The pleasure of watching City play teams such as Stoke always finds Stanley re-hashing the same old gags at the expense of their style of play.
The Pentagon are still to deny that their original plan to disenable their recently malfunctioning satellite was to position it over the Britannia Stadium during the next Stoke home game and wait for a direct hit from the next Stoke defensive clearance…
The only ball used during Stoke's weekday training is a medicine ball, perfect for perfecting long throws with and mastering agricultural passes…
If the week goes well, as a special treat, the squad get to touch an actual football for five minutes on Friday afternoon, if the week has gone really well they can actually play with it for two minutes…
The problem is, of course, that it is the Stokes and the Tony Pulis of this world who always seem to have the last laugh. Plus just like the unorthodox attacking flair of a batsman like Kevin Pietersen is based upon a very orthodox defensive technique, then the unsightly style of Stoke is actually based upon two universal essentials for success, exhibited by the Arsenals of this world as much as anyone else.
Firstly, it's the physical nature of the beast. Stoke weren't a dirty team, they didn't duff us up; they were just physically stronger, quicker and, in the end, fitter.
To describe them as a team of athletes is perhaps going too far, but they were certainly closer to that description then City were and Arsenal most certainly are a team of athletes. Arsenal's last visit to Carra Rud sticks in Stanley's mind for the image of Thierry Henry's physique.
Lithe, quick but also big and strong, a genuine athlete, he out-powered the likes of Drury as much as out-skilled them. In this day and age you don't need a PhD in BioMechanics to know that for the numbers on the scoreboard to add up in your favour, the numbers in the tale of the tape have to do likewise.
Secondly, it's the tactics employed in both general terms and specific to this game. Generally Stoke have a simple approach to football but in that lies a degree of tactical astuteness.
Simple formations are employed, round pegs are fitted into round holes, there is a resistance to tinkering with tactics too much. Players are subsequently comfortable in what they are doing and confident in being able to do it well.
Specific to this game Stoke were, rightly, confident of their aerial dominance in both boxes, especially their own. Therefore they were happy to let Norwich play in front of them. They didn't hassle us or play in our faces.
They simply let us play horizontally across the pitch, allowing us to get the ball wide, safe in the knowledge that any crosses coming into their box would be easily dealt with by a keeper confident in handling crosses and defenders well drilled in clearing headers. Something very easily drilled into players day after day on the training pitch.
Where, you suspect, Stoke would have been venerable would have been if we had run at them through the channels, in a similar way to how Blackpool played against us. Pattison and Fozz are, for the qualities they have as a pair, not the kind of midfielders to be able to orchestrate that style of play.
They are very much win it and pass it wide style players. Consequently we played straight into the hands of Stoke's strengths. Likewise in our box Stoke always had the upper hand, the nature of the winning goal being no great surprise, yet one we were unable to do anything about.
So, to be fair to Stoke, a deserved three points for them and Stanley says good luck to them. There's no point complaining about the style of play if you have neither the physical or tactical wherewithal to beat it.
As for City four defeats in the last seven, five points off the bottom three, Bramell Lane next up then a potential relegation six pointer against Colchester. This season is still far from over and if the form of the last seven games is repeated over the next seven then we are serious danger of being dragged back into a right old scrap to avoid the drop.
Sheffield Wednesday away, last game of the season, is not one to be embarking upon anything but safe.
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