Stoke City And That

Not Gareth Barry

Kevin Gameiro’s waiting, talking Italian.

Well, more likely talking French, because the alleged Everton target is in fact from France. So it all kind of makes sense.

A story that appears to have originated in the Daily Mirror and ‘spread like runny shite’, as some ming ex-workmate used to say, has David Moyes poised like a cartoon cat with an axe, ready to pounce on a number of transfer targets once they poke their twitching noses out of the hole in the skirting board that is the January transfer window.

What’s the cheese? That’s what you are asking. What’s the cheese in this scenario? Well, the cheese that is meant to be tempting Graneiro from Paris Saint-Germain and another striker, Wissam Ben Yedder from Toulouse, is the £7 million that Galatasaray are said to be offering for Johnny Heitinga.

And filling the gap left by last season’s player of the season will be Joleon Lescott, returning on loan from Manchester City. Allegedly.

Given that Moyes is notoriously reluctant to impart even the smallest nugget of information to the upstanding men of the local and national press we can only guess that he overdid the Aftershocks on a Christmas night out before laying bare his convoluted transfer plans to any fucker at the bar who would listen.

‘…And then, and this is the friggin’ genius bit, you’ll love this, we’ll just get scabby-head back and them scruffs will pay most of his wages…Voi-fucking-la! Do you like me cardy? Honestly, New Look. No, seriously… AND THE BOYS OF THE NYPD CHOIR ARE SINGING BROADWAY DAVE…’

Before the rip-roaring excitement of the January transfer dealings though, there is the more prosaic matter of playing some association football matches, starting with Saturday’s visit to the Britannia Stadium, the charming home of Stoke City Football Club.

Their manager, Tony Pulis, looks like one of those fellas in the gym changies who cocks one leg up on the bench and over-enthusiastically dries his undercarriage while looking his mate straight in the eye and moaning about problems with contractors going over budget. He’d then leave loads of talc everywhere, the cunt.

Anyway, him, he’s been complaining about referees meting out unfair treatment to his players because of their reputations, hence Stoke finding themselves at the bottom of the Fair Play League. Obviously, another way of looking at that is they are in fact top of the ‘Horrible Dirty Bastards Table’. To put that into a little bit of context, West Ham are next, and they are also managed by someone whose teams – rightly or wrongly, but mostly rightly, let’s be honest – are always thought to be ‘a bit naughty’.

In short, stop being so disingenuous – you know perfectly well why your sides pick up loads of cards.

In Stoke’s favour, they do all the legitimate physical stuff really well. They play to their strengths, put teams under immense pressure in their own box and Pulis gets even players who are used to more refined surroundings to buy into his team ethos. That’s great management.

The reason Stoke don’t receive as much praise as he thinks they deserve though is because there is always a feeling that they are looking to gain advantage by outright intimidation, especially early in games when the referee is less likely to get his cards out. It’s then that they leave their foot in, go through the back of people and generally try to put the thought in the minds of the opposition’s creative players that if they linger on the ball they are likely to get their Achilles pulped.

You can almost guarantee that within the first 10 minutes of this game on Saturday someone will clatter Steven Pienaar before immediately leaping to their feet, screaming at him to get up and then miming a dive. They really are horrible shitehawks in that respect.

They can play a bit though, especially at home where they have conceded only two league goals this season. That’s some record.

Everton need to be bold and get the ball down and play. If Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic start to show a bit more savvy, come short and hold on to the ball on the edge of the box better than they have they will win loads of free kicks against Stoke’s physically imposing but often overeager centre-halves. If the Everton forwards stand stationary in the area though, just waiting for crosses, they will be playing into the home side’s hands.

At the other end, well, you just have to hope that the referee gives Tim Howard a bit of help standing up to the buffeting he is undoubtedly in for. Because, let’s face it, if we know the Everton keeper gets queasy at the thought of anyone invading his personal space, you can bet a shattered eye-socket that Pulis is well aware of it too.

Go get ’em, tigers.