There’s only been one thing on all Stoke fans minds this week, and that’s transfer deadline day. Now we’re over the transfer window finish line, Stoke fans are unanimous in their praise for the clubs wheeling and dealings, (but don’t tell ‘Arry that or you might get a less than pleasant response) with the summer signings of Jon Walters, Kenwyne Jones, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Marc Wilson and Jermaine Pennant. The future looks good for The Potters and the deadline day triple swoop lifted everyone’s spirits after a disappointing and pointless start to the Premier League season. With all the new faces at the Britannia stadium it’s easy to forget the faces that have left the club, some fan favourites and some who we won’t be sad to see the back of, yes I’m talking about you Agent Sonko.
12 players in total left the club this summer, 4 on loan deals and 8 permanently. The summer started with the release of Steve Simonsen, Nathaniel Wedderburn and Amdy Faye, with Simonsen joining Sheffield United and Wedderburn signing for Northampton. Next to go was ex-captain Andy Griffin, who re-joined Reading after not featuring for The Potters since his on-field spat with Ricardo Fuller over 18 months ago. All 3 left the club with warm wishes, in particular Simonsen whose role in the 07/08 Promotion season will be remembered by fans for many years to come. Another predictable exit from the club was Uruguayan ‘destroyer’ Diego Arismendi, who joined Championship club Barnsley on a season long loan, a strange signing this time last year, the young South American is desperate for first team experience in England.
Another loan exit from the Potteries was teenager Ben Marshall, who joined Carlisle. The clubs most promising youth prospect Louis Moult also left the club on loan after featuring in pre-season with the first team, joining League 2 side Bradford City.
Pulis also managed to finally end his problematic relationship with James Beattie, who joined Scottish giants Rangers. Beattie was a revelation for The Potters in his first season after signing from Sheffield United in January ‘09, scoring several crucial goals to help secure the clubs safety in the Premier League. However Beattie had a terrible 09/10 season, returning from the summer break out of shape and clearly lacking motivation, his lack of goals and effort quickly lost him his place in the first team which led up to ‘towel-gate’, where Pulis allegedly stamped his authority on Beattie in the form of a naked head butt, whether that actually happened is unlikely, but I for one prefer to believe the legend.
The summers exits will perhaps be remembered for the clubs relationship with Portsmouth, particularly surprising with Steve Quiterill in charge of the Championship club. Stoke sent 4 players to Fratton Park this summer and took one from them, local favourite Carl ‘Dicko’ Dickinson and nobody’s favourite Ibrahima ‘Agent’ Sonko joined on season long loans and Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson joined on permanent deals on transfer deadline day as part of a deal which saw Marc Wilson join Stoke. These last 2 exits from the Britannia Stadium are the biggest, with both players expected to leave all summer, although they both hoped it would be for bigger, better clubs. Liam Lawrence started the summer asking to leave Stoke and looked all set to join Celtic, but the deal never materialised. Larence has never been the same player since tripping over his dog and missing a large chunk of the clubs debut season in the Premier League, although he still scored some important goals for the club that season, in particular the first ever Premier League goal at the Britannia Stadium and the screamer against Hull which guaranteed the clubs top flight status.
Dave Kitson on the other hand was notorious for his lack of goals since arriving for a then club record £5.5 million. Kitson never really got off at the mark for the club but the fans stuck behind him up until his strop away at Chelsea at the end of last season, when everybody finally excepted that the writing was on the wall for the flame haired flop.
A lot of dead-wood has been moved out this summer, and with the loan market re-opening in a week for football league clubs, the likes of Andrew Davies, Tom Soares and Michael Tonge could be seeing the exit from the Britannia stadium sooner rather than later as the clubs look to push on to the next level.
But it’s important to remember the roles played by those who have left the club. From promotion winning heroes like Simmo, Griffin and Lawrence to players such as Amdy Faye and James Beattie who helped the club survive in surprisingly comfortable fashion in it’s first season in the top flight, as well as young players such as Arismendi and Moult who we all hope will have parts to play in the clubs future.
So, enough about the past, the season starts now (well in just over a week due to another international break), it’s important to remember the players who have left, but it’s more important to support the lads who are still here, this is undoubtedly the strongest squad in most Stoke fans lifetimes, we may be second bottom with 0 points but it’s never been so good to be a Stokie.