Date:Tuesday September 12 2006
So we`re 7 games into Tony Pulis` second reign, maybe not enough to make a concrete judgement but enough for some impatient Stoke fans to be calling for his head already.
Some argue this isn`t the 7th game of Tony Pulis` management at Stoke, true, but he lost a whole season last year as the continuity was knocked out of his management following Johan Boskamp`s arrival and then departure.
It could be argued Tony Pulis achieved his goals before being reinstated as Potters boss. When he arrived, the aim was to stay up. We did. The next season, we needed to consolidate. We did. The season after, he needed backing. He wasn`t and our exciting signing of pre-season was a keeper, Steve Simonsen (a bloody good one mind!). He still achieved a mid-table placing ahead of the likes of Leicester, Leeds and Coventry, all heavy spenders. He did this on one of the lowest wage budgets in the division, something proved by Deloitte and Touche.
We all know the football wasn`t Brazilian style, but we were, and still are (5 games unbeaten as I write) tough to beat. People see Stoke as a tough fixture under Pulis.
The majority of fans don`t feel like I do though, and here with have the problem.
On Saturday against Barnsley we raced out of the blocks into a two goal lead. We then, for whatever reason, sat back and succumbed our lead to let Barnsley into the game. Something to feel disappointed about of course, but not a reflection of the sheer vitriolic, nasty hatred shown towards our manager at the end of the game. We didn`t lose the game. We haven`t lost since the opening day of the season in the league, in fact. Yeah, let`s berate the manager and forget about a bit of stability which he could offer us hey?!
It was only three games ago people were praising our display against Birmingham, citing the lads as "magnificent" and really being positive about things. We`d just outplayed the favourites, the multi-million pound guys of the division. Three games later and the ant-Pulis brigade are back in force, despite not one solitary league defeat since the "positive days" of Derby and Birmingham. Fickle can`t sum it up. The players are becoming visibly frustrated at the lack of support shown towards the team and the manager. Steve Simonsen epitomised this on Saturday when he shouted something in the direction of The Potters faithful (who incidentally, had been chanting "Tony Pulis` Barmy Army" when we were two goals up).
We all know points are being scored in both directions. When Pulis does something good, the pro-Pulis supporters take aim. Vice versa when we lose. The two camps are splitting the club in two and it`s done no good for the "feel good factor" which we haven`t seen at the club since the Derby victory.
I`m not all rose tinted glasses when it comes to TP though. He should have sorted out our central midfield problem by now. We`ve struggled along with Darel "we're in red and white for f**ks sake" Russell and Dave "pass it forward PLEASE" Brammer. The lack of work rate pushes them through in a way, but they aren`t good enough and need replacing. Hopefully with Eustace on the right path now, he`ll be involved soon. But we can`t rely on that one can we?! It`s something TP needs to sort out.
Pulis is our manager and generally he`s been good for Stoke City. We know he has his faults, but who doesn`t? Finally we have a manager who loves the club and relishes the challenge.
We need unity and people need to back Tony Pulis.
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