Soapbox at Stoke: Pulis enraged, fails to engage brain

Another gem from Jake

Pete Sixsmith slogged back from Stoke, happiness at the well-won points a little offset by the rigours of seven hours on the road to get home. He reckons it was just after midnight, his text suggested just before; either way, it was beyond the call of duty or even love and his exemplary matchday assessment – a posting that would normally be held until Monday – deserves to go up immediately …

It was just past midnight when I trudged up the back street and through the snow covered yard to find Samson the Cat sat in the kitchen with a bib round his neck and a knife and fork in his paws, demanding to be fed. I realised I had missed MOTD and was too tired to rewind it to look at that tackle.

So off to bed I went, to sleep the sleep of the just, knowing we had thoroughly deserved our win and that I was a hero for sitting on a warm coach with a radio, MP3 player and book about Dr W G Grace’s 50th birthday match at Lords. It’s a hard life – although I did run out of apples.

See also: Did Meyler dive? Is Huth a saintly Stoke figure? Is Pulis serious?

It was an awful day for football. When we arrived at the Britannia, the snow was falling and it looked like we were in Ukraine or some industrial city in Russia. On the pitch, the ground staff were utilising modern technology in clearing the white stuff – a couple of bright red plastic shovels from the local branch of Homebase (there are other DIY stores).

The game was in doubt, partly for safety reasons regarding spectators, but Martin Atkinson and the local police commander decided to let it go ahead, saving 1he 1500 hardy souls who had travelled a wasted journey.

We have not done well at Stoke in recent years. Michael Bridges rolled one over the line in 2004 for our only win at the Britannia and since then we have lost on every visit, including last year, when we allowed the home side to walk all over us as we surrendered to their aerial bombardment.

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Same place, new manager and different players and we showed a much more professional attitude to this game and deservedly won it.

We look so organised at the moment and are set up not to concede. Since the arrival of MON, we have kept five clean sheets out of the last eight games, mainly due to dogged and determined defending. As Brown and Bramble have succumbed to injuries, it has left O’Shea and Turner to hold the fort in the middle and they did it brilliantly yesterday.

They are a good combination, one brought up in a footballing culture at Old Trafford which discourages rash challenges and the other in the muck and nettles of lower league football at Orient and Brentford. Both turned out on a bitterly cold day in short sleeved shirts, a statement that said “we ain’t a-feared of you Potters” and they confidently absorbed all that Crouch, Jerome and Fuller could throw at them.

They were aided by both full backs, with Richardson completely dominating the waning Pennant, who would probably have been replaced at half time anyway had Pulis not taken him off in the wake of that sending off. Wayne Bridge is going to have to bide his time.

The midfield worked and worked, with Gardner supporting Sessegnon up front, Colback sitting in front of the back four and Meyler picking up anything loose (including tackles from Huth – nearly there, wait for it!). As usual, the two wide men were always available and McClean caused serious problems for Wilkinson with his runs.

He took his goal well, receiving a pass from the splendid Sessegnon and running at the Stoke defence, almost losing his footing on the treacherous surface before slotting the ball calmly and confidently past Sorensen. A fine goal and one that we defended well enough to claim a deserved three points.

Last year, even against 10 men, we would have buckled. Stoke had plenty of the ball and there were a couple of hairy moments, but there was little evidence of the panic that beset us 12 months ago as we saw out the game reasonably comfortably.

So, what of the sending off? It was down to two poor decisions.

First of all, did Huth have to go careering in like that, when he surely knew that Old Red Card himself was refereeing? A tricky pitch, the possibility of two feet off the ground and a ref stood yards away from him, all indicate that the player was not thinking – and when they do not think, they can cause injuries.


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Secondly, having seen it on TV, it looks a harsh decision by Martin Atkinson. A yellow would have been more appropriate, but in real time it looked a shocker. Certainly from the seat I was in, it had to be a red card. Like the ref, I don’t have the benefit of 16 different camera angles before I call a tackle. Atkinson took his time and thought about it before he sent him off, so he was convinced that it was a dangerous tackle. It may be overturned, but I doubt it.

Whereas Huth had a mere second or two to think about his challenge, his manager had much longer to consider his response to the media after the game. Unfortunately, he did not use that time profitably and came out with some potentially slanderous comments re David Meyler.

I would suggest that Tony Pulis should watch the video again. Huth charges in at Meyler; Meyler saw him coming, tried to get out of the way and was caught by Huth. He flies up in the air and hits the ground, rolls over twice and then lays still, possibly winded, possibly fearing yet again for his career after recovering from two serious knee operations.

No Sunderland players waved imaginary red cards at Atkinson (no need to, he uses the real ones frequently enough) and John O’Shea can be seen talking calmly to Huth and saying something like “it looked worse than it was, but you know what Martin is like”.

