How To Solve A Problem Like Tuncay?

By Dan Buxton
Last updated : 26 July 2010

My first reaction is, try playing him from the start with Ricardo!  

If you hadn't already guessed, let me nail my colours firmly to the mast. I really rate our enigmatic Turk and I believe he has the potential to be a massive asset if we utilise him correctly.  

Tuncay Sanli’s debut season at Stoke was interesting to say the least. I recall being present at his first training session down at the Mich (sorry Clayton Woods!) In only a few seconds it was clear he had something special about him. Sometimes you look at a player and can just tell they have ability. The lads were having a training game when the ball dropped to “Tunny” who quick as a flash switched feet and drilled a shot past Steve Simonsen. There was almost a silent pause from the other players and the 30 or so Stokies watching. This lad looked the business.  

A promising 6-minute debut against Sunderland soon followed. Tuncay was full of running and had a real freshness about him. It had been said that he wasn’t “Stoke fit” so most accepted that it may be a while before he started every game for the Potters.  

His early weeks were disrupted by international call-ups, which made TP’s decision of when to start him more of an issue. He did eventually get a start against Blackpool in the League Cup, a steady but not spectacular first half was followed up by a very exciting glimpse into just how potent a Tuncay/Fuller partnership could be.  

 Some sceptics were at pains to point out that it “was only Blackpool” who they looked so promising against, but the Seasiders looked a good side and as we know, went on to clinch promotion. During that second 45 minutes it would be fair to say that our front two carved the Tangerines open every few minutes and it was amazing we didn’t score more than we did.  

Sadly that was about as good as it got for “Tunny” until he started away at the Emirates (where he looked lively) and then kept his place for the game at home to Wigan. TP finally decided to partner our two most potent attackers together and he and Ric created a good few chances in a 2-2 draw, with our ex-Fenerbahçe man getting on the scoresheet.  

In between the Blackpool and Wigan games there was of course an incident, which has ultimately shaped the majority of Tuncay’s time with Stoke City. I was at the KC Stadium to see us gift-wrap three points to Phil Orange (and keep him in a job for a while longer.) Things started quite well with Ethers lashing in a well-taken goal but Stoke began to defend deeper and deeper. Somehow Seyi Olofinjana took three seconds of his life to remember he was a pro footballer and curled one into the top corner!  

It got worse for us as Mike “I love Stoke” Dean couldn’t wait to book Abdoulaye for a second time, which forced TP into sacrificing Tuncay despite him only being on the pitch for 6 minutes. What followed was in a way understandable but also wholly unacceptable as our Turkish international stormed down the tunnel, gesticulating as he ran off.  

As we know this sort of display has become synonymous with “Tunny” and it is something that TP has had to answer questions over on several occasions. As much as I rate Tuncay he simply has to stop these petulant reactions whenever he is substituted. Football is a team game and Stoke City thrive on a good dressing room spirit. If he is to have a long term future with us he has to stamp out this part of his psyche.  

The one positive out of all this is that TP does keep making excuses for him. I suspect the gaffer realises he has a gem in “Tunny” but needs more time to work his magic on him. I’m hoping that after a very tough pre-season with us, Tuncay will now be ready to figure in a Tony Pulis team. He will have to run and then run some more, but if in between all that hard work he manages to dance past a few challenges or slip Ric in on goal, things may just start to work out for him at the Britannia.  

There has been a lot of speculation this summer about comings and goings at Stoke and many stories revolve around strikers. Clearly it seems that Beattie and Kitson are for the off and we are still heavily linked to Carlton Cole. I would welcome Cole’s arrival but I honestly hope that TP gives some serious thought to trying our two most exciting frontmen together in unison.  

Fans, pundits and even our manager have spoken about evolving our style of play. We have for some time looked to Mama for an out ball but with his form dipping beyond acceptable levels, we need to try something new. Cole might be a target man but if the figures are to be believed I would be amazed if we signed him and kept trying to hit him with high balls as I’m not completely sure he’s suited to the job.  

With the addition of a new central midfielder who could feed Tuncay in the hole, I would really like to see our bit of Turkish delight given the opportunity to express himself and provide Fuller with the perfect ammunition as well as chipping in with a few goals himself.  

The pre-season hat-trick at the Lyme Valley Stadium was a timely reminder of the type of player we already have on the books. Hopefully the new season will see a change in mentality from Tuncay and a give him a real chance to show us exactly what an exciting player he can be for Stoke City.

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