Chris Jones*, an administrator on three Stoke City fan sites, is Welsh and could talk for Wales on All Things City. Having kindly agreed to step into the “Who are You?” hot seat, he did so, spilling beans by the lorryload on Stoke’s Sunderland old boys – a mixed report, but check out his amazing view of Dean Whitehead – and Tony Pulis, also offering an unfashionably chilly view of Martin O’Neill and news of a Welsh-speaking Mackem …
Salut! Sunderland: When I first sent you the questions, Stoke – their home captured above by Ronnie Macdonald – were in an admirable league position, eighth top, but with a near relegation zone negative goal difference (which is why we are above you until tomorrow, on the same points). Explain that if you can!
We have a very healthy league position but as you point out we have been uncharacteristically leaky at the back. I’ll start with our back four conundrum. Last year we had a more or less steady back four of Wilkinson, Huth, Shawcross, Collins/Wilson(neither of whom are left backs but Wilson is a quantum leap better than Danny). We all thought a half decent left back, wing cover and a attacking midfielder and the teams sorted. What did we get?? Well Upson and Woody for a kick off … one was one of the worst defenders in the league last season, the other had more injuries to his name than a crash test dummy. Upson, fair play, has been very good when called upon, but Woody is for want of a better word crap; awful doesn’t even do the lad justice. Shame to say it but he should have retired, for some unknown reason TP has insisted on playing him at right back, highly embarrassing for all concerned. I’m admin on three Stoke sites, and all the Stokies are honestly cursing Pulis for even letting Woody into the stadium let alone on the pitch. I can now reveal to one and all why he plays him, just had a txt for a man in the know saying that it’s in his contract. He’s fit, he plays. Simple as.
The chopping and changing at the back has cost Begovic his first team place, who could blame him though? Every week we’d have a different back four, how could we hope for any cohesion or continuity? I honestly think if we had our best back four on for all our league games we’d be five or six points better off, and Asmir would still be in goal (Tommy is good, but Begovic is world class).
After hearing what I have about Woody, I’d risk losing him and drop him asap. Wilko has had injury problems all season,worst luck but in Shotton we have not just a replacement but imho an improvement.
Still were doing ok league wise so I can’t complain that much, our best mid season position in my long, sometimes arduous time of being a Stoke fan.
Our 4-0 victory against you at the Stadium of Light was one of only two wins for us under Steve Bruce this season. A fluke, a hint that we were nowhere near as bad as we had seemed early season or just a case of your team being tired after midweek exploits in Kiev?
We have a woeful record against your goodselves at the Stadium of Light and your old Roker Park stomping ground, so my horizons were set very low. A draw would have made my day. I had a bet with the only Sunderland fan I know (had to, a pride thing), felt like coughing up before a ball was kicked if I’m being honest. Our recent 29 year run without losing to the baggies has just come to an end but that seems like a drop in the ocean compared to our away record v you. I usually spend match days on Stoke Mad babbling to the progress of the match to my friends on there if I can’t get to a game.
You weren’t in the best of form coming into the game … but you ripped us to bits and Potato Head enjoyed a rare win (Bruce was hated amongst Stokies almost as much as yourselves).
I didn’t expect a four-niller though. On paper you have a very good squad, should be with the amount spent on it. O’Shea,and Brown have done it all and Bruce made his utd connection pay dividends on that one and no mistake, Seb Larsson is probably the player I’d like most of yours in Stoke (Gyan isn’t worthy of yourselves or us despite his undoubted talent). We were made to look like relegation fodder by you, no fluke, no excuses about Europe here. The team that played that day had been rested plenty. No we came we saw we co … no sorry what I meant to say was we didn’t turn up, we were outplayed, outgunned and if we were boxers we’d have been out cold.
Tony Pulis is your longest serving manager since Tony Waddington, if I am right. Assess the job he has done for you and tell us where you stand on the stubborn controversy about Stoke’s style of play.
Right Tony Pulis time. Love him or hate him.`Not one of the Pulis haters can knock what he’s done for our club (he has always had his critics here from the word go). We changed managers more often than Mickey Thomas had clubs. Lurching from one hopeless one to the next, Ball, Barker, Mills, Kamara – the list goes on and on. Lou was my favourite; we played some good football under the wee man, saw him last season in the back of the stand at Old Trafford. Hard to believe he was a player, he’s that small. Sorry I got side tracked there. When Coates and Pulis were first at Stoke we were on our knees skint and struggling … que the penguins and there reign of terror, forcing there manager to play useless Icelandic players who wouldn’t even get into my local team’s reserves. Coates returned, now super rich … he thought so much of TP that he’d only buy the club back if the fans accepted Pulis as their manager again. To be honest there was a lot of disgruntled Stokies at the time. Me I was happy as a pig in the proverbial … been a big advocate of having a solid defensive unit and the rest will follow from the word go. The season we went up is probably the highlight for me as a Stoke fan, yes the FA Cup was superb … but when you’ve watched your team struggle for most of your adult life (I was 13 in 84 when we went down) you’ll know what I mean. Pulis bought Nash and co in on loan that year and it worked wonders. Sure he’s made some gaffes,f allen out with players, bought a few bad players but the things he’s got right have got us where we are today.
Other teams hate playing us because of our style of play, not to everyone’s taste but to be frank I don’t care. We can play, too, as our demolition of the Trotters showed. Have to say though I am sick of Rory’s long throws, plus the fact they’re not as effective anymore. He (Puils) is not infallible though and sometimes his selections and formations do my head in. His stubborn ways are also a pain at times: Tuncay, Pennant now and his over reliance on the tried and tested are points in fact.
