Firstly, can you introduce yourself to the readers.
My name’s Jim Thornton and a third generation Stoke fan of some 42 years since I saw my first game. I’ve been in exile in the south since I was 18 and time, family commitments and distance mean that these days I don’t get to as many games as I’d like.
So to feed my football addiction, I’m an owner of our local community owned club, Lewes CFC of the Ryman Premier League, which is also a useful reminder of how football should be watched. No advanced ticket required, standing on the terraces, a pint in hand, fag on the go and change ends at half-time.
Last season, United had a hard fought 2-1 win over Stoke at home and a gritty 1-1 draw at the Britannia. Why is it so hard on a cold, wet Tuesday night at the Britannia?
It’s actually only hard if you’re one of the ‘big’ clubs. Third and fourth season syndrome meant both fans and players only seemed able to rouse themselves for the big games. If you look at our home record for the last couple of seasons you’ll see that the ‘Fortress Britannia’ idea is a myth with regular home defeats to the likes of QPR, Blackpool, Fulham, Newcastle and Wigan.
One of the great unanswered questions regarding our evolution is whether Sir Tony Pulis can ever get over his preferred role of the underdog because until he does we’ll continue to under-perform against the mid-lower table sides, especially away.
Javier Hernandez seems to love scoring against Stoke. Do you expect him to start on Saturday?
Having watched wayne Rooney fail to perform in an England shirt yet again on Wednesday I wouldn’t expect him to be an automatic choice for Saturday. So yes, I would expect Hernandez to start.
Our biggest weakness has been aerial attacks and set pieces over the past two seasons. Are you confident you can exploit that and get something out of the game?
“There are clubs without a question of a doubt that are on a different level and United are one.” Tony Pulis
Only if Sir Tony changes the habit of a lifetime and doesn’t instruct the players to turn up, doff their caps to Sir Alex Ferguson, thank him for allowing little old Stoke City to play on the hallowed turf and then on no account do anything that might upset his hero, idol, mentor and friend.
Michael Owen joined Stoke in the summer. Do you think he will be a good signing for the Potters? Do you expect him to play on Saturday if fit?
I don’t expect him to start for two reasons. Firstly, because he will be nowhere near ‘Stoke-fit’ yet having missed our pre-season and secondly because Jon Walters seemingly cannot be dropped.
Who do you see as the biggest threat from United on Saturday and which Stoke player do you think will be the most important if you are to take something from the game?
Scholes if he plays. I watched him at The Brittania in our second season give possibly the finest master-class I’ve seen since Alan Hudson was in his pomp, when he just sat on the edge of the centre circle and ran the game for 90 minutes.
Admittedly we stood off him in rapt admiration for most of those 90 minutes but he was then, and incredibly (or worryingly, whichever way you want to look at it) still is the most accomplished midfielder in England.
I remember being at The Emirates last season and we were drawing 1-1 quite comfortably against a toothless Arsenal with about 20 minutes to go, and then van Persie came off the bench. Their was an audible groan (audible mainly due to the deafening silence from the Emirates faithful) from the away corner as we knew exactly what was about to happen. And it did. He scored twice in about ten minutes.
The other will inevitably be Robin van Persie.
Our centre back pairing of Huth & Shawcross (who I was convinced you’d be buying back in January) are arguably the best centre-back pairing in the Premier League currently, and they will have to be on tip-top form if we’re to get anything at all.
Finally, how do you think the game is going to pan out and what do you think the score will be?
I think we’ll look lively for about 15-20 minutes, and then, whether we score or not in that time, we’ll sit back and defend whatever it is we have. I fully expect you to runout 2-0 winners.
If you want a shout out for any website, just let me know here.
I’m making a book to thank Danny Boyle and his team for the inspirational, mind-blowing wonder that was the 2012 Opening Ceremony.
I’m asking anyone and everyone to submit photos of whatever it is that makes this isle wondrous to them – the Stretford End, oatcakes, M&S pants, their granny, a foxglove, Market Drayton open air swimming baths, bobble hats, Quavers – anything and everything that symbolises your love of the British Isles.
Just upload pictures via Instagram or twitter tagged #thiswondrousisle, or email them to email@example.com.
You can see all the pictures submitted thus far at www.thiswondrousisle.co.uk There’s over 1500 thus far and they’re really quite amazing.