The ‘still optimistic’ Chapman Report from Stoke: Messi no match for this

Robert Chapman: 'ever the optimist'
Robert Chapman: ‘ever the optimist’, oddly enough a caption already used this season

Pete Sixmsith once again steps down from the Soapbox to make way for Bob Chapman, whose pre-match pint was taken with a man who’d willingly forked out £30 for Stoke versus Sunderland after baulking at nearly six times more for a Barcelona game a few days earlier. Bob considered it a decent point even if results at Palace and Burnley dumped us in the bottom three …

Stoke City won promotion to the Premier League in 2008, after a 23-year absence. We gained it the year before.

Only last year we were branded the 31st wealthiest club in the world. With a ground almost twice the size of the Britannia Stadium, with an attendance average of over 40,000, why is it that we have been consistently second best to Stoke City since they returned.

They are clearly an established Premier side, with a decent manager and you know they will not struggle next season! When was the last time we could say that?

Stoke away is never one you get excited about. You know you will get battered and probably come away with very little. That, on top of last week’s dismal display made me wonder why I was bothering anyway.

I had arranged to meet my old mate John Marshall off the train at Stoke. He suggested the Glebe for a drink. I have walked past this pub on a number of occasions and always gone elsewhere. A definite mistake on my part as this is a cracking pub. A typical beer drinker’s pub, no frills, friendly clientele, good cheap beer and excellent service.

John had just returned from a short break in Barcelona. He had had a chance to watch Messi and Co for £174 the other night, but declined the offer thinking that Rodwell, O’Shea and other assorted internationals at £30 was the better offer.

A pleasant walk along the Trent and Mersey Canal to the ground, we deliberated as what changes, if any would be made. In light of last week’s debacle it came as no surprise to find Coates in for Vergini. The rest of the side pretty well picked itself in light of the current injuries.

Our customary big turnout. Courtesy of @theawayfans
Our customary big turnout. Courtesy of @theawayfans

With fans still finding their seats, Buckley played in a routine cross, which Bergovic promptly fumbled and Wickham put us one up. One nil up with 89 to go I thought, let’s prepare for an onslaught and three points. Is that currently achievable? Probably not I thought. Stoke duly took control, taking advantage of our 4-4-2 formation and literally lightweight midfield.

Although under a lot of pressure we had a chance to increase our lead when Cattermole played in Defoe only for him to make a poor first touch and then shoot into the side net. Two nil up with 65 minutes to go; that’s achievable I thought. One can dream, but reality hit within seconds, as Charlie Adam inevitably scored their equaliser. Stoke then dominated the rest of the half and the break came with some relief.

Changes came with the start of the second half. Graham was introduced and the system changed to accommodate him as lone striker, with Wickham and Defoe bolstering the midfield. Slowly we began to get a toe hold in the game and it became more even with both sides creating opportunities.

Wickham had a glorious chance, but he took too much time and Shawcross made the tackle to prevent the shot. Soon after Billy Jones came close with a good run and shot which took a slight deflection off Bergovic and just past the post. It was now one of those games that could go each way and fortunately we have a top keeper who made two tremendous saves late on to preserve a well-won point.

No one left early this week and it was a hard won point as John O’Shea will testify. After a dodgy start he settled, played well and took a boot to the face for his effort. He looked like a beaten up boxer as he left the field.

With the Hull and Leicester results this was a crucial point. Advocaat said that six points were needed prior to this game. Despite this result we probably still need six more points. They always say that the table never lies at the end of the season. We may be the division draw experts but if you can’t get seven wins out of 38 games then you don’t deserve to stay up.

Ever the optimist I think we can!


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4 thoughts on “The ‘still optimistic’ Chapman Report from Stoke: Messi no match for this”

  1. Admire your optimism Bob, but the Hull win at Palace was a killer blow for us. I expect us to be given a lesson by Southampton and be virtually down by Saturday tea time – certainly if we play with ten men again (ie.Rodwell makes his way into the starting line up)

  2. I,m with you Rob, we still need another 6 points to be safe…MAYBE!…we have to beat Leicester to stand any chance,but they are playing well,so it will be hard,,,,but Hmmm I think we’ll do it.

  3. Might be wrong but I think we have a better record in the league than Stoke since they were promoted
    Won 6 Lost 4 drawn 4
    But they are certainly a much more professionally run club. Which might have something to do with a competent management structure unlike the dog and pony show that runs our circus. If you note they tend to strenghten they team season on season instead of weakening it, the oppisite of the “Ellis Short and Maragret Byrne model” I guess you’d call it.

  4. For Stokes decent manager in Hughes add another decent manager in Pullis who preceded him . The common myth in these parts is that most SAFC fans would have turned their nose up at Pullis , we weren’t asked . We didnt want Di Canio or Poyet and that’s the problem , bad management , from top to bottom .

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