Ahead of today’s game with Stoke City, we spoke with Paul Ruane a year after interviewing him about the club’s clash last season.
Just a reminder to the ‘viewers’ how long have you supported Stoke City and why did you choose them as your team?
I’ve supported the Not So Mighty Potters seriously for 27 years. Prior to that, I followed their progress, but didn’t attend matches. Supporting them is a birth rite, as I was born and raised in the Potteries.
Nowadays, I try to find some enjoyment by watching U14s up to U18s, U23s, first team, and when I can fit them in, the ladies team.
What’s your favourite moment as a fan? Season, game or anything other occasion or mention any other football related event you’ve witnessed
Seeing academy product Tom Edwards score his first goal from right back against Norwich City in April. He scored it in front of the Boothen End. I stood and applauded from the moment it hit the back of the net until the match kicked of again, with a smile on my face. There wasn’t a great deal to smile about last season, but this was brilliant for a lad I’ve followed through the academy.
Tell us about a player that you were proud to have on the back of a shirt, if you didn’t is there one you wished you would have?
Again. It has to be Tom Edwards. I’m not one for having a players name on my shirt, but I had it on from August in the season that he made his debut for the first team away at Man City in October. His family were so proud.
What’s your most memorable match playing against Leeds United and your reaction to last season’s home win over Leeds that surprised many, me included!
Last season was pretty awful, so yes, it has to be the 2-1 victory in January.
Nathan Jones had only got one point from his first four games in charge, so we needed the win. He didn’t play the diamond formation, instead opting for 3-5-2. The goal by Clucas early in the second half gave us belief and even though we had less than 30% possession, from the moment Pontus got his marching orders, there was only going to be one winner.
The late goal by Joe Allen was the icing on the cake. By this time I was in my wife’s bad books; I had forgotten to put our bets on at the bookies and she had gone for a 2-1 win with Clucas scoring first, but I couldn’t see Leeds scoring. Sadly, my blushes were not spared when Alioski scored a 95th minute consolation ☹
Are you happy with your dealings in this summer transfer windows so far? Is there any player you’d love to bring into your starting eleven? (Messi and Ronaldo cannot be considered!) and who you think is the best signing a Championship club have made.
We have shopped in the bargain basement this summer with five free transfers and three loans. We spent money on a right back who doesn’t look as good as Tom Edwards, a left back who can’t get in the match day squad and a centre back. After years of squandering tens of millions on poor signings, this came as a reality check to most supporters.
The way we are playing at the moment, we could probably make even Messi and Ronaldo look like Sunday league players. The best Championship signing will be whoever fires us back into the Premier League!
What’s your hopes for the next season? Top ten or do you think you can make the top six with the squad you have?
My hopes for this season took a major blow after the debacle at Preston on Wednesday. Even though we only drew at home to Derby last Saturday, there was a renewed optimism among a lot of supporters that things were starting to click into place. We were playing entertaining football and creating chances. I was fortunate enough to watch all of the Potters training sessions at the training camp in the Netherlands [the manager agreed to this, so no binoculars needed]; I could finally see his ideas bearing fruit.
What a difference a few days make! If we play like we did against Derby, then top six is not beyond our reach. If we play like we did at Preston, then bottom six is nailed on and Nathan Jones may well be managing a team in League One again, if he lasts that long.
Who are your three for the drop?
Wigan, Millwall and QPR. Hopefully not Stoke 😉
Your thoughts on the upcoming EFL season and who are the teams you consider will be in the top six of the Championship in May?
Looks like a competitive Championship. Top six – Leeds, Fulham, West Brom, Forest, Derby and SCFC. Sadly, this may be Swansea City rather than Stoke City!
Who’s your danger man?
Sadly, a lot of our players are a danger to us at the moment. Confidence drains away to leave a bunch of nervous wrecks. On a more positive note, if we can keep him fit, Nick Powell looks a very good signing. Last season I predicted that Peter Etebo would take the Championship by storm; he started slowly, but was one of our better players during Nathan Jones’s first twenty games in charge.
Can you tell us about a rising star in the youth ranks?
In March I wrote the following for the local newspaper in an article they did on academy prospects “Centre half Nathan Collins, who is still only seventeen, continues to sparkle. I think that he is a better prospect than Harry Souttar at the same age.
He may not be ready for the squad next season, but has stepped up effortlessly from U18s to U23s, so who knows?”.
His chance came sooner than I expected, as a sub at Swansea in April after we had been reduced to nine men. Talk about a baptism of fire! He made his full debut ten days later at Middlesbrough. He has now turned eighteen, captained the Carabao Cup team at Wigan last week. He could be the real deal.
Prediction and scorers for the game?
We’ve only got one point from the last four league games, so fingers crossed that lightning strikes twice. A 3-5-2 formation with a 2-1 win to the Potters and I’ll remember to put my wife’s bet on. Goals from Scott Hogan and Tyrese Campbell with a late consolation from Kilch.
If we play like we did at Preston, then you will rip our diamond to shreds. We’ll lose 5-0 with goals from Bamford, Nketiah, Kilch, Harrison and Clarke.
We’d like to thank Paul for coming back for Round 2 and wish him the best of luck for the season.
By Keith Ingham