Stoke City legend Lou Macari has warned against complacency when The Potters face Middlesbrough on Saturday and has asked supporters to retain a sense of perspective following the club’s four-goal defeat against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
The 67-year-old had two separate spells in charge of Stoke during the 1990’s and remains a popular and well-respected figure in The Potteries. He told the Stoke Sentinel that the current first team squad will face a more difficult challenge than some may think when they host struggling Middlesbrough at the weekend.
“[The] next game is at home to Middlesbrough. It doesn’t look like a bad fixture when you want to bounce back from a 4-0 hiding at Tottenham. My only word of warning is that Middlesbrough’s need is far greater than Stoke’s down at the bottom … if they have anything about them, [they] will surely start to pull their finger out sooner or later to try and save the club.”
Macari also called for supporters to retain a sense of perspective following their heavy defeat at White Hart Lane last weekend.
“I know a lot of fans are already calling for changes. But I’m not sure there will be many. I know it’s never nice to be four down by half time, but I wasn’t that shocked by the result itself because I always feared Spurs would click into gear. The gap between the big six and the rest is bigger than ever and Stoke have certainly discovered as much this season. They simply cannot compete financially and results are bearing that out.”
Ibrahim Afellay has ended the uncertainty surrounding his future by signing a new contract with Stoke City.
The Dutch international joined The Potters in the summer of 2015 on a free transfer and cemented himself as a key component of Mark Hughes’ side during his first season with the club. However, the midfielder picked up a serious knee ligament injury towards the end of his debut campaign in England which has seen the former Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven playmaker sidelined for almost eight months.
With his current deal set to expire in the summer there were questions about whether the 30-year-old would be released at the end of the season or if he would be able to recover from injury and prove his fitness. Despite these reservations Afellay returned to action in December and has now made ten appearances this term, convincing Mark Hughes to hand him a new deal.
The Dutchman told official Stoke City website that he was delighted to extend his stay at the Bet365 Stadium.
“I’m very happy. From the first day I came to the club I felt at home and I’m looking forward to the future. I hope we can continue to progress and develop. Stoke City is a great club. The way the fans support us is special – they are always behind us, especially at away games – and the people at the club are like a family.”
Afellay has made 46 appearances in total since joining Stoke in 2015, scoring three goals, and the midfielder is determined to put his injury issues behind him and look towards the future.
“The injury is all in the past now. I think I’ve showed that I’m back in business and I’m just looking forward now, working hard every day and trying to make the best of everything.”
Stoke City defender Erik Pieters insists that he and his fellow team mates will need to take a hard look at themselves following the 4-0 defeat at White Hart Lane last weekend.
The Potters were blown away by Tottenham Hotspur in an opening 45 minutes that saw the home team score four goals courtesy of a Dele Alli and a hat-trick from England striker Harry Kane. However, Pieters admitted that the Stoke performance was simply not good enough and told the official Stoke City website that the team need to bounce back when they face Middlesbrough on Saturday.
“I think we must forget about this game really, really quickly and focus on next weekend because it simply wasn’t good enough and we need to rectify this result quickly. If you play like this in the Premier League then you may as well stay at home. [We need to] have a very hard look in the mirror at ourselves.”
The Dutch defender also conceded that there were few positives to take out of the contest and that an improved second half performance from Stoke was the result of their hosts cruising through the remainder of the game.
“The game was beyond us at half time, which allowed them to go easier in the second half. We can try and take a positive from that, but it’s only because Spurs took their foot off the gas.”
The Bimingham Mail have hailed West Bromwich Albion chairman John Williams as a master of negotiation for the role that he played in securing an initial £12,000,000 transfer fee for controversial striker Saido Berahino.
The 23-year-old rose to prominence at The Hawthorns before falling out of favour over the last eighteen months due to issues with his attitude, fitness levels and an FA suspension for recreational drug use. However, despite Berahino’s misdemeanours former Blackburn Rovers supremo Williams was able to sell the striker to Premier League rivals Stoke City for a fee that could eventually rise up to £15,000,000.
The Birmingham Mail have described the deal, from a West Bromwich Albion perspective, as being “a masterstroke in bartering” considering Berahino had not played for four months, had not scored for almost a year and was set to be out of contract in the summer.
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