I suspect that Pulis has used this to;
* indirectly criticise a poor decision, knowing that venting his spleen (something he does very well) at Atkinson will land him in trouble with the FA

* divert attention away from the paucity of his teams performance in the first half

To slur a Sunderland player and then go onto disrespect him even further by pretending to forget his name brings no credit whatsoever to a manager who has earned respect (sometimes grudgingly) for what he has achieved at Stoke. Maybe he is beginning to realise that City are beginning to lose the fear factor that has got them through the last three seasons.

As for MON, he got his team selection absolutely right and we move on to the Riverside on Wednesday, hoping to put last Sunday’s mildly disappointing performance behind us. Who would have thought that we would be bouncing like this 10 weeks ago?

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14 thoughts on “Soapbox at Stoke: Pulis enraged, fails to engage brain”

  1. I was disgusted with the comments made by Tony Pullis. If he had been in David Meyler’s situation, he would have reacted in a similar manner. The lad’s was only crime was to avoid serious injury. What did Pulllis expect him to do, just stand there and let Huth whack him, It was a good job Meyler reacted so quickly, otherwise goodness knows what the consequences may have been.

    I am sure the incident intensified the desire of our team to make sure Stoke did not get anything from the game. It was a spirited performance, that I’m sure every Sunderland supporter was immensly of – well done lads!

  2. How can a 6ft 6 athlete who has just run 8 metres before hurling himself forward towards Davis Meyker across a wet snow covered surface possibly pull out of a tackle. It was reckless and uncontrolled and the ref deemed that a red card that is part of the game but Tony Pullis made untrue and derogatory statements about Meylet which were totally unwarrented.

  3. Tony Pullis on the moral high ground what a laugh a man not welcome at Gillingham. When Crouch tried to remove the eye of a player where was the Pullis condemnation? Maybe if he had done his research on Sunderland his team might have fared better. He thought Meyler was called Meyer. Huth that 6ft 6 hulk of German muscle and bone flying in on you in a snow blizzard when your legs are so cold you can’t feel them would cause many men to take evasive action, but his knee caught Meyler no doubt about it and if Meyler was not fleet of foot he would have been well and truly crunched. Appeal Mr Pullis and have the ban extended it was a red card the rule says “kicking or attempting to kick” it was reckless and could have caused injury.

  4. To Pete, as usual a perfect detailed account of the encounter. I would have been tempted to have added the continual shirt pulling that Stoke defenders do at corners, and the massive attempts they do at intimidating Goalkeepers.
    They are now claiming that the reason the Stoke Penalty area was cleared, and not the Sunderland area was due to Ground Staff being disgusted at the Red Card. But, the Red Card was not our fault Stoke City, it was Martin Atkinson who decided that. Stoke have had their day of glory under Pulis, he is out of his depth now. That is just oh so obvious.

  5. Totally agree with Ifos, Bill and puskas.
    Tony Pulis has come across as the sort of manager, who expects the red card, only after the opposing team’s player (who he has no time to even find out his name) gets sidelined for 18 months.
    I think Robert Huth was genuinely concerned for David Meyler (I know his name Tony Pulis!!!). I have nothing against Huth. But, Pulis, pull the other one, There are no grounds for complaint, I trust any appeal will produce a 4 match ban instead of 3. Sad for Robert Huth as I think Pulis has made far too much of this.

    He MADE contact, David (Tony Pulis is not bothered about you) Meyler, had a nasty aerial fall in difficult conditions. He lay still, and Tony Pulis saw him writhing around. Pulis cannot get any facts correct. Not even the player’s name. So how can anyone trust his comments.

  6. Last comment about MONs team selection. Seem to remember a similar side at Brighton having SAFC fans up in arms. Just proves that Bruce just couldnt get the best out of his players.

  7. Seeing as MON is so good at motivating a group of players that he inherited, should we reemploy the Brucester as chief scout?!

  8. I just watched replays and there’s no way Huth could have pulled out of this. For good or ill, he was fully committed and an elephant gun wouldn’t have stopped him. Looked to me as if there was a bit of contact and there’s no way Meyler dived. He hit the ground hard and must’ve been winded. Either way, I imagine he wasn’t getting up until he was sure everything was okay with him. But there were no amateur theatricals, no rolling around or screwed-up-face mock agony. Huth may have been unlucky in the colour of the card he got but puling Pulis had to know he wasn’t doing himself, his club or his player any favours by throwing such a hissy fit. Unprofessional conduct made worse by its premeditation.

  9. Incensed by Pulis’ comments. He seems to think that because there were no studs showing it wasn’t a sending off, the offence a player is sent of for is ‘dangerous foul play’; no mention of studs.
    The comments that Huth ‘pulled out of the challenge’ are also nonsense, it would have been against the laws of physics for him to have pulled out, he was flying across a greasy surface towards a player who had to jump to avoid being badly injured. He pulls his feet in, but the ‘challenge’ goes through.
    It was a stupid challenge and he ran the risk of a red card, Pulis needs to look to his own players, rather than complaining unjustly about the opposition.
    As for us, another great win and the ‘magic carpet ride’ reaches new heights. And no injuries, which was my biggest fear going into this game.

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