Nice examples today of the best of Stoke City on and off the pitch.
First, on the pitch, where in this football-free world we have been wondering which has been the best team in the club’s recent history.
So with the help of infogol, we pitted Stoke City v Stoke City x 10 from the Premier League era – a team from each season – against each other in a season which was simulated using an incredible amount of data and statistics.
The Classes of 2009 to 2018 took each other on home and away, twice, to mimic a full campaign – and the experiment was carried out 10,000 times to try to sieve out any anomaly.
It is a fun and fascinating project – and the clear winner were Mark Hughes’s side of 2014/15, the brilliant squad which blended Steven Nzonzi with Marko Arnautovic, Bojan, Jon Walters, Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan.
There were some terrific contenders too.
And one at the other end which will leave you wondering how it could have all unravelled.
Denise Coates Foundation donates £10m to hospital
The reaction from Stoke City favourites and supporters says a lot to the news that the Denise Coates Foundation is donating £10m to help staff and patients at Royal Stoke and the County Hospital.
“Denise Coates and the Coates family…” said Jon Walters. “Enough said.”
After all, Walters had been talking only recently about how football clubs were handling the economic crisis which has loomed from the coronavirus pandemic – and how Stoke were setting an example even to clubs who were in last season’s Champions League final.
Stoke, owned by the Coates family who employ more than 4,000 people at bet365, had pre-empted any Government initiative to assure match day staff would be paid for games postponed this season – and told employees there would no job losses or pay cuts through an uncertain, frightening summer.
The time George Best said he’d love to play for Stoke
‘I’m a massive football fan – but I’m also a nurse’
There have been loads of negotiations, plenty of suggestions and even more speculation about how, when or if the Premier League and EFL can finish the 2019/20 season.
There are only nine games left. Liverpool are on the verge of winning a long-awaited title, Leeds United are on the cusp of clinching a return to the top flight, Stoke City have fought so hard to pull clear of the Championship relegation zone.
But the world is in crisis.