Are We Back On Track?...Or Not?

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 19 November 2009

Rather than a week or so of calm reflection on a couple of dissapointing results, Stoke are once again in the media, for all the wrong reasons. 
 
Kitson is off to Middlesbrough on loan and Lawrence could be holding show-down talks with Pulis over his future. Who could really blame Lawrence, along with Tuncay for being so frustrated at getting regular international football, but, in Lawrence's case, being ousted for the last few games at the expense of Delap, who has underperformed and is playing out of position. 
 
I watched a bit of the first leg France game and Lawrence, along with Whelan looked really useful. Breaking into your international side is a major achievment and staying there means playing regularly for your club. We have lacked the creativity in the midfield during the last few games and players like Lawrence and Whelan provide the pace and passing needed to break down teams as well as on outlet to run at opposition players. 
 
Personally, I dont think we will start on Sunday with either Whelan or Lawrence and tiredness will be the excuse. It will be a return to Whitehead and Diao in the middle with Delap on the right is my guess. We need to really take advantage of the home games again this season and so far we have done that with the teams outside the top four, albeit dropping 2 points against Wolves. 
 
Stoke do not need the kind of press that we have been getting this week. Unofficial reports of training ground bust-ups and discontent with Lawrence and Kitson, we need to steady the ship ahead of the transfer window re-opening in the next 6 or 7 weeks. Hopefully we can get back on track with a win against Portsmouth, but rest assured that Pompey are starting to find their way back again 
 
We will see during the next 6 games if the team spirit is still there as there has been speculation that the togetherness in the dressing room that we saw last season has taken a knock. We need a response to a few difficult weeks and Sunday is the ideal platform. 
 
To coin a phrase, it is a funny old game as a win will see a return to the euphoria and crazy talk of the Europa league, whilst a loss will see fans berate Pulis, question his position and contemplate relegation. The talking for me will be done on the pitch rather than off it and I will be watching several performances on Sunday a little more closely than before amid all the speculation. We want a reaction, we need a reaction so come on Stoke!

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