Like every other football fan, I look to this day with anticipation and fear in equal measure and this time was no different as Stoke left it until literally the last minute to bag some great deals for the club.
The day started nice and early, I got up around 7 and plopped myself onto the sofa in front of the TV with my mobile and laptop and set about putting various feelers out across the wonder of the Internet. Twitter land was indeed buzzing and between that and the Stoke forums I was set to dedicate my day’s existence to that and that alone bar a shower, beans on toast (which I managed to do in the ad break) and various cups of tea.
The day started out with great promise as word broke of Jermaine Jenas and Eidur Gudjohnsen coming up to Stoke for talks in the afternoon. This elation was soon dampened somewhat as I heard of interest from Fulham for the Ice Man and worse still, Jenas was pictured arriving at training all the way down in Essex.
Various names were banded around throughout the day but Gudjohnsen was the definite one as well as Wilson who was pictured arriving at the Britannia in what looked like his pyjamas all ready to seal a deal. The problem on that latter deal was that Kitson and Lawrence had to go the other way, two potentially big obstacles. As the day went on the lack of news was deafening and then I heard from a Portsmouth Journalist that Lawrence had not turned up for his medical and had gone back to Stoke….cue panic.
In the meantime we were treated to images of Gudjohnsen arriving at the Britannia around 3pm, surely there was no time to talk for half an hour say no then make it to London, surely he was as good as ours? Rumours that we had agreed to pay £2m, yes £2m in wages was being widely reported as an agreement seemed to have been struck between Stoke and Monaco. Not too long later thoughj, my heart sank, there were reports that Eidur’s agent was in some sort of dispute with Monaco about something or other, maybe the much maligned loyalty bonus, and the move was in jeopardy…
Twitter and other media outlets were frantic, there was talk of a bid being made for N’Zogbia but it would depend on Gudjohnsen signing as it would mean Tuncay would go the other way, time was ticking away… Then news started to filter through around 5 of deals for Pennant and Kovac, the former confirmed by news reporters at the ground.
The clock seemed to speed up, still no word of Wilson, still no word of Eidur and still no signings, sorry, just the one signing (apologies Salif) I was then hit by a wave of acceptance, we were in the final 45 minutes, no-one would be able to comment, no-one would know what was happening so I waited, I continued to tweet (up to about 200 odd by now) and the tension from Stokies across the globe could be cut with a (very large) knife.
Big Ben chimes…..no signings, apart from Salif, had been announced – though I was quietly confident. I knew that something would come through and sure enough at around 5 past 6 we got the news that Stoke City had completed the signings of Wilson, Gudjohnsen and Pennant. Wilson was a permanent deal whilst Gudjohnsen and Pennant were on loan (1 year and 6 months respectively) though we later learnt that Eidur was in fact a permanent signing on a 1 year contract!!!!
The deals were faxed through to the FA at 17.59…
So having had a few beers and a good night’s sleep I’m hopefully in a better state to reflect on our latest signings...
Uninspiring as I said, but positive in the sense that his deal was dependant on his acting in an Ambassadorial role for the Club in France and Africa where he has a number of contacts. In fact in Africa, Diao also has one or two football academies, so this was a very sensible deal and has hopefully established a bit more of a formal link into these.
Marc has long been mooted as a target and despite bids from West Ham and West Brom he decided on Stoke with Kitson and Lawrence going the other way. The Pompey journalist I mentioned likens Wilson to Carrick and is genuinely upset at losing him, he says that he has an amazing range of passing and is a real dictator in the middle of the park in front of the back four. Could this role be written any more perfectly for him?
The bonus of this deal was that we got rid of some players off the wage bill, in particular the trouble that was Kitson. Kitson has long been a disruptive influence and since his petulant outburst at being substituted last season has trained with the youth team, his signing was a bad one, but he has gone now. Lawrence on the other hand never replicated his Championship form and having fallen out of favour and virtually begged for a move to Celtic, he was always going to struggle to get back into the Manager’s plans. I’m not sure exactly what happened but things changed for Liam when he ‘tripped over his dog’, that said Liam has been a magnificent servant for the club and despite ‘dog gate’ I wish him all the best, he has given me many, many memories that I will never forget.
Jermaine has been a player I have liked for a while. Pulis managed to get his ‘Mama with goals’ when he bought KJ but in getting Pennant in we managed to get the other fabled signing of the ‘right sided Etherington’.
The 'right sided Etherington'…
I feel the ex Liverpool player will fill this role perfectly and I’m hoping that despite his previous off the field indiscretions he will flourish under Pulis like many before him. This deal is only until January, I for one hope he plays out of his skin to earn a permanent move and we wrap it all up before the window even opens.
I saved the best until last.. I’ve long since admired Gudjohnsen (we’ll call him EG from here to stop me slowing to a snails pace to type his name) and remember him being one of the best players in Chelsea’s recent revival. He has played under a similar system to ours at Bolton as well as taking in spells at Chelsea, Barcelona, Monaco and Spurs. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have just signed a player who won the Champions League less than two years ago, who has two Championship medals and countless other accolades. I was telling a friend about him who in true friend style was trying to find something wrong with him. I told him that he can play midfield, he quipped that it must be because his legs had gone, I let him know that he did so because he struggled to take the place of Henry and Messi up front for Barcelona..silence. The man is class and I’ll be interested to see where exactly he is played, he is no target man but that’s his role and Pulis would never play him in the middle even though he kept Keita out of the Barca side doing so.
Beats the Autoglass Trophy…
This has been an excellent window for Stoke City, granted we could have got a fullback or two in but the signings we made coupled with the fact we managed to hang onto the likes of Shawcross, Tuncay and Begovic clearly illustrates just how far we have come and this Stokie certainly made a conscious effort to pinch himself to see if it really was happening.
Now, as I come back down to Earth I notice we have 0 points on the board but I’m sure Pulis will feel a lot better facing Villa being able to pick a front line from Fuller, Tuncay, Jones and Gudjohnsen with Etherington and Pennant providing ammunition from the flanks……..I’ve gone again - *pinch*
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