How Do You Solve A Problem Like Tuncay?

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 12 November 2009

For the first time in a while, the international break has come at the right time for our club. The recent disappointment of throwing a two goal lead against Wolves has been followed by throwing away a lead at the KC stadium on Sunday. 
 
It was a horror show against Hull to say the least. In a stark contrast to the corresponding fixture last year we stood off, let them dictate the game and our goal, as good as it was, came against the run of play. Bullard was free to roam as far as he could with the ball as we shied away and our setup in the middle and back of the park left many fans scratching their heads. Huth, who is a very good aerial center half, will always have the run around if you play him as a fullback, pitched against a pacey winger. The fact that Rory Delap, who has come in for some harsh criticism of late, was played out of position and in replacement of Lawrence, a full international who won man of the match against the world champions, showed me that we went to Hull to sit back and not get at a team who had only won three times in 2009. 
 
There have been some very strange tactical decisions of late by Tony Pulis and far be it from me to criticise the manager who has got us to this point, but it has to be every fans right to express an opinion. 
 
The saddest moment on Sunday had to be watching the introduction of Tuncay on 80 minutes as a substitute and then seven minutes later, his withdrawal to make way for Andy Wilkinson to reshuffle the defence after Abdoulaye Faye's dismissal. The last time I remember a Stoke substitute being subbed was Peter Sweeney in a cup match at The Britannia Stadium a few seasons ago, he also went marching straight down the tunnel, as did Tuncay. If I remember correctly, Sweeney didn't hang around Stoke much longer after that incident. 
 
Tuncay has played very little in the Premier League this season and has been limited to a few cameo appearances as a substitute. Pulis has said that he maybe match fit but he is not “Stoke Fit”. Contrast this to Beattie, who has not looked fit since the back end of last season and has only finished one full game so far in this campaign. Also, Sidibie, who has spent several months injured, but is rushed back only to become injured once again. 
 
All this must be demoralising for a player who is captain of the national team and needs to be playing regularly at first team level to keep that place. 
 
Personally, I think when Tuncay has come on as substitute this season, more often than not it has been for the wrong player or being played in the wrong way. A lot of the time we see Tuncay coming on for Fuller whereas I would like to see both him and Tuncay playing alongside each other for an extended period. Also, I feel that when he does come on, we often leave him up front on his own. Take the Chelsea match, Tuncay came on and we immediately reverted to 1 up front. This meant that every time the ball came to him, two or three Chelsea players were on him, never giving him a chance. 
 
Pulis needs to sit and think during this break about the reasons he brought Tuncay here in the first place. Middlesbrough fans said at the time we signed him that we do not play his type of game. Did Pulis bring him here as an impact player or the first piece in the jigsaw of developing our style of play. 
 
Whatever the situation is, it needs to be sorted and fast. We have several important games coming up that on paper, we would expect points out of. Portsmouth, Wigan, Fulham all at home and Blackburn away. Pulis needs the dressing room more than ever and it is how the players respond to this that will show us the strength of character we have at the club. As for Tuncay, he deserves his chance and I think he should be given it, sooner rather than later before we lose the best £5m substitute we have ever had. 

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