From despair to where?

It’s been a hectic day for forefingers, eh?

Social media both is and isn’t the best place to see supporter reaction. Its immediacy can sometimes mean that supporters type before they think, but it also lends itself seamlessly to a spontaneity that you don’t get from any other form of media. But it can also mean you put yourself in one camp or the other; dangerous territory if you quickly nail your colours to the mast over an issue or decision.

But it’s always a very decent barometer of supporter feeling – from the young lads in block 19, to those of us of a certain age in the Family Stand; and from wind up merchants to members of the national media – although that may well be one and the same thing, eh Robbie?

Twitter has been gold dust all day today: humour, anger, bitterness, surprise, disbelief…..mostly negative emotions in the main, and you can’t blame folk can you, when the news broke this morning? A week of expectation and hopes over certain names and potential targets…..I’m sure that nine days ago Paul Lambert wouldn’t have been the name on many Potters’ lips And I’m sure our new manager would understand that, too.

Disappointment in the magnitude of the appointment has probably heightened due to being linked so heavily linked with managers with a much bigger name and/or pedigree. And that is to be expected. If Stokies were asked two weeks ago whether they’d like us to sack Mark Hughes and replace him with Paul Lambert then I think the vote would have been very split. That we didn’t get that absolute cool as **** lad from Espanyol or the motivational/rollocking Eire duo is no fault of Paul Lambert. At least he wanted the bloody job at Stoke!

January is a graveyard for moving clubs. Rarely do you see top players or managers swap clubs in this month. Clubs are halfway through the season and probably still looking up or down with fear or hope, and you simply don’t see the deals that you do in the summer. That’s why the timing of sacking Mark Hughes was so critical – we limited and narrowed the field massively to those candidates not good enough to be in a job, or those who are doing well enough in a job that their employers wouldn’t let the leave. The field available to us wasn’t as extensive as it could or should have been. That’s why I believe that Hughes should have been relieved of his duties – and sincerely thanked for his work – after walking around a 19/20ths empty bet365 Stadium after the Arsenal game last May.

But we can look into the why’s and wherefores all we want – it does no good. All we can deal with is the here and now, and where we go from here.

As stated above, at least Paul Lambert actually wanted to manage Stoke City. Others didn’t, and they can sod off and rot in their respective roles for all I care. And whilst his managerial pedigree might not be what Stokies wanted or expected from our new manager, all we can do at the magazine is wish him well and sincerely hope he does an amazing job for us.

Support, for me, is unconditional. I supported Stoke just as vociferously under Alan Ball as I did with Lou Macari in charge; and as fervently with Joe Jordan as I did with Tony Pulis. Why? Because I can’t affect in any way, shape or form who our manager is. So, I have two choices – I back whoever is in charge or I don’t. Each and every new Stoke City manager has my backing and always will do.

For me, not supporting Stoke City at full tilt isn’t an option. At the end of the season all I can do is look myself in the supporting mirror and know I’ve backed the lads during matches. And by god, do they need backing until mid-May.

The big word today has been ‘underwhelmed’ and I’d be a liar to say I was any different. But wasn’t that the key emotion and feeling associated when Messrs Pulis and Hughes were first appointed? Whilst both had their faults, between them they got us promoted, to an FA Cup final, into Europe, three consecutive 9th place finishes, League Cup semi final….and so many great memories along the way. Surely that is why we have to give Paul Lambert a fair crack of the whip and our full backing.

Lambert has inherited a mess, and a side plummeting towards relegation. I don’t think he can manage our squad any worse than how it’s been managed this season, I really don’t. All I want him to do is get us organised and get us motivated. As I’ve always said – THAT is what I want from a Stoke team. if he does that I’ll be happy and we’ll have a chance.

I won’t lie: Yes I’m anxious, yes I’m a bit angry, and yes I’m a bit confused – but I am a Stoke City fan, and I will be there on Saturday doing my level best to spur the lads on in a massive, huge game. Yes, we’ll have a moan after a game and in the week, but once that turnstile clicks on Saturday then so does a device in my heart and soul that makes me give unconditional backing to The Potters. And I would love everyone to do the same.

I’ve just watched our 3-0 defeat tonight, and my overriding emotion is pride. Pride in our magnificent support, and pride that our new manager heard his name booming out from the away end. That will think so much of us as a support. That is Stoke City. That is what we do. That is what we must do.

Call me a happy clapper, I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is getting relegated and us losing our status, Stokies losing their jobs and the local economy losing much needed revenue. Surely now is the time we see what we are all about – both on and off the pitch? Making Wembley shake when you’re 5-0 up is easy. But don’t we now need to put our big coats on, tuck our chin(s) in, and walk with a renewed vigour and purpose to the ground, to give our superb vocal support to those in the famous stripes that need it?

I don’t see this as the time for questions or recriminations. I see this as a 15 game season within a season. I see this as one of the biggest four months in the history of our beloved club. And I see our support rising to the challenge, yet again. If we can sing Joe bloody Jordan’s name for 90 minutes as we did in his first game against Leicester then we can do the same for Paul Lambert. He deserves and needs our support, as he is the new manager of Stoke City.

Time will judge Paul Lambert. And we really hope it judges him really well. Come the end of the season, let’s not have national media tossers pointing the judgemental  fingers at our support and blaming us in any way, shape or form. Remember The Bearpit days? How ace were they, eh? Let’s get that back pronto. It would be great to hear full houses roaring the lads on every home game, and whilst we know that some Stokies are hurting right now, we’d love to see it happen.

This article isn’t to give our opinion on how Stokies should support our club. How patronising and up-ourselves would that be? No, we have no right to do that and we won’t ever do that! We understand frustrations and we are frustrated ourselves. After all, we all support in our own different ways. I’m just outlining what I’m going to do and how I will support the club and team. I fully respect anyone who chooses a different path. This isn’t a call to arms. This is just my own Stoke-supporting manifesto.

Stoke City need, want, and should get our support. And when it gets hard, really hard, we remember those two simply beautiful lines from 1972….

Every step along the way

By your side we’ll always stay.

Aren’t we needed at their side folks, right now? Let’s have it Stokies. Let’s ****** have it! It’s our club – let’s show everyone just how much we love it.