Tony Pulis today brought an end to a surprisingly long chase by finally signing Ipswich's (former) captain Jon Walters.
Pulis concluded another chase of mountie proportions by adding Walters to the Stoke City squad. The manager has long admired the striker cum winger and this signing at a not exactly cheap £2.75m plus add ons has been met with little enthusiasm amongst the Potters faithful.
Ever since 'dog gate' Liam Lawrence has seemingly fallen out of favour with Pulis and therefore the right hand side of midfield has been up for grabs. Several failed attempts at shoe horning Whitehead and more frustratingly, Delap there have been met with significant criticism and this signing isn't quite the solution many had hoped for.
Most of us know and often grudgingly accept the 4 centre backs and two defensive midfielders occupying 'the cage' but we've also always known that Pulis likes his hard working wide men to work the flanks as much defensively as they do going forward. Etherington was a revelation in this respect and ever since his arrival we have longed for a right sided version of the left winger. We've been linked with many players in that position over the last few months, the likes of Pennant, Bentley and Weiss have all been mentioned but it looks like it is Walters that the gaffer has plumped for, but I'm not so sure it's that simple.
I think Pulis had made a decision to sell Lawrence, and with a move to Celtic all but done had planned for life without him by bringing in Walters, I believe, as an understudy to a new, more high profile wide man. It now seems that Lawrence may well be staying despite him begging Celtic to come and get him and this leaves us with a bit of a problem. It's my opinion now that we have 2 'understudies' to the right midfield slot and unless Lawrence goes it is likely we will see Walters starting games as first choice on that side.
That's not to say the former Ipswich skipper can be written off, far from it. Much like Lawrence, he had a great season back in 2008 where he scored a high number of goals and won the player of the year award (sounds familiar) He seems to have a bit more pace than Lawrence, some might cruelly suggest that's not hard to do, and also has the work ethic that Pulis routinely craves from his wide men. These attributes coupled with the goalscoring touch of a natural forward could see this signing as somewhat of an astute one - or it could be another Cresswell...
All joking aside I welcome the addition of our new man, I fully expect him to start against Spurs as even Pulis wouldn't hang Rory out to dry so soon after his abject wide performance at Wolves. There could even be more new faces in time for the Spurs game with one or two rumoured to be close to signing, but we'll have to wait and see. One thing is for sure, the season is back and we're at home on Saturday and I for one can't wait to hear the Boothen roar...
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