Chapter 6 - A Press Conference and a Team Meeting
(EPL) Stoke City 1 - 1 Aston Villa
K Jones (50)
Summary: Stoke City were considered favourites in this match, due to their home advantage, but they couldn't make it count. Agbonlahor was too quick down the right flank and crossed well for Bressan to finish. At HT, Packett minced no words. He was aware that he did not have the confidence of the team yet, but he told them in no uncertain terms that he expected a much better show after the break. Kenwyne Jones responded within 5 minutes of the restart with a clinical finish, but after that, the match became more open. Villa were dangerous on the counter, and Packett was left thanking his luck once again at the signing of Craig Gordon.
(EPL) Stoke City 1 - 0 Man Utd
S Tshabalala (41)
Summary: Picture this, if you will. A team full of monstrosities in red charge up and down the pitch, threatening to destroy my goal and my goalkeeper. There are almost 20 players in my half, when Craig Gordon receives the ball from a defender. Shared shitless (just kidding, he wasn't scared...he was, in fact, TOTALLY AWESOME!), he kicks the ball up the field as hard as possible. Tshabalala is free of the last defender, takes a deep breath and shoots to de Gea's left. No chance for de Gea. STOKE TAKE THE LEAD! Since my defence was doing well, I asked them to continue counter-attacking for a while. We got lucky, they hit the post once. And another time, Vidic's goal was ruled offside, correctly. For the last few minutes, I did this:
Post-Match Press ConferenceDuring the last few minutes of the game, Packett could barely control himself. He waited anxiously for the referee to blow the whistle. Stoke were leading 1-0 against a strong Man Utd side. Finally, the referee blew the whistle and the crowd erupted into a wall of sound.
On his way to the dressing room, Packett had a mic shoved in his face.
"Mr Packett! What did you make of the match?"
"I'm chuffed! That was a magnificent victory for us. Our defence was just brilliant!"
"What do you think about the goal Man Utd had ruled out for offside? Sir Alex Ferguson thinks the referee got that wrong."
"Well, he can suck my ..." Peter muttered.
"I'm sorry, sir? I coudln't hear that clearly."
"Oh, I said it was straight as a stick, that decision. The ref got it right. It was offside. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to meet my players."
The mood in the dressing room was festive. Packett walked in to find most of the players in good spirits. Many of them were even smiling at him.
Maybe, he thought, the time has finally come for a team meeting.
The Team Meeting...The next day, before the start of training, Packett called the players into the dressing room. He was slightly nervous. The next two games were tough away fixtures at White Hart Lane (Spurs) and Sports Direct Arena (Newcastle). This would be a good time to raise morale, if possible. Also, at the moment, after having beaten Manchester United, Stoke were up in 2nd position in the table.
"Lads, we've been doing really well so far," Peter put it across simply, "and I'm really happy at our league position. Keep it up."
He surveyed the faces to try and gauge their reaction. Most players seemed to take this in a positive way, but he couldn't discern the expression on the faces of a couple others.
"Does anyone want to add something?"
"Well," NIgel Reo-Coker hesitated, "to be honest, boss, I think we can do better."
This took Packett by surprise.
"I sorta agree with Nigel," Jonathan Walters muttered.
"Ok," Packett said, "anyone else have an opinion?"
"Everyone's focused and playing well," David Albelda said, "it's a good time to be at Stoke!"
His words of encouragement seemed to uplift the mood once again.
"Well," Peter said, "I suppose that's the reaction I was after!"
The players went out onto the pitch, most of them in a better mental state than when they had walked in.
...and how it affected Match Results(EPL) Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 0 Stoke City
R Van Der Vaart (25)
Summary: A match completely dominated by Spurs with 68% possession. Though we were trying to break on the counter, Crouch was wasteful and we couldn't find a goal. Our defence was pretty good, though, Gordon making 6 saves and Huth winning all 9 headers he contested for. Cameron Jerome, who has been playing the part of super-sub, couldn't do much in the 18 minutes he was given as Spurs had an organised defence too, unfortunately.
(EPL) Newcastle 2 - 0 Stoke City
Xisco (16, 47)
Summary: Xisco had good movement and they put in some nice crosses for him. We had slightly better possession in this game (41% compared to 32% in the previous game), but again our attack failed miserably. In fact, Newcastle's defence all got ratings of above 7.1. In comparison, my defence switched off and no one got a rating above 6.5, which is disappointing. Tshabalala had a shocking game (5.4)
Player of the Monthhttp://img.thesun.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01294/CrAIG_gORDON_13_28_1294860a.jpg
For providing the match-winning assist in the match against Man Utd, and for keeping the score from getting embarrassing against Spurs, Craig Gordon is the player of the month.
Next Month PreviewOnly 3 matches next month:
QPR (H) -- We host QPR who knocked us out of the Carling One Cup.
West Ham (A) -- Ought to pick up a win on the road here. They're currently in 17th place.
Reading (A) -- In 13th place at the moment, but currently undefeated at home, so this will be a challenge.