SCFC) that WILL stay up because it has spirit and has delivered; compared to a bunch of headless chickens that have been sleep-walking to relegation at SJP all season. Only 4 wins - have a rest in the CCC, you deserve it.


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