Britannia History Season 03/04

By Mark Holmes
Last updated : 02 February 2005
GOALKEEPERS:

1. Ed De Goey
When Pulis couldn’t get Crossley, it was a welcome surprise to see De Goey roll into town. An ex-Dutch international, he’s got bags of experience and despite his age, we welcomed him to the Potteries with open arms. He looked distinctively dodgy on the opening day against Derby, he was extremely lucky not to give away a penalty and didn’t even complete the game. Since then, Ed has proved to be an excellent shot stopper and he has instilled confidence in his defence. Not keen on catching crosses but its hard to remember any real clangers from him, so overall a very good season. 7/10

14. Neil Cutler
De Goey was never going to play in every game at his age so we should be thankful that we had a player of Cutler’s quality to deputise. He chalked up 13 appearances plus another four from the bench and has never let us down. Seems to have benefited from watching Crossley last season, and De Goey this one. Has always been a superb shot stopper but he looks quicker of his line now and I even recall a few caught crosses! Has come on leaps and bounds and we should never have to worry when his name is on the team sheet. 7/10

DEFENDERS:

2. Wayne Thomas
Has finally had the chance to play a full season in his preferred position at centre-back. Started the season well and was one of the few players to come out with any credit over our poor spell. Before Taggart’s arrival, Thomas kept the defence together and since his arrival, Wayne has had to change his role slightly but the two have formed a good partnership and we look as solid as a rock at the back. Chipped in with a few goals early in the season and his distribution has improved on previous seasons. An excellent season 8/10

3. Clive Clarke
Made captain by Tony Pulis possibly because of the lack of options, possibly because he never shuts up on the pitch! Clarke has had his fair share of critics over the seasons but this has been his best to date. Is first choice left back ahead of Marcus Hall but has been doing a sterling job in midfield, deputising for John Eustace. Has led by example at times, running himself into the ground for the team. Has scored some memorable long range goals and seems to enjoy organising free-kick routines! Most improved player of the season without a doubt, we can now claim to have a genuine utility player who performs well wherever he is played. 8/10

6. Clint Hill
Hill was injured at the start of the season and we won’t see the best of him until he’s had a full season behind him. However, when he has played, Clint has never let us down and he looks to be a quality defender. Superb in the air, he may make himself a first team regular next season, particularly if Taggart leaves. 7/10

16. Marcus Hall
Hall may not be the first choice left back but he has still managed to make 37 full appearances and has had a good season. Should definitely be retained, he is a solid defender although his crosses leave a lot to be desired at times! An assured first division player, there is no one who has given Marcus a torrid time on the wing this season and he has kept most players shut out. Another good season. 7/10

21. John Halls
First joined on loan from Arsenal and later joined up permanently. The bargain of the season, Halls looks a quality player who will only get better. Sometimes looks restricted at full-back, he has bags of ability and is able to take on players with ease. At the other end, not much gets past him and he has proved to be the best right back City have had for a number of years. Many people’s player of the season, we must thank Arsenal for letting us have this absolute gem on the cheap. More man of the match awards than I care to remember, it’s hard to describe what a superb season this man has had. 9/10

29. Paul Williams
A rock solid man mountain is what we seemed to have acquired in his first appearance away at Walsall. Unfortunately the move has really worked out and Williams’ distinct lack of pace has been exposed regularly particularly in away fixtures. To be fair, he’s not afraid to get in the way of the ball and has put in some decent performances at home. Looks a division too high possibly, he’s one Pulis should consider letting go. 5/10

32. Gerry Taggart
Was the catalyst for our superb run starting way back in December on his debut. May not have the pace anymore but he has won virtually every tackle and every header he has gone in for since he joined. His experience has helped the defence come of age and he has added a voice to an otherwise quiet team. Always the last man standing, he is in the same mould as Vince Overson and will be a fantastic acquisition if Pulis can persuade him to stay on for another season. Superb. 9/10

MIDFIELDERS:

4. John Eustace
Was probably our most exciting capture of the pre-season, he captained Coventry in the Premiership and also went out on loan to Middlesbrough last season. Cleanest striker of a ball at the club although he must be the unluckiest man ever to be searching for a first goal, hitting the woodwork time and time again before his first goal came! Controls the midfield every time he plays, a true box to box player who is one of the very best midfielders outside of the Premiership. Looks a natural leader as well and has pulled the team through many matches. Injury cut his season short but he has been fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough of this player. Would undoubtedly have been player of the season with a few more games, there is only one Super John. 9/10

