Mark Hughes gave his pre-match tactical talk to the Stoke players at their London hotel last night. My spies were able to listen in on the master at work and have furnished me with a transcript of Sparky’s inspirational message:
“Right lads, we’ve got the press fooled good and proper. They seem to think that, because I played for Man Utd and Barcelona, my teams like to get the ball on the floor and pass around the opposition. I suppose, compared to Pulis, they aren’t far wrong but, let’s be honest, we prefer being hoof the ball merchants. Every side I’ve managed has realised that I like a good, old fashioned, physical tear up, with the ball spending as little time on the floor as possible. The only thing I want to see on the floor are opposition players! We’re alright for flair because we’ve got you, Jermaine Pennant. Just make sure don’t overdo any of that fancy crap. I know you played a couple of games for this lot so you must have some technical ability, but forget that – this is Stoke, and I’m Mark Hughes. If that Kieran Gibbs comes near you I want you to belt him, got it?
When I was a player I knew how to rough up a defender. There wasn’t a centre-half in England that didn’t feel the point of my right elbow at some time. I want you lot to realise that’s the way forward for this country. Have you got that John Walters? And don’t you dare take a f***ing penalty, neither.
Robbie Savage knew what I was talking about. I remember the FA Cup semi-final in 2005 when I sent him on to do a proper job on that cocky little p***k Fabregas. Robbie went right in on his knee. Nice one. Fair dos they stuffed us 3-0, but we left proper bruises, oh yes. Van Persie needed stitches in his gob after Andy Todd had got to him. Okay he’d just stuck away his second goal at that point, but Toddy made sure he was out of the game after that! That’s what I want to see from you lot in midfield – especially you Charlie Adam. Who knows, one day you could be the new Robbie Savage – it could be your privilege to make tea and biscuits on a Saturday night for Lineker and Shearer. If that’s not incentive then I don’t know what is.
This lot have got this German that they’ve paid money for – Oliz or something, he’s called. I bet he can’t do it on a wet Tuesday in Febuary at our place. Let him think it’s like that tomorrow. Huthy, I want you to let him know what it’s like to be a real German in the Premier League. Put “das boot” in on him and send him through the air like one of them doodlebugs.
Ryan, you know what to do with the other one in midfield – but try not to shatter his leg too badly this time, after all we’re all Welshmen together, aren’t we? Just a small fracture of the tibia ought to do, eh?
As for the rest of you, don’t forget that the way to beat Arsenal is to get in to them. They keep saying it on TV so let’s not let anyone down. The fans don’t want to see this namby pamby passing rubbish. Long ball and boot the opposition, that’s what this country is all about. I should know, I’ve been a success as a Manager.
I want to give you one real instruction to take in to the game boys. If you remember nothing else, just remember this – f***ing kick the soft, southern, foreign c***s!”
And a very good morning to all you Stoke fans out there.