Festive Cheer Misses Out Potters

Last updated : 31 December 2009 By Dan Buxton

The Christmas season has not been full of cheer for us Stokies. Even though I, like many others have been away, I still travelled to Eastlands for our no-show against Man City and our ridiculous defeat against Birmingham.

The atmosphere in the away-end at Eastlands was almost as flat as our performance and it is hard to motivate yourself when you do not see the effort and commitment you have displayed being returned by the team.

It is true to say that we had chances in both games to change the scoreline, Tuncay through at Eastlands, as well as a Huth header in the last 10 minutes and countless chances against Birmingham. It seems that we cannot buy a goal at the moment and just about every attacking combination has been tried at some point in the last two games. You feel that we need any kind of goal just to get things back on track.

What has been more clear over the course of the last couple of games, is that there is some kind of backroom issue whether it be from the Christmas party, although I think it may stem further back from there. A couple of fans I was talking to at Eastlands made the point that things have started to change since the arrival of Peter Reid and whilst statistically that may well be correct, we all hope that this is pure co-incidence. You could tell that frustrations were starting to show against Birmingham with Lawrence and Shawcross starting to boil over.

We look a shadow of the team that did us so proud last season. Whilst the team on paper is stronger than last season, there does seem something amiss. Strange team selections, reports of bust-ups as well as Fuller's alleged late arrival against Birmingham all point to the wrong attitude for the type of situation we find ourselves in where we need to dig deep and grind a few results out to get ourselves back on track. What epitomises the stark contrast from last season is the change in form from our club captain Abdoulaye Faye. The man mountain who was so cool in his approach to his game has not even come out of the starting blocks this season and against Birmingham for example, gave away needless corner kicks. It would be unfair to single out Abdoulaye, as he is only one of many who this could apply to.

Pulis has now got a month to sort this out and ship out the problem players and the players who are not good enough for this level and get us the quality we need in midfield and upfront to take hold of a game and put teams to the sword. Easier said than done though as the players need to be able to lift the dressing room as at the moment we seem to be our own worst enemies. January and February are looking to be crucial months for us and there can be no repeats of the antics that we saw with Tuncay who didnt play for months after he was brought, we need players who can start now and make an impact now.

Fortunately for Stoke, we are probably one of only a handful of teams who can splash a bit of cash in this transfer window which should give us a bit of an advantage over our fellow competitors in the lower half of the table.

We need the spirit and determination of the side that beat Manchester City when down to 10 men last season. We need the team to give us something to cheer about, we need to lift the team like we did last season, we need a shuffle of the pack and we need Pulis to come up trumps in this transfer window. He did it last season with Beattie and oh how desperate we are for a repeat of the success of that signing now!

Here's wishing all fellow Potters, wherever you are, a Happy New Year and for our sakes, let's hope it is!