The Potters are hardly new to early elimination from the FA Cup – so why the furore around last weekend’s loss to Staffordshire rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers?
According to some outlets, the outcome of a Wolves victory were barely worth mentioning. That in itself might be worth analysing further – Wolves have, afterall, accrued more points on the road this season in the league than they have at Molineux.
Stoke are hardly in the richest vein of form at the moment, either.
The angst among the Stoke faithful comes seemingly from further afield – and the Wolves game was just the catalyst some of the arguments needed for a change in direction.
With rumours of Bojan and Giannelli Imbula storming out of the Bet365 Stadium following their half-time replacements, suggestions of manager Hughes having ‘lost’ the dressing room appear to be gathering momentum.
But they are just that, rumours and suggestions.
In reality, the club haven’t commented on the incidents. No players have commented on it either. And, as was seen a few years ago with Pulis and ‘Towelgate’, these things have a habit of reaching mainstream media pretty quickly through “anonymous sources”.
I’m a big Stoke fan – I can’t deny that, I won’t hide it. But the Wolves result is hardly the embarrassment it’s being made out to be.
This wasn’t Nuneaton or Telford. This was Wolves, a team 24 places below us in the football pyramid.
At present, we have no leadership – certainly on the pitch, at least.
We have a manager who seems unsure who his best players are, or what his best formation is.
We have ex-players criticising training methodologies – and being backed up by on-the-pitch results.
The team lack confidence and belief.
We have strikers who look afraid of shooting, defenders who look afraid of tackling, and a midfield who look confused as to who should be supporting attacks and who should be sitting in deeper to protect the defence.
Will all of these issues really be resolved by signing a couple of new players this January?