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Newcastle United And Stoke City, Two Sides That Won't Go Down

Stoke City's Kenwyne Jones (C) celebrates scoring against Newcastle United during their English Premier League soccer match in Newcastle, northern England September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)
Stoke continued their recent revival with a hard fought win over Newcastle today, but the game will have been a learning curve for Potters boss Tony Pulis who had to switch back to his old ways after a poor first half.

The Potters boss comes under criticism for his long ball tactics that offend most eyes. But today he opted to leave out long throw king Rory Delap, instead opting to play a side which to its credit opted to play a style that wasn’t as uncompressing as Stokes usual approach.

But the change didn’t work and with Stoke trailing 1-0 at the break it wasn’t long before Pulis opted to revert back to the tactics he knew best. The result saw a complete change in the flow of the game as Delap and fellow substitute Ricardo Fuller set about reversing the deficit. They did exactly that as the visitors came from behind to record an impressive 2-1 win. The result was enough to lift them out of the bottom three, and complete an impressive week.

You have to feel that Pulis wanted to adopt a different style, and not rely so much on the tactics that have been so often slated by the media. But with them quite evidently not working, he deserves praise for accepting that a change was needed, and that his old way was the best way to pick up a much needed result.

But for Newcastle there will be great disappointment that they couldn’t build on their first half lead, and go on to continue what has been a fairly impressive return to life in the Premier League. But I still think they have easily shown enough in their opening few games to suggest that they shouldn’t have a problem come May.

At the moment they are just struggling to make the most out of good spells in games. Look at Stoke today, they had a good spell, scored twice, and took three points. That is the sort of clinical nature that is needed for success in the Premier League. While they do have plenty of Premier League experience, the players in the side who haven’t been there before need to learn this quickly.

This will come though, and as I said I can’t see the Toon getting pulled in to any relegation fight. The same can quite comfortably be said for Stoke who after a slow start are quickly improving. If either of these two sides struggle this season, something will have gone horribly wrong.

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  1. Adam

    September 27, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I agree with the article, that both teams will stay up this season. Stoke play good defense and it should be more of the same (past 2 seasons) for them I would think- even if it is difficult on the eye at times. Newcastle on the other hand has been amazingly inconsistent. They play like world beaters one minute and the next they are falling apart, loosing successive home fixtures to Stoke and Blackpool- no offense to either team but those are the games that you need points from to stay/ thrive in the EPL.

  2. Gag

    September 27, 2010 at 6:01 am

    What a rubbish article; Stoke reverted to the most defensive lineup I’ve seen in a couple of years. The fact he left Delap out wasn’t a sign he wanted to play less long ball, but that he didn’t intend to even try to score in the first half/part of the game before he made his subs. To his credit its a tactic that would have worked if not for Huth’s ill advised obstruction in the box. However, its a terrible spectacle, and I’m a Stokie, it must be even worse for third party spectators! Just wish Tony would show a tiny little bit more confidence in the ability of his players.

  3. Jim

    September 26, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Did you watch the first half of this game? Stoke played not to lose, a style that was designed to clutter up the middle of the field and prevent Newcastle from doing anything. It worked (except for a freak penalty in the box by Huth) but at the cost of having no offense. Jones was up top by himself and had to do all the work to get any offense going. Walters was just underneath but wasn’t able to link up with him. It was even less of an offensive strategy then one that relies upon set pieces.
    A few minutes after the beginning of the second half Fuller came in for a midfielder (Diao) and the game immediately opened up for Stoke.
    Pulis could have gone into this game with Gudjohnsen or Fuller in the starting lineup next to Jones. And possibly Tuncay and Wilson in the midfield. He didn’t. Now that would have been a try for a different style of play.
    So why did Pulis play not to lose at Newcastle?

    • Stoke Fan

      September 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm

      Typically in road matches Pulis puts a very defensive side out there to try and get into the half 0-0.. Stoke’s MO in the first two seasons is that they’ve gotten a lot of tough road draws. His side is still offensively limited.. They score more than 2 goals maybe twice a season so he typically tries to keep games low scoring by grinding out the first half.

      I’d also add that Stoke has changed their style recently. When Pennant and Etherington are on the wings they play a lot more possession and work the ball around. If they put Tuncay in the midfield and put Gudjohnsen up top they’d probably look totally different. However, Gudjohnsen isn’t fit to play more than 15 mins and Tuncay appears to still be in doghouse. Pennant is hurt and they played a Carling Cup tie with quite a few starters on Wednesday. As it was there were a fair amount of second stringers out there.

      Honestly there really isn’t any reason for Stoke to change their style. Jones is one of the best players in the EPL with his head and he may score 15+ goals. With that kind of production up top(there leading striker scored I believe 4 goals last season) this is a fringy Top 10 side.

      However, Pulis didn’t play this style in the championship, nor were his teams known for it in other stops. Simply put, he has played the style that maximized the success his roster could have in the premier league. With the signings over the past 2 seasons this is a deeper side capable of playing a more aesthetic brand of football. When Delap moves on after this season and when Shawcross is sold to Man U I suspect the money reaped will be used to grab a more two-dimensional midfielder than Whitehead and some athletic right and left backs.

      From the beginning the plan has been to stay in the EPL 3 years and then move on to the next phase with the increased revenue.

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