With Barcelona listing in open waters after a brutal broadside from Bayern Munich, David Wild declares that the Bavarians themselves will soon be replaced by a true, footballing monster born in the fire of the Potteries…
In the post Champions League battlefield, as the dust comes to rest, we see a world where Tiki Taka is dead. Bayern Munich were an obvious showing of the way that football is moving, with an emphasis away from silly distractions such as 83% possession and 9000 Xavi passes a game. However theirs is but a stepping stone to the next tactical and technical zenith of football. Now that Bayern have vanquished Tiki Taka from the football landscape it is only a matter of time before their own swift passing game is replaced by the next unstoppable force.
Picture a world where the Arabian consortiums had scoured the footballing landscape and plucked from obscurity the humble town of Stoke. It was to be their oasis of the beautiful game. Limitless funds would be made available and the only demand was that the club stay true to Tony Pulis’ tried and tested principles. Imagine, if you will, a world where Stoke City F.C. could buy whoever they wanted but still insisted on playing as if the pitch is made of lava and the ball will melt if left on the ground for longer than 4 passes. Welcome to the Stokelacticos.
GK: Asmir Begović (6 ft 5 in)
We have to keep some continuity here. Asmir Begović would act as Tony Pulis’ trusty lieutenant, ensuring that his team stay true to the true Pulis principles of the game. As well as being an athletic stopper Begović would be a member of the old guard from ‘back in’t days of relegation dogfights’. Commanding respect in the honour, tradition and obvious long term success of Pulis-ism, Begović would also keep his fellow Stokelacticos grounded in their humble roots.
RB: Vedran Corluka (6 ft 4 in)
A sucker for some old Premier League know-how, Pulis would deem that Tottenham’s use of Corluka in a fluid pass and move attacking system was ridiculously outdated. Harking back to the archaic days of Total football rather than the modernist pro-zone informed tactics of renowned strategists such as Allardyce, Sammy Lee and Pulis himself. Corluka would also slot in seamlessly as a 10th Centre-Back when necessary.
LB: Jérémy Mathieu (6 ft 4 in)
With the array of talent at his disposal Tony Pulis would obviously need to stock his team with some of the finest crossers of the ball in the world. In Valencia’s Jérémy Mathieu, Pulis has found the only defender in the world he thinks can cross a ball and get himself above a defender on the end of it at the same time. When called upon would play at Centre-Back.
CB: Servet Çetin (6 ft 3 in)
Having reluctantly let go of Ryan Shawcross, Pulis evidently required a similar rear guard enforcer to step up and take charge of the back line. Cue the Turkish Çetin, known in his home country as Ayıboğan, roughly translated as ‘a man who could choke a bear’. Sevet would bring a much needed calming captain’s presence to the game when faced with the likes of a pre-NFL season friendly with the Chicago Bears. Useful at Centre Back.
CB: Naldo (6 ft 6 in)
Always aware that there is a delicate balancing act in any central defensive partnership, Tony Pulis immediately recognised the need for a more technical defender to replace the lost elegance of Robert Huth. Naldo was a natural replacement with his natural aerial ability. Pulis almost didn’t sign Naldo because of his unnatural use of both feet, in the style of the heathen devils of Total Football but was convinced when, from the manager’s dugout, he could see Naldo’s head poking out from over on the other side of the Marston’s Pedigree stand when he was leaving the stadium.
RM: Joaquín Sánchez Rodríguez (5 ft 10 1⁄2 in)
Pulis knew that he needed wingers who were able to cross the ball from any area of the pitch. Naturally his teams would win anything that was more than 6 ft off the ground but finding a right winger proved difficult once he was told that David Beckham wasn’t capable of a Rory Delap thrown in. Eventually the manager settled on Malaga’s Joaquín due to the accuracy of his crossing, having to unhappily settle for the ball staying on the ground for some juncture of play.
LM: Ángel di María (5 ft 11 in)
The same story as Joaquín yet a more intense tale. There are rumours that Pulis showed Di Maria a tactics board with strict instructions that he was to occupy only his designated wing and never move to any other area. Also that due to his ability to cover the entire length of the pitch in 10 seconds Di Maria was forbidden to have the ball for any time longer than 11 seconds. If necessary could be used at Centre Back
CM: Yaya Touré (6 ft 2 in)
Pulis considered Toure’s wage demands of the GDP of his home country per game slightly excessive at first but was talked round after a quiet consultation with Alan Shearer. The Match of the Day commentator said he had never seen a player so capable of effortlessly switching between ‘not being forward’ and ‘getting forward’ and thus Toure was signed. It is expected that he will eventually be moved into Centre Back with age.
CM: Cheick Tioté (5 ft 11 in)
Jonathan Walters and Ryan Shawcross both recommended Tioté to Pulis stating that they had never seen such a player obviously destined for the Stoke style of play. Pulis was wary of the burden of putting the title of ‘Destroyer’ on the shoulders of his new signing but feels that given the chance his ability to cross and head a ball will be appreciated by overly expectant observors.
ST: Fernando Llorente (6 ft 5 in)
The footballing public’s true question upon the announcement of Stoke’s upturn in fortunes was just how they would replace Kenwyne Jones. Pulis racked his head for hours, despairing at Didier Drogba’s refusal to sign a 6 year contract because he did not wish to play for another English club. Eventually Pulis bit the bullet and plumped for his second choice Fernando Llorente. Although not a traditional Pulis player the manager did say that Llorente would be a useful weapon at set pieces.
ST: Carlos Tévez (5 ft 8 in)
The runt of the litter but always essential to Pulis’ plans, Tévez is the natural replacement for the now idolised Jonathan Walters, who has been gifted with 3 commemorative statues of himself built in and around the Brittania. Though used to something of a different style of play Tévez accepts that no one else has the engine to be capable of running around and kicking as many opposition players as he has. Pulis’ least useful player at Centre Back.
Bayern may be kings in waiting of European football for now but from the ashes of Tiki Taka will rise the Stokelacticos. Long live Tony Pulis!