Writer: Ryan Kalisz
Date:Friday May 13 2011
This is a follow on from "An interview with a Vital Stoke fan". So now it`s Scott`s turn to ask me some questions and this is how it went:
SCOTT TRAFFORD: Now we have qualified for Europe, how do you think we will cope with the extra football if we reach the group stages?
RYAN KALISZ: Obviously the extra games piled on top of our regular fixtures will be a bit of a shock to the system, and it will test the physical fitness and stamina of our players. However, I think the novelty of playing in Europe will be the right motivation for both mental strength and physical strength.
That`s from a player`s perspective, but from a fan`s perspective; one quote I have heard recently, and indeed on a number of occasions in the past, was: 'they get paid enough so there`s no reason why they can`t do it`. I won`t get into the nitty gritty political aspects of the modern footballers` wages (mainly because I can`t be bothered), but what I will say is; it`s so easy for people to say that.
Yes there has always been the argument that footballers earn too much money blah blah blah, but whatever amount of money you receive doesn`t necessarily mean that you can suddenly become football`s answer to Usain Bolt and belt round the pitch with not even a sweat on your forehead! Physical fitness takes hard work, dedication and most importantly, time. Some individuals are quicker than others to get to their prime fitness level, and some may never fully get there because of underlining problems. Money has nothing to do with it, which then leads me to 'why should they get that much then` but I`ll let someone else argue that while I`ll refocus myself and stop wavering off topic.
In a nutshell, I think that it`ll knock us a little at first but hopefully we`ll get used to it (assuming that we do well in Europe).
ST: How do you think TP should reshape the squad in the summer?
RK: Well Tony has now past his three-year plan to become an established Premier League club, so there could be two ways of continuing on; either carry on investing wisely and not hastily spending money for the sake of it, or try a new approach and splash the cash on some a-listers. I personally think that we should carry on as we have been doing. It`s not a case of having a lack of venture, it`s just purely and simply that 'if it ain`t broke don`t fix it`.
Both Pulis and Coates have credible business acumen, which is why the club is run exactly like a business and it has worked tremendously. Last year we were the only club in the Premier League to make a profit, and that`s because we haven`t overspent on wishy-washy players who have big names. We`ve drafted in quality players that have either been cast aside or unsung, and we have got the most out of them. That is what Pulis is good at and I expect him to continue that.
Steady and gradual improvement is the best option for me as it doesn`t unsettle the good moral in the dressing room, and doesn`t put such intense pressure on big money signings to perform. Plus, its less risk to the club.
ST: Who do you think will be leaving in the summer?
RK: I`m sad to say that the Great Dane may leave. Sorensen has lost out on the number one spot in-between the sticks, and so there have been a number of rumors flying round about him leaving. Perhaps he`ll want to seriously consider any offers for him, but whether Pulis will let him go so easily is another matter. He has been a quality 'keeper for us and will be sadly missed if he goes.
Depending on whether we get any replacements for them, I`d say either Tom Soares or Michael Tonge too. They haven`t made the biggest impact while they`ve been at the Britannia Stadium and may wish to have more regular football too. Going out on a limb, I haven`t seen anything from them that doesn`t make me think of them anymore than Championship players, so I wouldn`t be too disappointed about their departures. I don`t like saying that about players because I always like to give them a fair shout, but I don`t think I can say much else about them.
ST: If you could sign any 3 players for Stoke this summer who would they be?
RK: Would this be on a unlimited budget?? I`m guessing not because then I`d say stupid answers like Javier Hernandez, Lionel Messi, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
No in all seriousness; I would firstly pick Scott Parker. He has been sensational for West Ham this season, and has shown true grit and passion that would certainly be welcomed at the Britannia Stadium. Yes he`s 30 years old, and I do harp on about investing in more youthful players, however if West Ham were unsuccessful to beat the drop, the potential is definitely there for a big summer bargain.
Another player on my radar would be Charles N`Zogbia. He is at a prime age and is certainly in his prime as far as pace down the wings is concerned. He would be great cover for Etherington or Pennant as he can play on either wing, but he can also slip into the centre and even cover at left back. The guy can multirole and I think that would be a useful asset for Pulis, especially as he is still at an influential age where he can be molded further.
Finally I`ll go for
ST: We are always hearing about scouting abroad in Africa and Europe but we never seem to buy any players from abroad. What are your thoughts on this?
RK: Tony isn`t too keen on venturing in the foreign market. He wants players who have experience of playing in England. Leaving your home country to play for a foreign team can be quite daunting and stressful for players, which can mean a major dip in form. All sorts of things such as homesickness, reactions to the different climate, and language barrier can contribute to knocking a player`s confidence and even their willingness to play. I think Tony wants to save himself the hassle of negotiating around these kinds of factors, so that he can get straight down to business and mold the player into his regimes and tactics. After all, it costs money to draft in a temporary interpreter and language teacher, and perhaps even a sports councilor! Obviously if there is a particular player that would bring a new aspect to the team and would become a valuable asset then Pulis would buy without a doubt, but I think he`d rather avoid it.
I`m not particularly fussed by this. I am a firm believer of investing in English players, especially when it comes to youth. The future of the England squad relies on what managers can do for the youngsters now, and if they are given the encouragements and the opportunities, then they will strive to be the best. They will grow and learn to be top notch players and that is what our national team needs; fresh names with fresh quality.
ST: Back to Europe again; which team would you most like to see at the Brit and why?
RK: I suppose I`ll go for the not so exotic Celtic team from our neighbors in Scotland. I mean there`s no real favorite or most anticipated team in all honesty, but I would like to see the cream of Scottish football, mainly to see whether the myth of having a weaker league in comparison with the Premier League is actually true.
You hear of top quality Scottish Premiership players making the move down south and failing to match the quality of the English Leagues. Take Kris Boyd for example; he made 143 appearances for Rangers, scoring 101 goals in total, which is a fantastic record. When he went to Middleborough however, he couldn`t replicate that in the Championship (27 appearances and 6 goals). He`s now currently on loan to Nottingham Forest. Obviously there`s all sorts of other factors that could affect a player`s performance for a particular club, but there seems to be a theme with Scottish players.
ST: Finally, stick your neck out for the cup final, what will be the score?
RK: You`ve nicked that off me!! I reckon it`ll be a close and nail biting fixture for us. The phrase 'squeaky bum time` won`t even describe my on edge fidgeting; perhaps friction burn would be better suited? However having said that, there`s something inside of me that is quietly confident we can do it. If we can keep our heads, keep our cool, and go out onto that pitch fired up with determination and passion like we were against Bolton, I`d say a 2-1 victory for us Potters. Where`s Paul the Octopus when you need him?
ST: Thanks Ryan, heres to Saturday come on the mighty Potters!
RK: Well once again, thank you for entering our competition and I hope we`ll be coming from London away with tears… of joyous celebrations!
Date:Friday May 13 2011
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Wilkinson handed contract until end of the year (Thursday July 30 2015)
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Stoke lose to Brentford as they travel to Evian (Saturday July 25 2015)
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