Lou Macari: Stoke City must go to Hull and back to save themselves this season


“If Stoke could have handpicked this weekend’s fixture I bet it would have been Hull City at home.

That’s exactly what they’ve got, of course, and they’d better make it count.

Hull are in total free fall and on their way down at their current rate of knots.

I saw them on the telly on Saturday and they were in such disarray that Leeds continually carved them open and looked like scoring every time they attacked.

There seemed to be no spirit there whatsoever.

They sold their two best players just before the deadline – Kamil Grosicky to West Brom and Jarrod Bowen to West Ham – and it must have twisted the knife on Saturday when Bowen scored his first goal for the Hammers.

I’m guessing those two have got them out of trouble a time or two this season, but not anymore.

Losing them when they did would have been a massive blow for players and supporters alike – and their manager Grant McCann.

I’m assuming he’s never been in this kind of nosedive before and without that previous experience as a manager you can be found wanting.

Jarrod Bowen… now in West Ham’s colours

It’s 10 games to go at the bottom of the Championship and all to play for.

This is when it really begins to bite.

I mentioned Hull’s lack of spirit, but Stoke’s took a knock with losing that late equaliser at Luton on Saturday.

That was a kick in the teeth, particularly because it was such a soft penalty, but there literally is no time for them to feel sorry for themselves.

With Wigan looking like potential champions all of a sudden – what with wins at Leeds and now West Brom in the past few weeks – it’s a real melting pot down in the lower reaches of the Championship.

I still can’t believe Stoke are down there, but they are and at home in particular, they really have to keep picking up big points like they have been in recent weeks.

Their next four games are against Hull, Reading, Middlesbrough and Wigan, so it’s very much in their hands and they know they need plenty of points from those matches before the fixtures start to look even tougher on paper.

I’ve been telling everyone that Liverpool won’t go the whole Premier League season unbeaten, however well they’ve been doing, because you’re always going to have at least one off day over that length of time.

And you have to say it was quite an off day at Watford on Saturday.

It looked like all 11 players were off colour and Virgil van Dijk, to pick on just one player, suddenly looked like a lower league defender.

Even at 1-0 down they were still knocking the ball around at the back with no apparent urgency to save themselves.

I don’t know if it was a bit of complacency creeping in or not, but hats off to Watford because they were certainly up for a shock result and fully deserved it.

* Follow Lou on Twitter @LouMacari10

Much as I love the FA Cup, I’m tempted to boycott the TV coverage this week after they gave all ties a midweek kick off.

The only thing we can be certain of is that Wayne Rooney won’t be rested for Derby against Manchester United, even if his manager wants him to put his feet up.

He’ll be desperate to play against his old club and he can be sure of a fantastic reception off the travelling fans.

I noticed how everyone was saying what a great occasion and atmosphere it was in the League Cup final between Man City and Aston Villa.

Well there’s a surprise.

Perhaps a short video should be delivered to all those managers who made multiple changes to their teams earlier in the competition.”





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