How could anyone not think the world of a man who came from his mother’s death bed straight back to his job to turn the tide in a game we were floundering, and lead us into a highly unlikely win? He would die for his club, not many fans could say that of thei® manager ..In Pulis We Trust.
Did you welcome the Man City m(b)illions as shaking up the Premier elite or does all that money sloshing around a few big clubs worry you? And does Peter Coates have the financial clout to maintain and improve on Stoke’s impressive Premier ranking?
Man City, as probably most fans would agree, are going to be the team to beat for years to come. Good on them,because I HATE their neighbours with a passion … it’s not just that though.
City like ourselves have been in the doldrums for years on end and have suffered like we have. Only they had a hugely successful neighbour to look down at them to … we have Vale.
Shinawatra did them proud in finding even richer owners than himself, even though he was in dire straits himself. The scum have had it too easy for to long, Chelsea are a team in turmoil, Liverpool are yet again nowhere and Arsenal are a joke. Spurs are the only team that look worthy of challenging City.
Don’t like their manager though: arrogant git, he is.
Peter Coates? Moved from property to online gambling, changed his fortunes from a mere 20m to a whopping 300+. Ok he’s not Abramovic but he is wealthy and more important than anything money can bring he is a lifelong Stoke fan … can’t ask for more. Generous but no one’s fool.
Sir Stanley and Gordon Banks presumably figure in your answer to this: who are the greatest players you have seen, or wish you’d seen, in Stoke colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
Mickey Thomas was my idol as a kid, a fantastic player quick, skillful and our player of the year on both stints at the Vic. As for player Id have liked to have seen in red and white then it would have to be Karl Heinz Rumminega … (second only to Maradonna in my all time favourites but I can’t say him I’d get lynched). No, KHR was a winner through and through. As for shouldn’t have been a Stokie, can I have two? Woodgate and that equally talented Danny Collins bloke (thanks for that, but you did give us Deano so you’re forgiven.
And what have been your highs and lows as a Stoke supporter?
My highlight as a Stoke fan has to be our promotion back to the top flight, eclipses the FA Cup and Europe easily (they’re just nice bonuses). Just meant so much after all the years in the wilderness. The lows are many but like promotion nothing but nothing touches 84 (God, I suffered for my team that season, a 13-year-old Stoke fan in North Wales, full of scum, Liverpool and Everton fans). I got so much stick it wasn’t even funny by the end. At least we beat the scum (SWFC,and Arsenal being our only other wins). If memory serves we went from Christmas till mid Feb without a point (still haunts me to this day!)
In your defeat vs WBA, two former Sunderland players, Sorensen and Delap, started with Jones and Whitehead on the bench. Since you clearly had problems scoring, I was surprised Jones didn’t get on, but would you say the days of most of your ex SAFC men at the Britannia are numbered?
With KJ, as your fans have said, when he’s up for it he’s brilliant. Trouble is this is a rare event. I expect him to go in the summer. Danny ******* Collins grrrr why us eh, what have we ever done to you? Rory’s been amazing for us but in my opinion he should be put out to grass now. Tommy has been good and he’ll be good for Begovic’s development. Deano … what can I say!! My favourite Stoke player, what an engine might not have the skill or goals but … I can’t explain it HE IS A STAR.
Beyond the obvious similarity in our colours, what thoughts do you have on Sunderland, the club, Martin O’Neill, the fans, the city and/or region? And on Newcastle?
To be honest never been up to the North East, but I know a few Geordies on Anglesey, good lads one and all, if a little too fond of the pop lol. I have worked with one Sunderland fan for 20 years,and although he’s been bought up here and talks Welsh with no hint of an accent, he is proud of his roots and team. Which counts for a lot in my books. As for MON and your team and fans go I’m a bit split if I’m honest. I met a few of your fans on my honeymoon nearly nine years ago now, down to earth and loyal as hell ..good lads. You’ve had a bit of a hard time under potato head, but MON is here to save the day. Will he be a success for you? I guess only time will tell. In the short term yes, but a few years down the line I’m not so sure…cards on the table as a manager I don’t like him. I think he’s massively overrated and has an uncanny habit of blowing large amounts of cash. I hope I’m wrong,but that’s my opinion.
What will be this season’s top four, in order, who will go down and who will win the major competitions?
EL: A Madrid
Best Pie: Wigan(again)
Where will Stoke and Sunderland finish?
We are both top half teams of that I have no doubt…erm Sunderland 9th ,and us 8th.
This used to be the Eduardo Question after his dive against Celtic and then became the Walcott Question in tribute to his honesty in admitting a dive and apologising for it. It has also been the Barton Question and is currently the Osman Question: that covers diving, feigning injury and (Osman) falling over your own feet and demanding a penalty. Long preamble but what form of cheating most annoys you and what would you do about it?
Every team bends the rules a bit but diving does my head in the most. It’s a mans game, ffs stand up and make a difference grrrr. A ban retrospectively for diving would make me happy.
What single step could Stoke or the football authorities take to improve the lot of ordinary supporters?
Get safe standing sections pushed through toute suite … miss it.
What will be the score?
2-1 to us.
* Chris Jones on Chris Jones: Been a Stoke fan from the word go .. long story but just so you get part of the picture. My dad followed the scum, my mam liked dirty Leeds, my bro is Everton and my sister likes City. I’m the only one with a real passion. Four out of my six kids follow in their dad’s footsteps (even converted my wife … she had no choice. Proud as hell of being a Stoke fan and always will be win, lose or draw. UTMP.
Interview: Colin Randall