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Posted by James Whittaker on 05/16/2012

In a month that saw the news of our long time kit lady Winnie leaving, it was Ricardo Fuller who was hung out to dry as Pulis poked his finger in the eyes of the fans who dared to suggest he should be starting over the ever inept Walters.

Farewell... © Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

We all know what Pulis is like, we know how he treats crowd favourites he doesn’t play over lesser talented triers, it’s happened before, he either leaves them to rot week after week or we get to the point where he can’t possibly do that anymore (as he did with Jerome after his recent goal scoring exploits) In this case though, it was Fuller, the player who has almost single handedly carried Pulis’ system for the past 6/7 years, a player the entire crowd call for on an almost weekly basis as Pulis is mesmerised and blinded in equal measure by Walter’s OPTA stats. What he did with both of these players this season was play them in a position where he knew they would struggle to make an impact to make sure we know who is in charge. Some people might call me paranoid but let me try to explain my thoughts.

Pulis knows Fuller better than anyone, he has stood up for him on countless occasions, perhaps where he shouldn’t have done at times too, so he knows what the player is and isn’t capable of. He has stuck up for his languid and apparent laboured style to those who can’t appreciate the player’s method of conserving his energy out of possession to suddenly fire into life in the right places. He of all people knows more than anyone that Fuller would struggle on the wing yet that is exactly where he put him, after all he couldn’t possibly put him up front where he could embarrass the ‘efforts’ of Jon Walters in front of goal and make the manager look stupid? In fact, he nearly did exactly that as Ric turned Boyata inside out early on before having his shot tipped around the post.

I was screaming out for Pulis to move Walters wide (if he HAS to play) to a position he has played in for years, but he resisted and kept the static Walters up top with the attacking threat of Fuller chasing the winger back into the fullback position as Huth (another out of position) went narrow on the back foot. It was therefore hardly surprising that Ric looked knackered after too long, what with the manager giving him a handful of showings all season (his last 4 from the left wing I believe). By the second half Pulis had made his point and hooked Fuller to bring on Jerome, seconds later Walters moved to the wing to allow Jerome to play up front in a move akin to sticking two fingers up to the crowd, it worked, people were incensed though ensured that Ric got the ovation he truly deserves.

It’s almost certain that he’ll be on his way now and he’ll be remembered by me as the most exciting player I have ever seen at Stoke and as much as I’d love him to stay, it is simply scandalous to see the manager desecrate his memory having him sat on the bench or hung out to dry on the wing to accommodate his obsession of Walters and fear of ability – and that’s no way to treat a legend.

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Posted by Bill Minshall on 05/16/2012

I am truly fed up with the Pulis knockers. Ok he has his faults . I love Ric as does Pulis. I think he made an eror of judgement by playing from the start. He has obviousley lost that burst of pace and we were playing with 10 men.It was because he rates him that he started with him. As for Jerome he is great coming on but has not exactly set the world alight when he has started. At Birmingham he scored 1 goal in 6 months. He has scored 8 with Stoke the way we have played him. Never mind there is next season.

JW - He was knackered because he was playing a role he is not suited to!!

Posted by Jolly Potter on 05/16/2012

JW - I take it you feel that the game itself was noty worthy of any comment as it smacked of the 'same old garbage' we haev been seeing from Pulis. What would you like to see going forward as we seem to have dodged for the time being the Relegation Bullet that seems destined to be aimed at us if we continue on this Path to Destruction. Aside from Pulis being ousted from teh helm of this ship whom would you think is the kind of personality we need to both maximise the strengths of the Team and the Club but at the same time offering a vast difference in vision as to the type of football we play - hopefully a style offering both the ability to compete with ALL clubs in the Prem without being reckless enough to sacrifice the very best qualities of defence (Huth, Shawcross, Begovic ) and the need to entertain the most loyal fans in the land.

JW - I'm not sure I have any magic solutions, I'm not sure what II'm asking for is 'the moon on a stick' either. Pulis needs to change big time and whether it's a new No.2 or Coates having a quiet word, who knows...

