Chris Kamara
Football Expert & Columnist

Potters of gold

Stoke: have a chance

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Last season Tony Pulis was the loan arranger at Stoke City, but now he has been given the funds to have a proper go at winning promotion.

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"I don't think Stoke are as direct as everybody says they are. It's just that they don't mess about with the ball in their own half and they concentrate on playing football in the final third. It reminds me of the way we used to play at Leeds and it has to be done at times."

Chris Kamara

Quotes of the week

Pulis is not having to beg, steal and borrow any more. The chairman has given him money to spend on good players and because of that I'm not surprised to see them sitting in the play-off positions.

One of his best buys has been Ryan Shawcross from Manchester United and he looks like he's going to be a fantastic player. He's a big centre-half who can play football and can even score goals; people like that are hard to come by.

Manchester United keep a close eye on their youngsters and are not stupid with those they decide to sell. They clearly decided he wasn't 100 per cent right for their squad and the chances of him getting in their first team were very remote, but that doesn't mean he might not come back to haunt them in the future.

Stoke did very well to convince United to sell him, but they had to pay a premium for the education he received at Old Trafford.

They also signed Glenn Whelan from Sheffield Wednesday on deadline day and he's a player I like very much. He gets stuck in, he has a fantastic engine, but he can play some good football as well.

I was surprised to see John Eustace leave for Watford, but obviously Pulis has decided that Whelan is a better player and he must think he will give him that bit extra. For a captain to be told that he is leaving the club when he wanted to stay is surprising, but those are the decisions that managers are paid to make.

Forked out

They forked out good money for Leon Cort, who has been another good signing from Crystal Palace, and the loan deal for Paul Gallagher from Blackburn looks like another terrific move.

Gallagher has been on loan at Preston this season and I like him a lot. He's got a fantastic future, but he will face big competition to get in the side at the moment. He's got to get past the likes of Ricardo Fuller, Richard Cresswell, Jon Parkin and Mamady Sidibe and that kind of competition for places can only be good for Stoke.

It is the first time in a long time that the club have really splashed out and given themselves a chance of going up and Pulis has been very shrewd with the players he has signed.

He has built a big, strong side and they certainly play to their strengths. People accuse them of playing long-ball, but there's no point in playing tippy-tappy football if you've got the players they've got.

Pulis has got an objective to get to the Premier League and there is nothing wrong with going about things the way they have.

And to be honest, I don't think they are as direct as everybody says they are. People look at them and see a big strong side and form an opinion of them without seeing the qualities that they have. But I have seen them a few times and they are all footballers who like to play.

It's just that they don't mess about with the ball in their own half and they concentrate on playing football in the final third. It reminds me of the way we used to play at Leeds and it has to be done at times.


Everybody fears Stoke City now and nobody in the Championship thinks they'll get a comfortable game when the Potters come to play.

They should be getting a lot more credit for what they're doing, but they are probably happy to go quietly un-noticed and slip into fourth place, which is where they are now. They'll be quite happy for people to sit up and take notice after they've been promoted.

The foundations are there to restore the club to the glory days of yesteryear. The facilities are fantastic, they've got a beautiful stadium and they have players who are the envy of a lot of the clubs in the Championship.

They also have a fantastic support, which often goes un-noticed. Stokeys love their football and they will turn out in numbers if there's half a chance of them getting to the Premier League.

Everything is in place for the first time in a long time and things are looking pretty positive for the Potters.

Do you agree with Kammy? Let us know what you think by using the feedback form below and continue to email him your questions here

Now to your email...

I'm a Bristol City supporter, and I was wondering what kind of impact you feel Dele Adebola could make in our attempt to consolidate a play-off place? I'm personally a fan of his and I think that he can be a handful for any defence at this level, but I'm not 100 per cent sure he's the right signing for us, as his goals a game ratio is not exactly better than what we already have! James, Bristol.

KAMMY SAYS: When big Dele's at the top of his game I think he's unplayable, but throughout his career he's never been able to produce his best form consistently. But overall I would say he is a good acquisition for the Bristol City squad.

The thing that worries me about Bristol City is that they haven't spent a lot more in the transfer window, given the position that they find themselves in. I thought Gary Johnson would have gone to his chairman and asked for funds to take advantage of the opportunity that they've got.

Last season, all the teams that spent money in January got their objective. Sunderland, Birmingham and Derby all spent close to £3million and their reward was £50million and a place in the Premier League at the end of the campaign.

This time Watford and West Brom have spent money, as have Stoke and Ipswich. Charlton have sold some players, but have brought a couple in with that money and all those clubs have given themselves a better chance. Those fresh faces will come in handy in March and April when players start getting tired after a long, hard season and the teams that have delved into the transfer market will feel the benefits.

Kammy, couldn't believe your shortlist for the League One Manager of the Month award.. no Paul Trollope - he wasn't even shortlisted! A record of P7 W3 (all away from home) D4 (twice against Premier League Fulham) L0 is pretty damn good I would think. Martinez, who won the award, is clearly doing a fantastic job and good luck to him, but Swansea failed to beat non-league opposition on two occasions. Trollope's work seems to have gone un-noticed (again). Cheers, Alex Harris.

KAMMY SAYS: Paul Trollope has not gone un-noticed at all, Alex, and the awards panel respects the job he has done throughout January. He simply wasn't included in the shortlist because his record in League One wasn't quite good enough.

At the end of January Swansea had played six, won four, drawn two and lost none in the league. The other nominees Cheltenham, Doncaster and Northampton all lost one game, but they also won more matches than Bristol Rovers, who played four, won two and drew two. They didn't figure because of a lack of league games and that is unfortunate. There was a similar situation in League Two where Brentford and Bradford City were unbeaten in January, but they played three games less than some of the other teams and didn't make the shortlist either.

The Coca Cola award is all about what you achieve in the Coca Cola League and we only take cup games into consideration in the event of a tie-break. But there is no doubt Trollope is doing a fantastic job, as shown by the fact he won the award earlier in the season.

Kammy. Do you think the Boing Boing Baggies have the bottle to see the job through? We play some fantastic stuff at Fortress Hawthorns, but when we're away from home we seem like a completely different team. Time and time again our defensive frailties have been shown up at set-plays, and though it's great to see goals, you can't have a sound football club by simply trying to outscore the opponents. Nick Astbury, Baggies fan.

KAMMY SAYS: That's a fair point, Nick, but that's Tony Mowbray's style. They've got better players than most teams in the Championship and their players are particularly good at going forward. They have had success playing an open game at home and it would be difficult to ask them to play in a different way on the road.

If you look at the Premier League, most teams play with an organised 4-5-1 formation away from home and the likes of Everton, Portsmouth, Manchester City and Aston Villa have all done well playing that way. They have to be careful because if you concede the first goal, you usually end up losing the game. The exception is the 'Big Four' because Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool don't fear anyone.

If you had to pick a 'Big Four' in the Championship, then West Brom would be part of it because they have better individual players than most of the teams they play against. They go away from home and play without fear, but anybody can beat anybody in that division and Albion will catch a cold from time to time.

I'm sure Tony Mowbray would have to change the way they play if they got promoted. But hey, you're two points clear at the top of the Championship, let's not hear too much complaining!

Do you agree with Kammy? Let us know what you think by using the feedback form below and continue to email him your questions here