Why can't all strikers be like Sidibe?
It is common knowledge that top goal scorers are just like big children who need to be cuddled all season long to get the best out of them, but the three that we signed, and believed in, over the past two years have been nothing short of a series of frustrating letdowns.
July 2008, Dave Kitson arrived for £5.5 million from relegated Reading. He became Stoke`s first signing as a Premier League club and to say the least we expected big things from him. However as he failed and failed to net his first goal for the club, his confidence in himself diminished along with Tony Pulis`s trust in him, and he was consequently shipped out on loan as TP set about bringing another man to score those goals.
January 2009, James Beattie completed his £2.5 million signing from Sheffield United and immediately did what Kitson could not, score. Beattie netted 8 times towards the end of the season and in all fairness he played a pivotal role in keeping the club up.
In the Summer of 2009 the club added Tuncay to the books in a £5 million deal and with Kitson back and Beattie on fire the front line, worth a combined £13 million, had goals flowing through their veins, or so we hoped.
Kitson started to score. Beattie stopped and got fat. And Tuncay didn`t play for whatever reason it was at the time. There seems to be a different one each week, even now.
Kitson`s goals dried up as quickly as they came, and Beattie had a fight with the apparently naked Pulis over the crimbo party. Tuncay however started to play and score, occasionally, and the crowd loved him, so long as he didn`t run down the tunnel after being brought off, criticise the manager and disrespect the club. But of course he is from a different culture or that is what the club would say. We are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt
This debacle went on for two years. Beattie and Kitson have gone but Tuncay still remains somewhere in the wilderness. However, there are two men who have been here the whole time. They may not have always found the net, they may not have had us drooling over watching them play but they are dependable, professional and respectful. Ricardo Fuller and Mamady Sidibe.
They, Sidibe in particular, can be the most frustrating players to watch but they have risen with the club and stuck by them even though have not always been playing. They haven`t kicked up a fuss when they were brought off (Tuncay), they haven`t given up when not scoring (Kitson) and they certainly have not questioned the manager`s decision`s to cancel the Christmas Party. (Beattie).
Alright Fuller has been arrested the odd time here and there but it never saw him lose his professionalism at the club, and Mama`s credentials as a Premier League forward have and always will be questioned. Although we are a mid-table Premier League club, or meant to be, I think that the clubs loyalty to players such as these when it would have been so easy to sell them on is commendable and 100% correct. We need players like these.
Fuller is in his 5th season here and Sidibe his 6th which makes them two of the longest serving players we have. When they are told there won`t be starting they don`t kick up a fuss and spit their dummies out.
To stay in this league you need quality strikers and, certainly in Fuller`s case, they have not let us down yet, in-fact he is probably the best striker we have had in this division. The club still continues to bring in big name players and when Tony Pulis says they need to have the same attitude as the others; it is players such as Ric and Mama who he has in mind.
Tuncay, who should take a leaf out of their book, still has a role to play if he can convince Pulis he can because there is no doubt that a Jones-Tuncay partnership is one we would all like to see. Beattie and Kitson have left their mark on the club somewhere along the line but neither will be held in such high regard as the pair, who cost around £400,000 between them. It is a shame they never found their feet but in the end we still have Ric and Mama.
Kitson, Beattie and Tuncay- £13 million.
Fuller and Sidibe- Priceless