Writer: Chris Baldwin
Date:Sunday March 6 2011
Saturday 5th March 2011
Stoke succumbed in dismal fashion to their 6th consecutive defeat on the road at West Ham and to rub salt into the wounds, the Potters' nearly man, Demba Ba scored his fifth goal in his first four games for the Hammers.
The warning signs were there after we scraped a draw against the Baggies last Monday night. Asmir Begovic quite literally saved our blushes at the Brit and so it was ironic that it was a mix-up between him and Marc Wilson that gifted Ba's goal after 22 minutes. De Costa made it two a few minutes later as Stoke, not for the first time this season, went into a first half meltdown.
Tony Pulis managed to steady the ship in the second half, but the damage was done by then and swapping out Jermaine Pennant for Matty Etherington and bringing on Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones brought a few chances for the Potters but, in all truth, they never looked likely to get back into the game. The Hammers made sure of the points with just a few minutes remaining when Hitzlsperger fired the ball so hard into the roof of the net that came out nearly as fast as it had gone in.
So where do we go from here?
We're now definitely in the relegation battle along with at least eight other teams and we sit just four points off the bottom three. At the moment, we seem devoid of any ideas and our strikers (in particular Jones) appear to have already clocked off for the season - epitomised by the fact that a defender is vying to be the Potters' top scorer.
It's very easy to blame the manager for this situation as we all know his Plan A and so does everyone else in the Premier League. Plan Bs have never appeared to be on Pulis's agenda even when we were in the Championship. In those days we did at least have the ability to spend some money to bring in a play maker on an emergency loan, but with this option not available he has little scope to change the team. Changing the manager is an option, but a drastic option, as I'd have thought that this would condemn us to certain relegation with no certainty that we'd be able to get in the right person to replace him who could drive us back up the table.
So for now we mustn't panic and hold the faith. All is not yet lost as there are so many other clubs in a similar position and we're actually still six places clear of the dreaded trap door.
Next up is a winnable game against Newcastle at the Brit in two weeks time and let's not forget that we have the distraction of the FA Cup quarter finals next weekend to look forward - now just remind me who we're playing...?
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Date:Sunday March 6 2011
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