Stoke City this week completed the double-signing of Robert Huth and Tuncay Sanli from Middlesbrough. As a Boro fan, I thought I’d run the rule over what these additions will mean to the Potters. I can see ups and downs in both signings.
First to Robert Huth. I have to admit, I love him as a player. He’s a very solid, no-nonsense kind of center-back, seemingly unflappable. He may not have a ton of pace, but his positioning more than compensates for that. He’s been nicknamed the Berlin Wall by the local media (with his partner, David Wheater, as the Redcar Rock).
His achillies heel is, well, his achillies heel. And his ankle. And his foot. Although Huth had a good run in the back-half of last season, Huth only played in 31 Premier League games in the two-and-a-half years before that because of a series of niggles with just about everything below the knee.
Hopefully his run of fitness will continue and if it does, I think he’ll be an excellent buy for Stoke and a hit with the fans.
Tuncay is a more nuanced addition to Stoke’s squad. Let’s face it, the team doesn’t have a great reputation for flowing counter-attacks and intricate flicks and touches – which are precisely the areas where Tuncay excels.
There are two possiblilites here though: Tuncay might be just the kind of player to benefit from the loose balls and knocks-downs that are the by-product of an arial bombardment. Or, Pulis might be ready to mix-up the route-one stuff for a style that’s a bit easier on the eye. I understand that Stoke played more on the ground in the Championship and last season was more a means to an end (i.e. 12th place).
Tuncay quickly became a fan-favorite at the Riverside and the Stoke fans will appreciate the passion and commitment he displays. Things soured a little last season – that commitment was questionable for a few months in the middle of the year, and he was the creative force in a team that only scored 28 goals. But, like Huth, he had a good second-half to the season and a good start to this one.
As long as Tuncay isn’t a complete misfit in the Stoke gameplan, I think he’ll be another good addition to the team.
I’m sure Stoke’s biggest fear is “doing a Reading” (i.e. failing miserably after a terrific first season in the Prem) and these two signings will only help prevent history from repeating.
About the author: Phil McThomas runs CleverFootball.com, a site that aggregates news from all over the web, just for football fans. You can get your Stoke news and your Middlesbrough news and, well, you get the picture.