Season Review: Stoke City

Last updated : 04 June 2009 By Stoke City Mad
How did your season go? Did Stoke finish where you expected them to?
Our season was unbelievable. To finish 12th, 11 points clear of the relegation zone, was a magnificent achievement and exceeded everybody's - including Paddy Powers'  - expectations.

The fans have really stood up and been counted and have carried the side through many a sticky situation at the Brit.

Players who were maybe expected to struggle in adjusting to the top flight like Wilkinson, Sidibe, Delap, Lawrence and Whelan have all shone whilst Fuller has been like a man possessed all season and has proved himself amongst the world's elite. Chuck in new signings like A.D.Faye, Beattie, Sorenson and Etherington and we have moved on so much in twelve months.

Finishing 17th would have been the aim so we can have smashed that target but that has to be the initial aim again next season.

Who was Stoke's player of the year?
The whole team deserve a mention as they have all been sensational but Abdoulaye Faye stood a class above. He took on the captaincy and led the team like a natural. An absolute bargain at £2.25m, he is just immense, completely calm with the ball, dominating in the air, and has the ability to see the play before it happens. A Facebook group declaring 'Fayeism' as a religion shows the impact he has made on the supporters.

Who were the best players you saw play against Stoke?
Supposed big name players like Fabregas, Terry, Ronaldo and Gerrard failed to cover themselves in glory when playing the Potters.

Robinho netted a superb hat trick at Eastlands, but was anonymous at the Brit.

Hangeland dominated everything in the air in both games we played against Fulham.

The top honour must go to Frank Lampard. Totally controlled the tempo and the match in both games against Chelsea and scored the winner in the 94th minute at Stamford Bridge.

What did you make of Hull City?
Effort was there for all too see and at the start of the season good results meant confidence carried you through in some big wins but that went in the blink of an eye when Phil Brown had his on-pitch team talk at Eastlands. That destroyed everything you had worked to get and, I believe, was the main reason for your sudden downturn in fortunes.

Need more quality, especially up front, if you are to survive next season but I was more than happy to see you stay up on the final day.

Where do you need to strengthen this summer?
We could do with an enforcer in the middle of the pitch to let us dominate games from the most important area and also free up Whelan to play a more open game.

We require a top drawer striker or two to challenge Beattie and Fuller. There is no problem with the two we have up front but one injury and we are really short. Cresswell tries his heart out but isn't Prem class, Kitson doesn't suit our style of play and looks a shadow of the player he was at Reading and big Mama Sidibe could be out until New Year so an addition or two up top is a must.

Pace out wide would be welcomed. Besides Etherington we don't have a player who can go past a man. Lawrence offers a different threat but one more pacey winger would give us a safety net with injuries and suspensions.

A couple of full backs would be welcomed. Wilkinson and Higginbotham have been solid and there is no problem with the defensive side of their game but in this league we could just do with players who are more comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Who'll be on their way out?
Pericard's gone and Camara and Kelly have returned to their parent clubs. Any of Simonsen, Griffin, Olofinjana, Cort, Soares, Cresswell, Kitson, Pugh, Diao, Davies, Tonge, Dickinson and Sonko could leave depending on how happy they are sitting on the bench/in the stands. Also expeect highly rated youngsters Shotton and Wedderburn to spend most the season out on loan.

Stoke's best 11 of the season?
Wilkinson Shawcross A.D.Faye Higginbotham
Lawrence Delap Whelan Etherington
Beattie Fuller

Dan Buxton is editor of Stoke City Mad