Posted by Liam on 05/16/2012

This is a great article it tells it how it is. Fuller is a Stoke legend. Hope pulls reads this and regrets his treatment of the best player I've seen down Stoke good luck riccy you will never be forgotten in these parts.

JW - Absolutely

Posted by Welshie on 05/16/2012

Bang on the money again James a sad way for a midern geeat to bow out.I'm of a mind he should have gone two years ago though,legend that he is he's done precious little in that time.Ric was as you say Tonys golden boy at one stage,and if the stories are to be believed was a bit on an enforcer in the dressing room for the boss.
Tone has his favourites always has in most cases to the detriment of our team,Mama being a prime example.His ostresisation of Tunny was tantermount to cruelty,but I always thought the talanted Turk was an unwanted gift off Santa Coates...and his subsequent trip to the doctors for wood extraction was Pulis proveing a point to Coatsey.
Anyway Ric has truely been a star for us and I hope he gets a team worthy of him and his talent ...Goodbye Ricky Fuller BD

Posted by Michael Triggs on 05/16/2012

I agree with you that Ric is an absolute legend for stoke, but the obsession that Walters is hampering the team is so far from the truth. He is more than often the player that finds himself playing on the wing (or even in centre midfield!) and tracking back week after week only to be the one who makes the runs off Peter Crouch going forward. What other player in the team makes runs in behind? Rarely do you see Ethrington, pennant, Whelan or Whitehead make any sort of run.
Also let's not forget he was 3 goals behind Peter Crouch for the season and yes I do know he's played more games but the majority of those he is on the right or left. I have never heard him moan once about being played out of position and the ground he covers per game is nothing short of phenomenal.
We need to stop getting on this players back and start realising what he actually does for the team.

JW - He's a striker though Mike, there are at least 7 players behind him who never cross the halfway line and on more than one occasion he has given away costly fouls. It's a two part issue, he's not good enough and TP is making him cover the whole pitch, distance run stats don't win you games.

Posted by Kaeon on 05/17/2012

Well Said!!!

Posted by Craig Street on 05/17/2012

Agree with a lot of what you are saying but as much as John Walters has looked out of form and confidence you could never say he is "static".
Still covers more ground than anyone on the pitch, look at the stats! ;-)

JW - Haha, he goes static when he receives the ball in the final third for the most part ;D

Posted by Zam on 05/20/2012

Hi James,

Tony Pulis has gotten his way because the club has "survived" and "flourished" under him. The only way to see the back of Pulis if Stoke is occupying the relegation positions comes October/November. I know it sounds selfish but as long as Stoke survives in the Premier League, things will not change - we don't sign players until the last minute of transfer days and then keep them on the bench or pla them out of positions. I am getting disillusioned with Pulis methods. I didn't feel this bad even when Stoke is in the old Third Division.

JW - Thats the weird thing Zam, I have never felt this disillusioned in the lower leagues as despite us losing we were doing the basics well enough, having players in the right positions and having a bloody good go! Is that too much to ask for?!

Posted by Dylan on 06/16/2012

Stoke should play in a 4-3-3 Formation and have Matty on the left Jerome in the center and Pennant on the right.

Fuller is an absoulute legend. Stoke need to buy a pacey forward(Jerome is pretty fast but not that fast) such as Hoilett from The venkys(Blackburn).

JW - Jerome is the fastest player I have ever seen at Stoke! It's the fact his second touch is often a tackle that is the problem though :)

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James Whittaker James Whittaker is a football writer and ardent Stoke fan. Having moved to Leeds as a youngster his father refused to take him to his local Championship winning side and instead insisted he chose the Third Division team of his forefathers, Stoke City. Since then there has been no looking back and having been brought up on a diet of Dave Rowson, Kyle Lightbourne and John Gayle, is now embracing the dizzy heights of the top flight for the first time in his life. Fiercely loyal, though always welcoming sensible chat and debate, you can find him on Twitter @ESPN_Stoke

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