Changes needed to help spark ailing City
JUST when you thought everything was oh so predictable, the old Stoke came back.
You remember them. The ones who battle hard, upsetting the major powers of English football, the ones who can actually score a penalty.
Some semblance of normality was resumed when Glen Whelan gave away a free-kick which led to Newcastle's equaliser, but all in all a draw at St James' Park – one of Stoke's happier hunting grounds during the Premier League years – was both deserved and welcome.
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Well, not exactly, because just when City seemed to have won a first point away from home in the league since before Christmas upped popped Papiss Cisse to win the game in injury time.
Gut-wrenching and undeserved, but another defeat means it is four out of the last five league games, and seven out of the last nine.
These really are down in the dumps days, especially when compared to the highs of a couple of years ago.
While portents of relegation being spread by the misery-mongers may well be far too much doom and gloom too early, certainly you cannot escape the remarkable fact that Stoke City have won fewer league points (four) in 2013 than any other side in English professional football.
So, how do Stoke stop the rot?
For me, TP has to ring some midfield changes and start with Kenwyne Jones up front.
The players who have mostly featured through this barren spell are looking jaded, especially Whelan and NZonzi.
Starting with Dean Whitehead might give the centre of the park a more solid feel, while Jones and Walters are a far better combination than Crouch and anyone right now.
And this is where much of the recent criticism of Pulis has come from.
His refusal to try the other experienced and expensive options he has available to him on the bench.
Michael Owen has made one start and a handful of sub appearances, which show he hasn't been a good investment.
Charlie Adam is also on the sidelines, while Wilson Palacios seems to be allergic to more than just a strong breeze judging by his lack of game time.
It's time that TP freshened it up and trusted – even if it is for just one game – some of these peripheral players.
They can't produce much worse form than the current incumbents at the moment.