There really was no doubt that our honourable local owners would make the decision to let Mark Hughes remain as our coach supreme for yet another season.
Yes, we retained our Premier status, but let’s be honest by the ‘skin of our teeth’ as that home win against relegation finalists Hull City was so crucial it took two original Pulis signings to ‘save our bacon’ as they were so up for it that Stoke could have easily been beaten especially how they waltzed out onto the pitch second half giving the impression of not having a care in the world that got up supporters noses that much it made many seethe with anger , myself included and become so loudly vocal that my voice was almost packing in.
This season will have to be extra special for SCFC or else the Championship certainly beckons and it will be deservedly so this time. There is absolutely no room for error this season because trying to get promotion from that league back to the Premier at the first attempt is reminiscent of Arthur not being able to pull Excalibur from the stone. Newcastle are to be hugely applauded and for Brighton it is like all their Christmas present wish list being granted for life.
A mass clear out and reappraisal of the playing staff was the number one summer priority for Mark Hughes. Forget your expensive holiday abroad you haven’t even been worthy of a weekend in Skegnesss or Burslem for that matter, in my opinion.
Out of all the MH signings and wasteful buys, the top prize has to go to imbula for being as an ineffective player to compare to the usefulness of a nine pound note, and it quite worryingly as it looks like Berinhno will follow suit. Bojan was another hallowed footballing god who would grace us with his divine presence and bring excelled Premier glory to the Potteries. Instead, an he’s gone on loan! Shaqiri the superstar one-man micro soccer sensation became SCFC’s answer to Anderton, ending up as a walking sick note.
The success stories of MH’s footsteps in the weird and wacky lower Premier league last minute bargain bucket transfer market have been Messrs Grant and Allen but the latter often looking tired and worn out unable like the remainder of our first eleven to keep pace.
Then there’s our good old top notch striker Marco who missed more scoring opportunities than he converted. Who also is a specialist remonstrator who spends more time on the deck arguing the toss with an official that can’t give one let alone have witnessed the injustice that took place. All resulting, voila, in a usually dire and dangerous goal scoring opportunity by the opposition who have, by now, gained crucial ground by one player not bothering to at least try to win the ball back in his possession.
Which brings me to the subject matter name of the game: to score goals in the opposition’s net making sure that the tally is more than those that end up in ours, which is ideally none conceded at all. Quite a simple task for everyone to understand, you would conclude?
Last season’s goal scoring tally was, put simply, abysmal as was our defensive record. Both were dreadful especially considering the considerable investment bequeathed to Mark Hughes by the Coates family then ridiculously squandered in such an inefficient and ineffective manner.
It is clear that the midfield is more than amply covered almost to the point of saturation so it is blatantly obvious where concentrated quality investment is needed: attack and defence, the two extremes.
A couple of proven Premier strikers are an urgent necessity along with the complete rebuild of our fragile defence, an area in which we were previously renown and feared especially during the Pulis years.
Whilst our passing and possession game, which was a new revolutionary system has gone AWOL, and was pleasing on the eye and relatively initially effective it has not fed the ball to the front then the strikers have just not been capable of putting the ball in the net. Our defence has been an shambles at times when it has alway been strong, effective and protective but now, weak.
The academy? Tom Edwards has broken through,but we need more. I feel that there are an abundance of players in our academy that ‘fit that bill’ who should be given first team experience accompanied in their respective roles by a seasoned first teamer to teach them ‘the ropes’ especially, initially, for the last three penultimate home matches so as to ‘ween’ them in the Premier level culture. I’m convinced that this is the first step in the way forward for the club without wasting millions on players that break the bank and are ridiculously costly on the wage bill with no proven value for money let alone the lack of cost effectiveness with performance poor and not impressive even in the slightest meagre manner.
On the field of play, why so much passing back? This is a recipe for disaster. When the ball is in the goalkeeper’s possession and no compulsory goal kick, why waste the ball by a drop kick that ends up in anybody’s possession, and usually for us in the opposition’s. Why not roll out the ball to the defence and get it upfield and in our permanent possession then on and into the opposition box where our strikers lie in wait to put it into the net.
Is this so hard to digest? Also, use some of the Pulis playing attributes such as long throw-ins and effective corner techniques. At present, we have no player who is capable of an even slightly effective corner. We have gone from being a powerful physical team who had a strong effective defence that scored regularly from set pieces to one that continually concedes from set pieces.
The general calibre of player has also changed significantly under the change of tenure strangely mirroring it even to the point of lack in
If an honest, open appraisal of our competitors is carried out then the investment in youth and early transfer activities have proved to bring stability and success. West Bromwich Albion, as a club that mirror ours, virtually swapped places with us this season, cause for thought eh?
Time is now not on our side with us gradually getting more left behind each season taking back step after back step. We cannot afford any hiccups this coming season especially relying on compatriots’ results to dictate our continuity in the top flight as I do not fancy our chances on an immediate bounce back from the Championship and furthermore do not relish a return to attending matches at Molineux.
At the time of writing this article,it was nearly one month prior to the impending commencement of our 10th season in the Premiership, and as usual in accordance to the Hughes management culture and tenure he has not made any major inroads to really strengthening and revamping the playing squad to deal with the vigour’s and challenges of a new season in the top flight in addition to ensuring that this forthcoming season does not unfold similar to the last whereby relegation was a strong possibility.
The sale of Arnautovic is no surprise and in some aspects, a relief as face it he’s hardly set the world on fire, has he? The sale of Walters has left a bad taste in some supporters’ mouths as he definitely has been a rock-solid stalwart that. The same can be said about Whelan.
The signing of two young talented players to our squad can hopefully gel with Ramadan and Shaquiri to bring some threat to our overall game and be complemented more evenly on the pitch whilst providing a threat to every opposition.
Inject the fuel, Mark now, and spark our resurgence for the sake of the club, the Coates family and most importantly for the fans as our wrath knows no bounds! And our Chairman will be well aware of that as, after all, attendances fill the coffers: lower league = lower attendances, a simple business equation that should be urgently adhered to as SKY parachute money will not last long.