Well let’s hope so!
If you’re anything like me, by now you will have wasted far too much time and effort scouring forums and websites in a desperate attempt to find out who Stoke are going to sign this summer.
As you’re no doubt aware, it has so far (no offence to Carlo Nash) all been in vain. Rumours are rife that we are in for some excellent players, but as per usual we’re still waiting to break our duck where first XI signings are concerned.
It was always going to be a busy summer. We’ve got a plethora of players who simply aren’t good enough at this level but are on fairly handsome salaries. We’re not short of cash but one thing Peter Coates isn’t, is daft. He knows only too well that we have to move players on before we get new recruits in, especially with the new squad rulings.
The outgoings have of course already begun. Griff has moved to Reading, Simmo has joined Sheff Utd, Sonko looks to be Pompey bound, Arismendi is furthering our recent links with Barnsley and it appears Dicko is off to Deepdale. Players such as Michael Tonge, Tom Soares, Andrew Davies and probably Salif Diao all look ready for a move away.
The main two waiting in the departure lounge, are of course James Beattie and Dave Kitson. Now both of these players are on big money but their stock has fallen dramatically over the last few months. Let’s make no bones about it; Beattie was a huge signing for us. His arrival gave a goal shy team a real cutting edge and it’s fair to say his ability to notch played a massive part in us staying up in our first season back in the top flight. It is a real shame how things have turned out, he was rarely fit last season and the fall out with TP at the Emirates was the final straw in truth. He was a glorious hero, but I’m afraid he’s closer to zero these days.
The tale of Dave Kitson’s time at Stoke has been a very strange one indeed. I am pretty confident in saying that I have never seen a set of fans so behind a player despite them not cutting the mustard. He arrived as our record signing and after doing very well at Reading most Stokies were hell bent on making sure his stay would be a success. After his disastrous (and goalless) debut year he was still cheered to the rafters during pre season last summer. Our faith looked to have been rewarded as Dave began to show glimpses of the player we thought we had signed. Just as he is getting into his stride though (and for reasons yet to be explained) we decided to send him out on loan. After the odd goal at Boro and Reading, Kitson was gradually invited back into the fold by TP only for him to seal his own exit with a petulant touchline rant away to Chelsea.
The weird thing is, most Stoke fans have at some point really liked both of our exiled forwards but the popular view seems to be that both should now move on. The problem is where, given how much we have spent in fees and how much they currently earn. Beattie has already turned Fulham down in the January window so I’m not exactly sure who he thinks will want him at this stage of his career. Kitson cost us £5.5m and will also be on decent money. I wonder just how much are the club prepared to write off on these deals?
So with only four weeks until our trip to our Staffordshire neighbours from Wolverhampton, when and who are we going to sign? Well hopefully this week’s return of TP and the lads from the trip to Austria should (God willing) see the wheels start to turn. A left back, a ball player, a right winger and a couple of strikers all seem to feature on most Stoke fans’ wish list. I don’t doubt the merits of our now regular training camp in Irdning but I think we all knew that despite reports from the Brit, we don’t sign players when TP is away.
So it’s over to you messrs Tony Pulis, Peter Coates and Tony Scholes. We have much to do and not that much time to do it in. I have every confidence that we will get new players in, although I will rest far easier once the first ones arrive!
On a final note, well done to Rory on his excellent fund raising work again and may I wish Andy Griffin and Steve Simonsen, every success in their future careers after playing very significant parts in Stoke City’s recent history.