The Only People Who Are Really In The Know

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 27 August 2009

As our underwhelming delve into the transfer market draws to a conclusion, as I write, we have one signing to our name. Only Newcastle United, who have arguably the best squad in the Championship, have the fewest number of new signings along with ourselves, in the whole of the Football League.

Continued speculation amongst supporters and the media sees us linked with at least one new face everyday and the first signs of frustration are beginning to show at our lack of transfer activity. Our recent display at Anfield showed our need for new faces with Richard Cresswell selected in midfield. Whilst few can blame Cresswell, an average Championship striker is definitely not a Premiership midfielder, square pegs in round holes do not work in this league.

Little has been made (and probably will not ever be made) of players' and agents roles in the frustration felt nationwide by fans. I don't think any of us are that naive to think that several of our summer transfer targets did not merely use us as a stepping stone to engineering themselves a better deal at another club.

Much has been made however, of our unsuccessful "ambitious" attempts to sign players that most fans' would agree that they would be very surprised to see in a Stoke shirt at this stage. Paul Scholes, Darren Bent, Habib Beye and Peter Crouch to name but a few. The second wave of potentials, are those that have been in talks but have not agreed terms, most have got as far as having medicals if reports are to be believed; Joe Ledley, Dean Ashton, Richard Dunne, James Collins

What most fans are frustrated about, is the length of time it has taken to get through the 'A' list and on to 'B'. Hull City, whilst getting several very public knockbacks have still managed to sign Hunt, Altidore, Olofinjana, Mouyokolo and looking likely is Paul McShane. Few could argue that those players would not improve their squad.

Just as frustrating is our inability to seal a transfer deal in a reasonable amount of time. Even Whitehead, which was relatively straightforward as deals go, took a longer amount of time than some other teams take to complete a complicated deal. We have seen deals slip through the net (Djibril Cisse) because of this. There seems to be a lot of boxes to tick and whilst being prudent is admirable, if speculation is to be believed, our expectations regarding players' wages is unrealistic compared to other teams in the division.

Stoke have also had the debacle of Coates denying the Ashton link, then two weeks later we are on the verge of him signing. The whole long drawn out saga that has yet to draw to conclusion. What makes the situation even more absurd are the latest reports that Ashton may need to retire to avoid spending later life in a wheelchair, a player we spent weeks chasing and would have smashed our transfer record. Couple this with Darren Bent's Twitter remarks about The Potters and needless to say this summer has not lived up anyone's expectations.

Throughout all of this though, there have been the people, who through various outlets, have been drip-feeding "inside information" to us all about the day-to-day comings and goings at the club. These people have been either the pantomime villains or the hero dependent on the level of despondency at the time. It is fair to say, whether on purpose or not, it has not helped the experience of being a Stoke fan this summer, to hear about the near misses, knockbacks and calamities, whether false or not.

It is easy to look back on our tumultuous summer and see that the proverbial goalposts have very often moved, very quickly. So what was true an hour ago, may not be now, take Dean Ashton as the prime example. It is therefore impossible to be "in the know" unless you are either Tony Pulis, his non-existent number 2, the Chief Executive or the Chairman.

Let's hope that our faith in Tony Pulis is not misguided and he can grab the 3 or 4 last minute bargains that we are desperately crying out for. Tony has not let us down in the past and I can't imagine he will do now, the job desription of being a Stoke fan has never made easy reading and we should all be used to this by now.

By the time we have recovered from this summer, we should just about be ready for January......

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