How do you rate Stokes’s start to the season and pre season?
We had a pre-season tour of the USA which went well – two wins and loss as well as a win at Wrexham and a draw against Genoa. It could’ve been better and could’ve worse but ultimately it has set us up for what will be a mediocre season and a defeat in our first game against Liverpool was always on the cards.
Tony Pulis has been replaced by Mark Hughes. What are your thoughts on the appointment?
I think Tony was a great servant to the club for many years and our transformation to a Premier League club was down to him but I think his time was up. A lot of fans wanted a new direction but I’m not sure we’re going to get that with Mark Hughes. It doesn’t feel like the most inspiring appointment.
Hughes has made a couple summer signings including your namesake Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa. How have they settled in and have they improved our squad?
Given our recent transfer policy, I thought it might have been me who’d been signed! I’ve taken quite a ribbing from mates about the Erik Pieters signing but in fairness he looks a really good player. Marc Muniesa is a young defender from Barcelona with a lot of potential. I’m also excited about Juan Agudelo, the U.S.A forward we’ve got on a pre-contract agreement. Overall the signings have improved the squad but we still need a few more faces
What other area of the squad do you think Stoke should improve in the summer?
Last season we needed a goal scorer and unfortunately that hasn’t changed. Hopefully Juan Agudelo will be that player.
Jermaine Pennant left the club and was re-signed by Hughes. Do you think this is last chance at the club?
In a word, yes. I was surprised to see us re-sign him given his performances last season but if Hughes has seen something in him and can get him to up his game then we have to trust him.
Michael Owen retired in the summer. Was that a blow for Stoke?
In another word, no. He contributed very little last season and it was good to get him off the wage bill especially with the new regulations coming in.
With the arrival of Jack Butland in January have you been surprised that Asmir Begovic hasn’t been sold this summer?
I thought that was Tony’s plan for this summer but it all depended on Asmir wanting to go which he didn’t. Jack Butland is still young and will be our number one in years to come.
Who should West Ham fans be wary of?
Peter Crouch can cause problems for defenders and so can Walters (as long as he doesn’t take a penalty!). Kightly has also been in good form in pre season.
Which West Ham players stand out for you?
I’ve always been a fan of Andy Carroll – he reminds me of a good Crouch! Other than that I like Winston Reid and am surprised one of the big teams hasn’t come in for him.
Last season you predicted that Stoke would finish 10th and West Ham would slip to 15th. What is your prediction for this season?
I think we’ll be 14th and you’ll finish 12th.