The Opposition View - Stoke
1) Tony Pulis doesn`t really get enough recognition sometimes for the job he has done at Stoke, have you ever been worried about him moving on?
It's an argument that always seems to raise it's head. Pulis splits the fans with his style of play, and somewhat weird tactics and team selection. I for one always argue that I can't see another manager being able to come in and get what Pulis gets out of the current crop of players. Only a person that has a similar style to Pulis would work, e.g. Allardyce. But i just wouldn't see the point of that move. I do get worried that if Pulis were to go tomorrow, we could go down the same route as Charlton did after they lost Curbishley.
2) Who are the player/s in form ahead of Saturday's game?
Unfortunately, it's none of our attackers. Our defence, especially Ryan Shawcross has been on top form recently, but our goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has been taking all the headlines with some sublime performances of late, increasing the growing interest for our number 1.
3) Do you think Stoke will be solid mid table come the end of the season, or flirting around European places/ bottom end of the table?
If you asked me a few weeks ago, when we were 10 games unbeaten and had a couple of games that looked winnable coming up, I couldn't look any further than flirting with Europe, but after some woeful performances, it looks like we're destined for mid table medocricy, but saying that we have a favourable run coming up at home, with yourselves, Aston Villa, West Brom and Norwich all winnable games at the Brit, so our season could still yet be resurrected.
4) What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team that you have noticed over the past couple of games?
Our strengths are defiantly our organisation, hard work and shape. We don't really win games, we grind out results with our stubbornness and break teams down, especially at home with our constant in your face style.
Our weaknesses are the fact that we don't create enough chances and therefore don't score enough goals. Pulis loves to play with a rigid system and seems to put shackles on our move creative players in N'Zonzi and Adam. Adam defiantly needs to play in a deeper role, so that he can dictate the tempo of the game.
5) Are you satisfied with Stoke`s January Transfer window dealings?
Personally, I think we had an awful window, and have weakened ourselves. Matthew Upson left the Brit on loan, so therefore we have no recognisable centre half as cover. We have been crying out for a left back for years, but once again Pulis missed out. I think he decided against it because of the imminent return of Marc Wilson, but the Irishman could break down in his recovery from a broken leg, and we will be very short in defence. I think a striker was also needed in the window to freshen up our stale attack.
Also would have liked to see Peter Crouch leave, not because I dislike the player, but we are not going recuperate anywhere near the £7 million rumoured that QPR were willing to pay for the 32-year-old.
Jack Butland is a great signing, and defiantly one for the future, but his arrivial seems to mean that Begovic will be on to pastures new in the summer.
Brek Shea also looks a good signing BUT it's another player that we have brought that doesn't seem like he will make an impact until next season, the American hasn't played since August after breaking his foot, and won't be PULIS fit for at least another month.
6) What Reading player do you rate the most and why?
Always rated Pogrebnyak, as I would think he would do really well at the Britannia Stadium. In fact, you could even say that with his height, strength and heading ability, he was tailor made for Stoke. Also like Jimmy Kebe, and think he would do well down stoke. His pace, strength and general wing work would be welcomed at the Britannia.
7) Who do you reckon will start and what sort of shape will you have?
Wilkinson Shawcross (C) Huth Cameron
Walters N'Zonzi Whelan Etherington
I would eat my hat if that's not the team Pulis starts with.
8) What's your prediction for the game?
We need a good result to try and get back some of the wayward fans, but don't think it's going be easy, if you get an early goal, I think some of the less educated fans will become a bit disgruntled and could work in your favour, but I think we'll just have enough at the weekend.
Stoke 3 (Adam, Crouch, Jones) Reading 1 (Le Fondre)