Not often do I feel sorry for fans of opposing football teams. Like most, I have an irrational dislike of all things non black and white. Especially if the team these devotee’s support are donning the red and white striped garb. I am not in reference to the great and deluded rabble enduring the never ending thrill a minute “Party with Marty”, good Lord no. In fact, I can’t quite believe I am going to say this, but I feel sorry for the Stoke fans.
I have not had much time for the Stokites down the years either. I guess what I am trying to say in a rather convoluted way is that should our beloved black and whites line up and play football in a Stoke stylee I would hate my life. We have been there with our very own brand of Grid Iron under Fat Sam, but Tony Pulis and his tactics make our former hump and lump’a seem like the ultimate football purist. The Pardew haters will point to his long ball antics at times, but surely there is no comparison?
Am I over the top in describing Stoke manager Pulis as a footballing Anti-Christ? Never mind “Delilah” ringing around the Britannia , the theme from “The Omen” should ring around. Look under his cap and undoubtedly you will find the mark of the beast. Come to think of it, how often have you ever seen him with his cap off?
The Stoke team is packed with Giants, to be fair to them some are good players. If there was to be a fire sale, players like Shawcross, Begovic, N’zonzi, Walters, Shotton and Crouch would find homes (Probably QPR!). But when your tactics have been gleaned from the Centurions handbook of 1st Century battle formations, the results are bloody awful.
The tactic of firing diagonal balls to giant strikers pushed into wide roles, to nod on whilst the rest of the team stay ensconsed in the safety of their own half preventing quick counter attacks. Invariably they will win the first header against the dwarfed full backs, from a standing position in Crouchy’s case, but the amount of times this creates danger from open play is minimal. One dimensional and as a spectacle ghastly. The worst thing is, Pulis’s Stoke are held up as a blueprint for clubs coming up from the Championship. God help us all!
The defenders seemingly are under instructions not to come over the half way line, unless there is a set piece – at which point they over load the box. Yeah great, they don’t concede many goals. But nor do they score many. The strangulation and stifling that they put the game under is painful to watch.
Sunday was no different. I lost count of the amount of times I heard people say that Stoke were a “Horrible team”. Worse still that this mob have been floating above us in the league, bobbing gently in the Mid-Table mediocrity pool. Shows how poor we have been first half of the season really.
The crowd were becoming exasperated that we were drawing a blank against these Neanderthals, made worse by conceding a bloody stupid penalty. The last thing we wanted to give them was a sniff of a lead to hang onto.
The new never say die attitude came through, and United forced their way to victory. Cabayes free kick and celebration will live long in the memory. Not to mention Stevie Taylors antics with Begovic! Great credit must go to the lads, coming from a goal behind for the third game in a row at SJP. Another last minute winner to savour (though I spent my time glaring at the linesman waiting for his flag! Well it was Papiss!) Hopefully the feel-good factor can give us the boost we need for Thursday against Macka-packa-chocca-blocka.
Pulis is now coming under pressure, could he get the axe? I for one would shed no tears if we were never to face a Pulis XI again. Would anybody else miss that fixture? Answers on a Post card.
Top ten finish and Amsterdam here we come. COME ON UNITED – HTL.