Not the best day to be a Stokie. A managerial snub, clubs around us picking up points, and goals for Arnautovic and Joselu. We are a fan base divided between the anxious and the apathetic, as the Flores debacle gets filed under ‘Classic Stoke’.
It seems highly likely we’ll go into Old Trafford without a permanent manager, a game that’s a bigger write-off than the Man Booker Prize.
And then we have ‘that’ run. A run we absolutely have to compete in. Whilst we can’t expect to win them all, this run will define our season. Huddersfield, Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Leicester, Southampton. We need to have a new manager installed for Huddersfield at home, he needs to be the right one, and he needs to hit the ground running. Quite a lot of caveats there, and the club only have a week in which to appoint him.
It doesn’t matter if Flores’ decision was the Spaniard’s fault, or the fault of Tony Scholes, or the fault of fate. It’s happened. It’s shit that it’s happened, but we need to act decisively. It seems that it may mean a return to Martin O’Neill, an apparent already jilted party this week. If he swallows his pride and accepts, it may not be the choice we want but the choice we need. As unglamorous as he is, O’Neill’s experience could let slip the dogs of war. Alternatively, the footballing dinosaur will display little of the tactical nuance required to keep us up, and we will continue in the Hughesian manner, sliding into the Championship.
None of us know what’s going on, really. You can stick all your ‘ITKs’ in a big bin as far as I’m concerned. Their speculation, their sources, their subtle clues and hints can all fuck off. It’s only been a week, but it feels like a year of one-upmanship, ‘I know something you don’t know’ and general speculative bollocks.
The club have fucked up. Not in sacking Hughes, possibly not even in failing to entice Flores away from Las Ramblas towards the bright lights of Hanley, but in sitting on their hands. Hughes should have gone in the Summer, he should have gone in October, he should have gone in November, he should have gone in December. Now we’re all panicking a bit.
There could be an appointment tomorrow, but confidence in the Stoke City hierarchy is at rock bottom. We need the next decision to be the right one. After bowling wides all season, we need it to take out middle stump. The very future of the club depends on it.
No matter who the manager is, they will have our support. We’ve said that much from the beginning. O’Neill, Potter, even bloody McClaren, we cannot allow the inaction to continue. The clock is ticking on Stoke City as a Premier League club. Our fingernails are chewed and our nerves are shot and we haven’t even played yet this weekend. Please, please Stoke. Just give us a bit of hope for the remainder of the season. Goooarn, you infuriating bastards.