Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Monday February 22 2010
Believe me, there were few people more ecstatic then I was when Salif Diao popped up in the last minute to score the winner against Portsmouth last Saturday. It was a game that perhaps we were tipped to win and when we went down to ten men it didn`t look good. At the end though, the Senegalese international drove the ball in from a yard to win the game and everything is again blossoming in Tony Pulis and Stoke`s garden.
However, surely this one single great moment doesn`t make up for games and games of utter rubbish. Sal has always been a 'day to day` player, one day he is the destructive, domineering figurehead of the Stoke midfield but on most others he is the slow, ambling liability that TP trusts in-which he sees as one of the more important positions in the team.
I am not questioning Pulis`s judgement at all, after everything the guy has done for the club, no-one has that right. I can even see why he perseveres with Diao, after all he did once play regularly for Liverpool, albeit out of position and as soon as both Xabi Alonso and Momo Sissoko arrived he was quickly forgotten about.
Last season he was often dreadful and consistently out performed by Amdy Faye and Seyi Olofinjana. It looked for the entire world that we had seen the last of him and he would be off to sunny Italy in the summer. However, Pulis managed to persuade him to stay and sign a new contract.
Injuries and lack of fitness were apparently to blame for his dismal season last year and in preparation for this season he became injured again and missed the first two months. His return to action at Goodison Park was nothing short of class and it looked as if the Salif Diao from the 2002 World Cup had finally made it back.
Since then, the unpredictable, tired looking, slow, liability of a player has returned and good performances have been few and far between. The most infuriating thing about him is that when he plays well, Stoke play well but he doesn`t play well often enough.
I`m happy that Stoke won at Portsmouth and I`m happy that Diao finally scored a goal in the red and white. But am I happy that it is very likely that he will start if not definitely be involved against Man City on Wednesday and Arsenal on Saturday?
Date:Monday February 22 2010
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