In truth, it was more infuriating than it was enjoyable. Where was this spine and rigidity when we needed it three weeks ago? Finally proving to the fans that we could hang on to a victory when it doesn’t matter is a bitter punchline to an awful season.
The goals were well taken but it was a pretty pathetic performance overall, not the kind of game plan that inspires faith in the following campaign. The lack of quality shone through in spades as Stoke missed their third consecutive penalty, once again failing to put the game to bed.
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It left the side desperately hanging on against a team as bad as ourselves, flinging bodies into the path of the ball as opposed to any constructive building from the back. Barring some equally poor patches from the home side, Stoke were pegged in for the majority of the game.
We were outran on almost every stat as we were forced to defend 26 attempts on our goal. Stoke ended the game with a total 72 blocks and clearances, compared to Swansea’s meagre total of five.
It was the perfect advertisement for Paul Lambert football, something I sincerely hope we’ve seen the last of.
On the plus side at least the victory carried us above West Brom and off the bottom of the league which could offer a psychological boost next season.
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Best Performer - Lasse Sorensen
I’ve been raving since as long as I can remember that Stoke need to make more of their promising academy. It's been a huge failure for the club for the past 10 years but one of those starlets finally got his chance.
Sorensen never once looked out of his depth, with a combative approach that put pressure on the Swansea midfield. What’s more, he added his first professional assist with a beautiful delivery from a set piece, allowing Peter Crouch to win Stoke the points.
We’ve desperately needed a dead-ball specialist this season and with deliveries like that it only begs the question further, why wasn’t more made of the talent we have at our disposal?
Has the season been a success?
No, nothing could be further from a descriptive term of this season than success.
It’s been a horror show since before the first ball was kicked after an awful transfer window benefitted nothing more than the Coates family's pockets. Mark Hughes had already proven inept in arresting the slide the season before, but was allowed to make an even bigger mess of the club.
I’m not sure we’ve had a single good performance all season, the few victories we’ve managed have been dour affairs or smash and grabs.
We’ve failed to take the game to anyone and haven’t looked anywhere near a Premier League side. Relegation is the best we’ve deserved as our penny pinching and god awful management have resulted in probably the worst side this season.
If this season has proven anything it’s that ability is no substitute for character.
Are you happy with the manager?
No. Hughes will go down as the worst manager in my lifetime, he could have escaped with a much better reputation had he done the right thing and stepped down last summer.
His successor Lambert has done little to impress me though. He’s brought the work ethic back to this squad but is still tactically inept. I thought we were already down by the time Hughes left but looking at the narrow margins of failure that have cost us game after game, I have to believe a better manager would have kept us up.
I tried to support our man, like any good fan but he has let me down too many times. The final day was another example that his football is not good enough to secure promotion.
I don’t blame him for our relegation as plenty of damage was already done by Hughes and the board, but two wins from 15 is not good enough.
Results have been shocking, the quality has been missing and tactical choices have been baffling. His team selection and substitutions have cost us more than a couple points this season and simply he has proven to be a loser.
Even with the victory at Swansea it is a 13% win rate for the Scotsman, which is somehow less than what Alan Pardew achieved with West Brom.
It’s just not good enough and we can’t afford to show loyalty to another inept, failure of a manger. That’s how we got in this situation and that won’t bring us back.
What should be the club’s priority in the transfer market?
The squad needs a complete overhaul, at least nine-10 players need moving out and we require a total restructure.
If there’s one area to focus on though it will obviously be the front line, as we go down with just Crouch, Mame Diouf and Saido Berahino. It’s an area that’s needed addressing for years, we haven’t had a reliable front two since Jon Walters and Kenwyne Jones led the line.
The board has to make up for their lack of investment this season by backing the manager big in the summer and bringing in some quality strikers.
Only goals win games, so I’d take anyone who can score, or we may as well consign ourselves to a lengthy stay in the Championship.
What do you aim for next season?
Promotion, plain and simple. Statistically sides who don’t bounce back in the first two years are likely set for many years wandering the quagmire of the lower reaches.
We need to make this a relegation like West Ham and Newcastle have done in recent seasons; a speedy return will quickly re-establish our status as a top-flight side and we can build from there.
It’s a shame the season has had to end on such a sour note but, despite the results, it has been a pleasure to share this journey.
I can only hope next season will be more prosperous for Stoke City.
Once the dust has settled I shall no doubt remain ever the optimist and, with that thought, I sign off for the season. Up The Potters.
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