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50 The Sentinel Tuesday October 18, 2016 thesentinel.co.uk / s e n t i n e l s t a ff s @ S e n t i n e l S t a ff s The Sentinel Tuesday October 18, 2016 51 thesentinel.co.uk / s e n t i n e l s t a ff s @ S e n t i n e l S t a ff s Hanna Lindvig, pictured with Wilfried Bony, and her brother Jonah Lindvig –with Erik Pieters –lead out Stoke on Saturday. Picture: Phil Radcliffe Shaq: Wilf will soon be firing in the goals for Stoke ‘Joe Allen is one of the smallest players on the pitch, but he has the biggest heart’ FOOTBALL Shay stays upbeat after losing number one spot Norwegian influence helps City shine # l o c a l a n d p ro u d # l o c a l a n d p ro u d # l o c a l a n d p ro u d Lou Macari Stoke midfielder proving that he’s no ordinary Joe SOMETIMES you sign a player who’s more than what it says on the tin –and Joe Allen is certainly falling into that category. He came to Stoke with the reputation of being an industrious midfielder, one who would give you everything every week, but it turns out he knows how to hit the back of the net as well. It’s terrific that we can salute a player who must be the British success story of the Premier League season so far. I emphasise the words so far because we must be careful not to almost expect such exploits week in, week out. Allen now has four goals in three games for Stoke, but he’d be the first midfielder in history to maintain anything like that kind of scoring ratio. The responsibility for scoring has to be shared out among the Stoke lads, they can’t rely on Allen every week, and that responsibility falls heaviest on their strikers of course. It sounds like Wilfried Bony had a better game on Saturday and Mark Hughes, pictured, will be hoping that’s a sign of things to come from his on- loan striker. As for Allen, his story is all the more noteworthy because it’s so rare these days. With so much money in the game, players tend to come in with their reputations already made, they have little to surprise you with, you just hope they justify their potential. But his goals have been a huge bonus. When money was a lot tighter in the game, and when Europe wasn’t a supermarket for players, managers would take to the motorways on a Tuesday afternoon or a Wednesday evening to check out hidden gems lower down the leagues. You could be pretty sure there were good players who had fallen on hard times playing in a reserve team somewhere. That’s how it was with Mark Stein and Mike Sheron, for instance, but you had to get such signings right far more often than not with so little money to spend. Now, of course, many clubs can splash out millions and take more of a gamble because of the money at their disposal. Allen’s two goals against Sunderland guided Stoke to victory in a must-win game. I know Sparky wouldn’t admit that beforehand, but he knows how important it was to see off the bottom club. It was a comfortable enough victory in the end and Sunderland were clearly average, to say the least, but nothing is certain in the Premier League and that win had to be earned. Stoke were under a fair bit of pressure going into the fixture, so fans shouldn’t under- estimate what a great outcome that was. I think scoring a goal as early as the eighth minute helped enormously by settling any nerves and putting Sunderland firmly on the back foot. I also get the impression that goalkeeper Lee Grant has settled in very quickly and is spreading a defensive belief throughout the team. And that belief will only increase with that elusive first clean sheet of the season. Believe you me, that clean sheet will have pleased Sparky almost as much as the two goals which won the game. As for Sunderland, various managers have struggled up there over the years and I don’t see it being any different for David Moyes. They will just be hoping and praying he can pull off the kind of great escape Sunderland have relied on over the last few seasons. Stoke go to Hull City on Saturday, wondering whether or not it’s a good time to play them after they were spanked 6-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday. Bournemouth are not one of the big boys and aren’t in the habit of taking teams to the cleaners like that, so it doesn’t bode well for Hull. Then again, you’d expect some kind of reaction next time out from Hull, particularly in front of their own fans, so Stoke can’t take anything for granted. I felt for Hull manager Mike Phelan, someone I know pretty well, and who’s as honest as the day is long. That will have hurt, badly, and I know it’s a horrible feeling when you’re a manager standing helpless on the touchline as your team falls apart. I remember having a similar feeling in a League Cup replay at Arsenal back in 1996/97 when we got a bit of a battering. I couldn’t complain at my players, though, it was just that Arsenal were at full tilt and didn’t give us a chance in a 5-2 defeat. Arsene Wenger had just taken charge and didn’t let up in his team selection that night which was: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Keown, Adams, Bould, Platt, Vieira, Merson Bergkamp and Wright. from the stands this season alongside son Christian, while at Manchester United he was sat among the away fans alongside former Potters team- mates Andy Wilkinson and Carl Dickinson. And on Stoke’s start to the season he comments: “I was a bit worried, to be honest, who wo u l d n’t be? “It’s not like Stoke, although to be fair in the last two seasons we