Fans' panel: Stoke City have made progress as a club, but have we progressed on the pitch?
WE'VE rolled out the big guns for this week's fans' panel ahead of tomorrow's game at Newcastle.
It's no surprise to see Stoke's dismal away performances come under the spotlight from LEE LYCETT, from Waterhayes, home and away regular ANGELA SMITH, from Tenerife, JON OWEN, from Hartshill and exiled Stokie TIM SMITH, from Bermuda.
WHAT'S YOUR TEAM?
LEE LYCETT: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Wilson, Wilkinson; Cameron, Nzonzi, Adam, Jerome, Jones, Etherington.
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ANGELA SMITH: Begovic, Shotton, Shawcross, Wilson, Wilkinson, Walters, Adam, Nzonzi, Etherington, Jerome, Jones.
JON OWEN: Begovic, Shotton, Wilson, Shawcross, Wilkinson, Whelan, Nzonzi, Adam, Walters, Jerome, Jones.
TIM SMITH: Sorensen, Wilkinson (RB), Shotton (CB), Shawcross (CB), Wilson (LB), Kightly, Whelan, Nzonzi, Etherington, Walters, Jones. (Tommy will help make sure Shotton doesn't cock it up. That's the plan).
WHAT'S YOUR PREDICTION?
LEE LYCETT: Another well ground out 1-0 defeat.
ANGELA SMITH: We will grind out a 1-1 draw.
JON OWEN: How we're set up away I can't really see anything other than a home win. Please surprise us TP!
TIM SMITH: Newcastle 3, Stoke 0.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS?
LEE LYCETT: Our dire, negative football away from home puts too much pressure on us to perform and get a result at home. Against West Ham that pressure was too much.
The manager's negative mentality plus the fact that he keeps persisting with out-of-form players has now transmitted to the fan base.
This has been bubbling under the surface for a while and on Saturday came to a head.
FA Cup finals and European football is all part of our history, and for which I am grateful, but it is the present and the future that matters.
We have made progress as a club most definitely, but have we made progress on the pitch in the last two years?
In fact, how we set up away from home is identical to the way we did it in our very first season in the Premier League, which was understandable five years ago, but not now.
This is the manager's biggest test since he returned to the club.
I believe in stability, but it will be extremely difficult to continue down the road we are going at the moment.
Please TP, I am not asking for caviare, just a little bit of salt and vinegar on my chips.
ANGELA SMITH: Given the dreadful run that we have been on it is understandable that many fans are expressing their unhappiness, not only about the defeats, but the manner in which we are playing.
The fight, desire and hard work that are the trademark of our teams seems to have gone.
We are creating very little and it's difficult to see us winning if we go a goal behind.
Fans always want to see improvement, but at the moment I think we would all be happy to see us playing at a faster tempo and creating chances with crosses coming in from the flanks, so that whoever plays up front has a chance of scoring.
I don't like to hear our fans booing as we are now known for one of the best atmospheres in the country, but it's hard to be as vocal when the team is under-performing.
The players need to regain confidence, and we can help play a part with our support.
Newcastle could provide the platform for recovery given the long Europa League trip they had prior to the game. We have to end our dismal run away from home some time.
JON OWEN: A few weeks ago, after the Reading win, I thought we were safe. After seeing us against West Ham, and taking into consideration our 2013 form, I now realise we aren't. The West Ham game was as poor as I've ever seen us at home in the Premier League.
It was genuinely worrying to see us that bad. And that's from an eternal optimist. TP has proved some fans wrong before, but he needs to do it again.
TIM SMITH: So a Manchester United fan (from Nottingham) was so traumatised by Nani's red card on Tuesday night that he rang 999 to report a crime?
Heaven knows what would happen if Fergie's boys ever got their share of the stinking decisions we're accustomed to at Stoke.
Phones would be ringing off the hook in cop shops in Torquay, China and the North Pole if, instead of being given the benefit of the doubt when he smashes one of our centre-backs in the face, Wayne Rooney was treated like his name's Ricardo Fuller. And if Rob Styles ever takes charge of a Man U – Gillingham match, I expect the prawn sandwich brigade to invade the pitch screaming "Treason!" before making a citizen's arrest and hauling him down to the Tower of London to await the same punishment that befell Guy Fawkes.
Anyway, I might ring the police myself this weekend – to complain about Tony Pulis's tactics.