All too easy...
As we come to the end of the campaign there are various statistical tables flying around and they make awful, awful reading for Stoke fans. Of course one can’t fail to ignore the fact we retained our Premier League status but is staying up each season really enough? Of course it’s a results business and you could argue the only stat that matters is the league table but I don’t think it’s unfair to expect a little more from a manager that has spent a hell of a lot of his generous chairman’s money.
So here are some of those statistics;
We have scored the least number of goals in the entire football league
We have the lowest possession in the League
We have the lowest number of shots/shots on target in the League
We have the least number of successful passes in the League
We have scored TWELVE goals from open play ALL season
These statistics are absolutely staggering and after Saturday’s match I decided I was past trying to find positives because apart from staying up, there simply aren’t any. Regular readers will know that I have looked at various aspects of our approach and team selections and it’s the same negative patterns repeating over and over again, nothing changes. Can any Stoke fan, hand on heart, say that they went to Newcastle expecting anything other than a loss, especially when the first goal went in? That pessimism wasn’t because Newcastle were flying high, obviously that was part of it but it was mainly because we have come to expect complete and utter surrender before a ball is kicked 90% of the time and Saturday was no different.
I’ll cover the club/manager’s main failings in my end of season piece but will look at one of them in detail now, Jon Walters;
Walters arrived to little fanfare last season but in a team showing a bit more adventure with, god forbid, two wingers and a bit of pace up top, managed to defy his many critics and hit a purple patch of form he has struggled to recreate since. In fact his presence in the team has come under intense scrutiny this season as his goalscoring record is one that would shame Mamady Sidibe. We’ve almost come to believe Pulis’ mantra that we need a non goalscoring attacker to help out with the defence, our position of 15th coupled with the statistics above would suggest that he would be better served up top alongside Crouch given that he already has 9 other players behind him to do that job, seven of whom rarely get past the halfway line. That said, if the manager were to rethink his philosophy and allow 2 strikers up front, Walters would not be anywhere near the potential suitors.
Not so super...
I’ve said before how I feel sorry for Jerome and Jones, we miss their pace terribly yet Walters has started every single league game this season, and this despite having a return of only three goals when you take away his other two which were penalties. In fact his last goal from open play in the league was nearly SIX MONTHS ago – it beggars belief. Yet in the team he stays, seemingly so crucial to the system that sees us bottom of almost every statistical table under the sun with the manager publically supporting him and praising his commitment – ‘That’s why I pick him every week’ he says, when you look at that ridiculous statement coupled with all of the above, I just don’t know where to start with that one.
Pulis is said to be a huge believer in stats so I’d like to think these things won’t go unnoticed but this is nothing new, our poor play hasn’t happened overnight, it’s been like that all season, in fact it is worse than last season despite spending over £20m in the Summer and that can’t be ignored, it hasn’t been by the fans and one can only hope the Coates family take note too.
Vis Unita Fortior