have started like that and finished ninth, but this season looks a bit worse for starters. “Encouragingly, the second half against Manchester United we came out with a point and it’s a turning point I think.” At the start of the summer he revealed he was hoping S t o ke ’s chief executive Tony Scholes might offer him a scouting role, but nothing has materialised as yet. “I spoke with Mr Scholes earlier this year in Nantwich over a cup of chocolate and some sweets. It was a good talking session, but the club h a s n’t got back to me yet,” explained Fuller, who was speaking at the official opening of an all-weather pitch at the Edenhurst Preparatory School in the Westlands, Newcastle. On the coaching side, meanwhile, he is working hard to earn his coaching licences ahead of a possible touchline career. “I’m doing Level Two badges every Wednesday now. My third session was this week and we have seven sessions. Next May I’ve got the B, then the next May the A.” Fuller the manager. Now that could be as entertaining as Fuller the player. Well, almost. SO who would Ricardo Fuller love to play alongside the most if he could have the pick of the current Stoke squad? He wasn’t warned about the question, but he didn’t need any time to think about his answer anyway. “T hat’s an easy one, man, Joe Allen,”he declared almost i n s t a n t ly. “Since he’s signed, I’ve seen him everywhere. He’s one of the smallest guys on the pitch, but has the biggest heart and has his heart on his sleeve. “He’s not afraid to go into challenges. He’s not afraid to run around. He’s not afraid to shoot. He’s not afraid to score. He’s not afraid to miss. “He’s got everything. I’ve always liked him, since he was at Swansea and Liverpool, but watching him play for Stoke is a joy. “I like to see players like that. It doesn’t matter if you are six foot two, or five foot five, I like to see players like that... brave, strong, not Read all the latest Stoke City news at thesentinel.co.uk & facebook.com/StokeCitySentinel afraid, because I think that was me, playing like I would do in a game. “I would have loved playing with him. Glenn Whelan was another one because he’s not afraid to go into challenges. “A small guy, but not afraid to turn up at the game and do what he knows best.” Many might have thought Fuller would have opted for a Marko Arnautovic rather than a Joe Allen, but maybe there is only room for one such maverick in any Stoke side. Not that Fuller likens himself wholeheartedly with a player who’s desire and attitude has occasionally been questioned. Again without prompting, Fuller continued: “Arnautovic... obviously people are probably looking for me to say him. Good player, but we all know we need a little bit more effort from him and a little bit less tantr ums. “Then I think then we will have a real player because he’s got all the attributes, all the talent in the world. “We all know talent is only a basic requirement. We need the will. The will to win, the will to run, the will to defend, the will to attack... and that’s what can make him the player he can be.” Fuller, whose glittering Stoke career came to an end in 2012, has watched many games Ricardo Fuller was a firm fans’ favourite during his Stoke career, and he’s leading the cheers for a current player. Martin Spinks reports... Arnautovic is a good player, but we need a little bit more effort from him and less tantrums. “ ” Joe Allen has made a big impression since joining Stoke City. Ricardo Fuller wants to see more from Stoke star Marko Arnautovic. Former Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller is a firm fan of midfielder Joe Allen, who has been in superb form for the Potters. SHAY Given is taking his recent demotion on the chin and enjoying Lee Grant’s goalkeeping almost as much as everyone else. Given has been back on the bench for Stoke’s last four fixtures after conceding four goals in two successive games against Tottenham and Crystal Palace. But he has no complaints as long as Grant, fresh from S at u rd ay ’s first clean sheet of the season against Sunderland, maintains his current form. “Personally, I’m d i s ap p o i n t e d , ”G ive n acknowledged, “because I was playing and the manager made a decision to change it, but I’ll support Lee and all he d o e s. “Nothing changes. You’re still working together and yo u ’re still trying to get in the team, but Lee’s come in and done fantastically well. “The West Brom and Sunderland games he’s probably not had much to do, but I think he was our outstanding performer at Old Trafford. He had a great game and deserves credit for that.” And at 40-and-a-bit, the Irish veteran, pictured, insists he remains young at hear t. “I’ve just come off the training pitch and I’m diving around like I’m still 19 –I don’t think I’ll ever lose t h at . “I love playing football and love the time with the lads. I know I haven’t got loads of time left to enjoy that, so every day you enjoy it even more. “Yo u ’re happy to be alive when you get to my age! But no, I’m at that stage of my career where I’m coming to the tail end and you enjoy every training session and enjoy the group as well. It’sa great group of lads.” Given watched admiringly from the sidelines on Saturday as Stoke completed a comfortable 2-0 win over Sunderland to further bolster confidence heading to Mike P h e l a n’s Hull this weekend. “We had a lot of belief that it was going to be our day and hopefully we can push on for the remainder of the season,” said Given, who was