11. Peter Hoekstra
Another contender for most improved player, Hooky has added a steel and determination to his obvious unbelievable talent. Excites every time he gets the ball, nobody knows what he will do next. It’s a terrible shame he has been dogged with injury and has been forced to retire, we will all have fond memories of this man. Got goal of the season for his second versus Reading and has turned games too many times to remember. 8/10

17. Darel Russell
Deserves a special mention for appearing in every game this season, Darel has been our most underrated player at times this season. He’s got a superb engine and never gives up, he’s done well wherever he’s played this season and has run the midfield at times during Eustace’s absence. Only got four goals this season but its his hard work and effort that everyone really appreciates. Is also comfortable on the ball and his distribution is excellent for most of the time. 8/10

18. Lewis Neal
Another player who has been unfortunate with injury, Neal has proved himself to be a fantastic talent this year. Is easily the best crosser at the club, he will create bags of goals for strikers if he gets a run in the side. Is likely to fight it out for a left wing spot with Commons next year but should become an important member of the squad. 7/10

23. Karl Henry
In truth, Henry has never looked strong enough to play at this level and although he’s good on the ball, has been frustrating with too many backwards and sideward passes. However, since returning from a loan spell at Cheltenham, Karl looks a far more assured player and has grown in stature immensely. Has impressed everyone in these final few games, he is likely to be involved with the first team far more next season. 7/10

24. Kris Commons
A player with a huge reputation, he has got great talent for sure. Is not afraid to shoot and will score goals. He is able to take on players with ease and he could become the best talent the Potteries has seen for some time. However, he can also be one of the most frustrating players as he goes to ground too easily and is sometimes a little too clever on the ball. Would benefit from a summer in the gym, Kris can become a huge player if nurtured correctly. 7/10

STRIKERS:

7. Carl Asaba
Started the season with a bang, netting five times in his first ten appearances. Is a skilful player and the most natural finisher at the club but since being left out of the side, Carl has looked a different player and nowhere near as dangerous. On his best form, could get a lot of goals but he has put in three transfer requests this season and if he still wants to leave, there wouldn’t be too many complaints if Pulis decided to let him go providing further cover was secured. However, if we can keep him, Carl will be an asset to the side. 6/10

9. Gifton Noel-Williams
Was brought in as more of a target man than a goalscorer, Gifton has been just that. He holds the ball up better than any striker we’ve had for quite some time and has won countless flick ons that have resulted in goals. May only have ten goals from 40 starts but has created so many more and both Asaba and Akinbiyi only produce their best form when alongside Gifton. Another player that is grossly underrated, he deserves great credit especially considering he has played with arthritis. However, it could be argued that if City want to be a top six side they will need two twenty goal strikers and Gifton is evidently not this. However, we should certainly keep him on as he has done very well for the side. 8/10

10. Ade Akinbiyi
Fans were delighted when we finally signed Ade after he scored the goal to keep us up last season. Was nowhere near fully fit when we signed him, it took some time for us to see the best of Ade. When he did reach full fitness, he was awesome, scaring the life out of defenders every time he played. Unfortunately picked up an injury and only ended the season with ten goals. Next season we will see him firing on all cylinders and we can expect him to score in excess of 20 goals. 9/10

BEST OF THE REST:

8. Chris Greenacre- Looked good playing behind the front two early on in the season but he will never score enough goals at this level. Will sit on his huge pay packet but should be allowed to leave if we receive any offers. 6/10

15. Chris Iwelumo- It was sad to see this fans favourite leave but another player who would never get the goals. 6/10

19. Marc Goodfellow- A player who had talent but rarely used it (Man United an exception) he was nowhere near good enough. 5/10

20. Keith Andrews- Did a good job alongside Eustace early on but no tears were shed when he retuned to Wolves, he was never anything more than adequate. 6/10

33. Sebastian Svard- An excellent passer of the ball, Svard is a very good player but Karl Henry has come in and shown himself to be a great talent so there is no need to pursue Svard. Did well but no world beater. 6/10

STOKE CITY MAD AWARDS:

PLAYER OF THE SEASON:
Would have been John Eustace but for injury so it must go to JOHN HALLS as he has been superb ever since we signed him. A sincere thank you must go to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal-they don’t know what they’ve let go.

YOUNG PLAYER OF THE SEASON:
A special mention must go to Karl Henry and Lewis Neal who can now be considered first team players but the official vote of DAREL RUSSELL must be right. Has played every game and that is some achievement, Darel has had a brilliant season and was a snip from Norwich.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
Peter Hoekstra comes a very close second and Wayne Thomas deserves a mention as does Neil Cutler but CLIVE CLARKE takes it. Has looked assured in every position and is a true captain now. The only problem now is deciding where to play him.

The future’s bright the future’s red and white. Well done boys!

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