Date:Thursday May 12 2011
Vital Manchester City is delighted to bring readers our biggest Q&A ever ahead of Saturday`s FA Cup final with members from Stoke City 'Oatcake Fanzine'. Part 2.
Such was the response we've decided to break the article into several segments.
Part one can be found by clicking here.
Oatcake Fanzine can be found at oatcakefanzine.com
VMC: Stoke City FC has reached their first ever FA Cup Final. What does it mean to you as a supporter?
Tom: Where to start!! It's difficult to put it into words right now, it took a while for the Semi-Final to sink in (I wasn't around to witness the Stoke team of the 70s) so that was my first taste of a big occasion at Wembley. It took even longer for it to sink in when we won 5-0, it felt very surreal at times.
This final is a massive occasion for all connected with Stoke City Football Club and I just hope we go out there and do ourselves justice. We get a lot of unwarranted criticism about our style of play and although we do play direct at times, we do mix it up and utilise our wingers to great success. We do have quality in the team and I hope that shines through on the day.
Paul: Wembley and the FA Cup mean a lot - 148 years is quite a while! The competition has been devalued a little but we will treasure the occasion - as I'm sure will your fans.
VMC: Tony Pulis has had two managerial stints at Stoke. How do you rate him?
Tom: He's had a great deal of criticism in the past, especially for the Binary Season (1-0, 0-0, 0-1...) but he's very single minded when it comes to critics and he gets on with things the way he thinks best, he's not one to bow to outside pressure.
His record throughout his career, whilst never glittering, does show he knows his trade and he has the honour of never being relegated in almost 20 years of management, which is pretty impressive when you look at some of the clubs and situations he has been in.
A lot of people said he'd never adapt to the Premier League and that he was a lower league Manager that 'wheeled and dealed' and got the best out what he had at his disposal. He has proven however, that given the finances, he can bring in a better calibre of player and push the club on to new levels. We were written off as no-hopers 3 seasons ago yet 3 seasons later we are still here, staying up comfortably (12th in our 1st season, 11th in the next and currently sitting 10th) and now an FA Cup final to boot.
Tony Pulis deserves massive credit for what he's achieved at our club.
Paul: Tony Pulis is a top man. I have always rated him. I like his personal style. He won't be messed about and it has paid off big time for us. His football style is where he receives criticism from foes and friends alike. However Pulis is starting to change Stoke's football - now playing two wingers though we will never match Barcelona lol. Despite the criticism Stoke under Pulis do like to play to the rules - ok a little barging from the likes of Huth but you will never see a Stoke player trying to get someone sent off - TP is old school - this is a man's game - hard but fair
VMC: Where will you be watching the FA Cup Final?
Tom: From Wembley of course. We are the 12th Man.
Paul: Cup Final - behind the goal at Wembley.
VMC: What is the club, if anything doing to mark the occasion? For example, are they putting on large screens and showing the final at the Britannia Stadium etc?
Tom: I believe the club are putting a screen on at The Brit as there will be many fans that are unable to get tickets. I know a lot of Stokies will be travelling to London without tickets though to soak up the atmosphere of the occasion.
I assume we will do an Open Top Bus Tour to parade the trophy afterwards too.
Paul: I heard that Stoke may have a big screen but I imagine that any other events will be left to the end of the season - except for the open top bus of course!
VMC: The semi-final result at Wembley against Bolton was truly amazing. Did Stoke play above expectations or were Bolton like rabbits dazzled in a car headlights?
Tom: I never expected that result in a million years; I don't think anyone did in all honesty. It is fair to say Bolton perhaps didn't perform how they can but I think that had a lot to do with us not allowing them a foothold in the match. We were outstanding from start to finish and I think it is more accurate to praise us for our display than criticise Bolton for not turning up.
If it had been a more glamorous club the Pundits would have been banging on about it for weeks. If Torres had scored the goal Walters did (his first) they'd have been lapping that up too.We were magnificent.
Paul: There were several factors at work here. We had our 'A' team out and had hit some form - we beat Newcastle 4-0 the previous week. Stoke and Bolton knew that Bolton had been deprived of two of their best players. Also Pulis used Fuller to give a team talk and it brought the house down - so Stoke went out in a relaxed frame of mind. Once the first goal went in it just seemed that everything we did just worked - once in a lifetime it is fair to say.
VMC: If you were granted two wishes, which two current Manchester City players, if any would you like to see playing for Stoke and why?
Tom: I'm a big fan of Tevez; he is an outstanding front man and a great goal scorer so he'd be the obvious pick. I also rate Adam Johnson highly and think he would be great back up to Pennant and Etherington.
Paul: We could take many of City's players (without the wages). I would go for Tevez of course and either Yaya Toure or David Silva - probably Toure.
VMC: In general, how do you and your fellow Stoke supporters perceive Manchester City Football Club and their fans?
Tom: Tough one. As with Chelsea, when hundreds of millions of pounds are ploughed into a club and a team just tries to buy success, resentment always follows. You can't use that to criticise the Man City fans though. From my experience you have a great away following and make a decent racket so fair play for that.
I think it's important you don't get carried away with the Billionaire backing and forget your roots. It wasn't so along ago we were both plying our trade in League 1; things can change so quickly in football.
I think it's fair to say I have a heck of a lot more time for the Blue side of Manchester than I do for the Red half, let`s put it that way.
Paul: I used to like Man City. Now of course with their infinite wealth the club will always have a burden to carry. The fans are ok but I don't suspect it will take many trophies before they join the ranks of the despised - such is life.
VMC: FA Cup Final - Man City v Stoke City. Final score prediction please?
Tom: Man City 1 (Tevez) - Stoke City 2 (Jones, Walters).
Paul: Score...head says 2-0 to Man City. Heart says 2-1 to Stoke. Stoke will play it tight and try to nick a goal. With Fuller and Etherington out our attacking options are limited to the unfit Carew - so we don't have too much choice. Let's hope that we all enjoy the day whatever happens.
Vital Man City would like to thank Tom, Paul and Oatcake Fanzine.
Date:Thursday May 12 2011
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