Supporters Club Meet The Players Night Reviewed

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 09 December 2009

Well it certainly has been a week to quickly forget for us Potters. The media feeding frenzy has parked it bus outside the gates of the training ground and Britannia Stadium front door to pick the bones out of the various versions of the dressing room carnage, naked brawl, pistols at dawn, gentlemens standoff, whichever version you choose to believe over the others. 
 
Football is a passionate game and you expect the odd tryst but a fracas about a day off and the Christmas party is not quite joyeux noel and sees an unwelcome return of the embarrasment at the Boleyn Ground last season. Hopefully we can move on from this, although I don't think we have heard the last of it. Andy Griffin has hardly made an appearance on the bench since that incident after a dust up with Ricardo Fuller, so goodness knows how this one will end, to fall out with Pulis himself. 
 
To dampen this one down will be quite difficult with the media pouring petrol on the situation. Pulis may be a very good man manager, but this one will take some doing. Pulis needs to calm the attention that is coming Stoke's way and to a certain extent, needs to court the media a bit better than he is doing to convince them that there is nothing else to report. Shutting them out completely can see them sniffing around other avenues and stirring it up 
 
As mentioned by a few other people, Pulis needs to understand who broke ranks and leaked this to the press in the first instance. It will certainly give Pulis a few headaches over the next couple of weeks. Looking at the potential timing of this incident, it has come only a few weeks before the next transfer window and any potential shuffling within the team can come swiftly without the lasting damage of having an unhappy player or two in the ranks for months. 
 
I look at it this way, Pulis has always been shrewd at man managing a team, getting the most out of the players he has. There wouldn't be many managers you would pick over Tony Pulis to sort this mess out is there? 
 
I don't think we will ever fully get to the bottom of what happened at The Emirates but last nights meet the player night from Delilah's offered for some, a little hope in trying to prize out some nuggets of information about the going's on at the weekend. All that was hastily put pay to when an announcement was made that questions about the alleged incident would not be fielded to the players 
 
As it was, we would have only had Thomas Sorensen's take on the situation anyway, being the only witness on the day present as he was joined in Delilahs by summer signing Diego Arismendi and Matthew Lund. 
 
Nigel Johnson, who was hosting the proceedings, started by talking a little to Thomas and Matthew about their moves from Villa and Crewe and how that compared to Stoke. He would later put this question to Diego Arismendi, however, having seemingly borrowed Ricardo Fuller's alarm clock, was 15 minutes late! 
 
Sorensen seems to be really relishing the chance he has at Stoke now and although a very modest professional, must be beaming with the stats he has for clean sheets and penalty saves. Nige prodded him for a bit more information about his penalty saving system, but nothing was being revealed. 
 
Matthew Lund (who also revealed himself to be a Manchester United supporter!) left Crewe with the draw of establishing himself at a Premier League club. Dario Gradi apparently spent much time trying to persuade him to stay with Crewe, but a fresh challenge at a fresh club appealed to him. Matthew, again appeared to be a well balanced young man and is loving the chance at playing regular reserve team football and will be eyeing a place in the first team squad in the not too distant future. 
 
Diego Arismendi, sporting a newly shaven head (which he said he got when he went out with Ricardo Fuller who convinced him to get it done!) said that it has taken time for him to adjust to life in England. The weather in particular was mentioned, as was the fast pace of the English game compared to the Uraguayan leagues. He also mentioned the fact that he was feeling a little bit isolated as he has no family over here, just his girlfriend. It was a bit difficult really as being fielded questions from Nigel Johnson, who we as native Engligh speakers struggle to understand at times, coupled with the fact that he attempted to answer in very broken English, meant that we didnt get a lot out of him really and I was looking forward to hearing how he was going on. 
 
The mainstay of the night was mainly Sorensen talking. I put a question forward about what the team spirit is like this season compared to last season and Thomas said that it is as good, with a big mix of different characters in the dressing room. A question was asked about who the players would like to sign for Stoke, Arismendi said Drogba. Sorensen, whilst tongue in cheek agreeing with him made the valid point that as well as the pure skill of a player it is about the dressing room and commitment of the player. Sorensen said he would love to see Drogba training on a cold morning at the Trent Vale training ground and whilst cracking a joke, you have to take what he says on board. 
 
A couple of questions completely out of leftfield were asked about an incident involving Sorensen, the Denmark squad, a beachball and an airport. The story Sorensen then told was of the clanger he dropped against England playing for Denmark and in the airport on the way home a bunch of England fans taunting him with a beachball. Another question was then asked about the punishment handed to Denmark when playing Sweden. Sorensen explained that a Euro qualifying match was abandoned when a Denmark fan invaded the pitch and tried to remonstrate with the referee who had awarded a late penalty to Sweden. 
 
The next question asked was what the thoughts were on playing Tuncay and Fuller together as a forward pairing. A wry smile came across Sorensen's face and it seemed to me that he was thinking the same as we all are. The usual party line was towed about right players for the system and trying various things, it's up to the gaffer etc. 
 
Asking what position they thought Stoke would finish this season, the message coming from all the players was that a better than last season finish is the minimum they are expecting of themselves and a break into the top 10 which is good to hear and Arismendi predicts us 8th. 
 
Tips for relegation 
 
Matthew Lund - Portsmouth and Wolves (only gave two) 
Sorensen - Portsmouth, Bolton, West Ham 
 
A fantastic night was had by all and a big thanks to The Stoke City Supporters Club for doing us pround again and organising these nights!

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