speaking at Seabridg e Primary School where he was handing out goody bags to children signed up to the club’s City 7’s Scheme which encourages younger fans through the turnstiles. “It was a big three points. It’s easy to talk about it, but the lads went out and performed and kept a clean sheet as well, which is great. “I think they had one free- kick in the second half, but Lee Grant dealt with that and it’s credit to the whole team because we defended well and d i d n’t really give them any ch a n c e s. “Hull have had a poor result, of course, losing six at Bournemouth, so they’ll be hurting and I’m sure Mike Phelan will be on to them all week about putting that right against us. “But we feel that now we’ve had that first victory we can really push on. We’ve got the next six or seven games that we think we can win and if we do that we can push up the lea gue. “If you get a couple of victories then we are probably mid-table and it’s amazing how quickly it turns round. “We are all on a high and t h e re ’s a good feeling in the c a m p. “That comes from winning games and getting points. Roll on next week.” STOKE City’s mascots are becoming almost as cosmopolitan as Mark Hughes’ first-team squad. The Potters-mad youngsters who walked out with the Stoke players before Saturday’s Premier League clash with Sunderland included two from Norway. They were Jonah Lindvig, aged 10, and his sister Hanna Lindvig, aged 13, and they walked hand- in-hand on to the bet365 Stadium pitch with full-back Erik Pieters and striker Wilfried Bony. Tracy Burrows, Stoke City’s mascot co-ordinator, said: “Our mascot packages are very successful and every year there are a number of fans travelling from afar to see their heroes. “It was great to see Jonah and Hanna come over from Norway and for Stoke City to give them the opportunity to meet their favourite players in person.” And the youngsters went home smiling after seeing their team beat Sunderland 2-0 to record their first Premier League win of the season. STOKE CITY Mar tin Spinks XHERDAN Shaqiri insists Wilfried Bony’s contribution should not be overlooked after the Potters secured their first Premier League win of the season. In-form midfielder Joe Allen scored twice in the first half to help Stoke beat bottom- of-the-table Sunderland 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium. Striker Bony is still looking for his first goal in red and white after signing on a season-long loan from Manchester City in the summer. He has made six appearances in all competitions –and came close to breaking his duck, but was denied by Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford. However, Shaqiri says it will not be long before Bony, pictured, is up and running on the goal trail. “Of course for a striker it’s always good and important to score goals, but Wilfried is in a very good way,” Shaqiri told the club’s website. “It’s not simple for him at times because he works incredibly hard to keep hold of the ball up front. “He’s a very good guy and he works a lot in the week and in matches. “I’ve enjoyed playing with him, he’s getting closer and he’s getting in the right positions so soon he will score, there’s no doubt about that. “He works very hard and he played very well on Saturday. He’s an important part of the team and he helped us win the game. “That’s the main thing, winning games, but I am sure that once he gets his first then he will go on to get plenty of goals.” Bony will be hoping his time comes when the Potters make the trip to Hull City this weekend. But they will come up against a wounded animal after the Tigers were thumped 6-1 at Bournemouth at the weekend. Boss Mike Phelan says he wants a response. “The result and the performance much shocked me,”he said. “If you come away from home in this league and put in a performance like we did, then you get punished. “We have to stick together, regroup and respond to be prepared for Stoke.” idence heading to Mike P h e l a n’s Hull this weekend. “We had a lot of belief that it was going to be our day and hopefully we can push on for the remainder of the season,” said Given, who was speaking at Seabridg e Primary School where he was handing out goody bags to children signed up to the club’s City 7’s Scheme which encourages younger fans through the turnstiles. “It was a big three points. It’s easy to talk about it, but the lads went out and performed and kept a clean sheet as well, which is great. “I think they had one free- kick in the second half, but Lee Grant dealt with that and it’s credit to the whole team because we defended well and d i d n’t really give them any ch a n c e s. “Hull have had a poor result, of course, losing six at Bournemouth, so they’ll be hurting and I’m sure Mike Phelan will be on to them all week about putting that right against us. “But we feel that now we’ve had that first victory we can really push on. We’ve got the next six or seven games that we think we can win and if we do that we can push up the lea gue. “If you get a couple of victories then we are probably mid-table and it’s amazing how quickly it turns round. “We are all on a high and t h e re ’s a good feeling in the c a m p. “That comes from winning games and getting points. Roll on next week.” STOKE City’s mascots are becoming almost as cosmopolitan as Mark Hughes’ first-team squad. The Potters-mad youngsters who walked out with the Stoke players before Saturday’s Premier League clash with Sunderland included two from Norway. They were Jona