View From The Potteries
Earlier this week Vital Blackpool and Vital Stoke exchanged views ahead of Saturday's game.
You can read Vital Blackpool Co-Editor Eamonn Moore's thoughts here, whilst below we have the views of Vital Stoke's Co-Editor Ryan Kalisz...
Hi Ryan, how long have you supported Stoke for and what is your most memorable Potters moment?
I've been a Stoke fan for a number of years and there have certainly been some memorable moments along the way.
One of my favourite memories was the match against Leicester City at home during the 07/08 season. The Potters were fighting for Premier League promotion, whereas the Foxes (coincidentally managed by Ian Holloway at the time) were fighting for survival, so an exciting fixture with all to play for.
It was a rather nervous game for everyone, with wide shots and clumsy tackles, but when the news filtered through about Ipswich beating Hull to guarantee a 2nd place finish for us, deliria just wouldn`t describe the celebrations.
In contrast, Leicester heard their fate sealed as Southampton's win sent them down, so the tissues were out for them. It's never nice to see fans of a relegated club turn on the waterworks, but at the time I didn't care, because we were going up!
A pitch invasion couldn't be stopped, and as you do in the heat of excitement, you whip out your camera phone and sprint on screaming! Celebrations of "WE ARE GOING UP" bellowed around the ground.
What a day and what an absolute memory to keep, especially if you've videoed it! I've still got it on my computer... somewhere.
The last few years have obviously been great for Stoke, just how good a job has Tony Pulis done?
Tony has done a terrific job as our manager, not just by getting us promoted against the odds, but also keeping us up with respectable finishes.
Although he wasn't a popular choice admittedly, and occasionally is criticised for his defensive style, he has become an elite manager to fans who have compared him to the legendary Tony Waddington, who won the League Cup in 1972. Long may his reign as our manager continue.
With signings like Tuncay, Pulis is obviously trying to kick you onto the next level. Do you think he can take you there, or does your style of football restrict you?
Like I said Pulis has done a fantastic job and I do believe that he can take this club further.
He won't jump ahead though, he is a level-headed manager with his feet planted firmly into the ground, so there is no risk of signing players here, there and everywhere to please the fans.
He will scout for the best quality, who will best suit the club, for the best price. Tuncay is one example of our great buys, and so are Mathew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant.
As for Pulis' style of football, critics (including Arsene Wenger) have said we're a very physical side with little quality. Well in my opinion, we get the job done and as more quality players filter through, our passing game improves further. We are capable of creating dangerous attacks with clever play, especially over the past couple of seasons. I feel we have bags of potential, and if we continue to gradually improve, then Tony will take us to bigger places I am sure.
Would it be fair to say that Matthew Etherington is your main dangerman?
Yes he is. He has pace and agility, with the ability to turn the defender and whip it into the box or have a shot himself. Obviously, I don't want to be giving too much away here.
You're sat in 10th at the moment; is that a fair reflection of your season so far?
10th is a very respectable position and although I'm pleased, I can't help but want to grumble. Luck and decisions haven't really gone our way and it's frustrating to see perfectly good goals disallowed, stone wall penalties ignored etc.
Of course harping on about referees will bore others, and in all fairness referees aren't hawk eyed with x-ray vision, but as a fan I feel I have to point it out.
Had certain decisions gone in our favour, such as the equaliser at Tottenham, the blatant handball on the line at Sunderland, and Gary Neville's sure second bookable offence along with other decisions, we may be higher up with more points.
Where do you think you'll finish come May?
I'd like to aim for anywhere that's at least one above last year's finish of 11th. If we can do that then yet again we will have improved by one place. So perhaps where we are now?
The transfer window opens in a couple of weeks - where do you think Pulis needs to strengthen?
We need [Jermaine] Pennant to become permanent, so I'd want Pulis to pencil a contract to see him stay at Stoke. He has proved to be a pivotal player since joining on loan from Real Zaragoza, and rumours have it that he is very keen to stay with us, so let's get him on board Tony!
If we were to look for a replacement for Rory Delap, I'd like to go for Morten Gamst Pedersen of Blackburn. He has a huge throw (although not as flat as Rory's) and he his very skilled with the ball at his feet, scoring 4 goals so far this season. But the likelihood of Sam Allardyce letting him leave Ewood Park, especially as he signed a new 4 year contract in May, is very slim.
An all-round player such as Jamie O'Hara would be a great addition to our squad.
O'Hara was outstanding for Portsmouth while he was on loan there, achieving their Player of the Year award as he played in defence, midfield and even up front, before returning to Tottenham when Pompey were relegated.
Games are what he needs, especially as he wants to play for Republic of Ireland, and we would certainly give him games.
But whoever Tony sees fit to bring in, is fine by me. I have faith in him as a manager and I trust his judgement when it comes to transfers.
What do you know about Blackpool and the way we play?
I haven't seen a full 90 minutes of your current squad (yet), but from what I have seen, you have great passing ability and can inject sudden pace when moving in for the attack.
You also have great resilience making you a very competitive team, which a couple of big stars have underestimated this season.
Ian Holloway is a great manager and it shows that he has drilled his tactics and style of football into your players, and they will look to use that against us.
Finally, a prediction?
You are capable of causing an upset on your day, but I think we can at least put you off your game.
If the defensive partnership of Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross is reunited in the centre, with a fit Andy Wilkinson back on the right, then our defence will be tough for you to pass.
Also if Pennant is back on the right wing, with Etherington on the left, then the race is on against your defenders.
I predict a scrappy game with tackles flying in, and fights for possession, but I reckon that 3 points to us could be in the bag if we're up for a battle.
2-1 is my score, with a last minute goal clinching it for us.
Here's to a juicy game between two great teams! Good luck to proving me wrong Tangerines!