Revealed: The failed Stoke City signing who was never even given a medical


Former Stoke City midfielder Michael Tonge has revealed how he wasn’t given a medical when he joined the Potters.

Tonge was signed by City from Sheffield United in 2008 for £2m, but to his surprise, he completed the move to Staffordshire without ever having a medical.

Speaking on the Undr the Cosh podcast, the midfielder revealed how the move came about.

“I found out about Stoke, I got a call at 10:15 on the Tuesday, bombed it over to Sheffield and Kev Blackwell was there.

“I was expecting a chat with him and Sam Ellis where he was going to give me his opinion on it, and basically all he said was ‘I don’t want you to go but I have been told not to persuade you to stay’.

“When he said that, I was thinking in my head ‘Stoke are in the Premier League, and we are obviously in the Championship’.

“We were pushing, but it wasn’t a case of which league they were in, if you have got someone saying that to them you just think…”

He added: That’s why it was a difficult decision, I had no time to discuss it with anyone, I just had to make the decision and them saying that, it made my decision for me if you like.

Asked if he had a medical upon signing, Tonge replied: “No, there wasn’t time to have a medical or anything. I just went in there.

“I hadn’t had a major injury or anything like that, but yeah, I went in there.”

The midfielder enjoyed a successful time at Sheffield United before his disappointing stint at Stoke.

Tonge won promotion with Sheffield United in 2006, spending nine years in all at Brammall Lane.

Michael Tonge battles with Jermain Defoe.

He would spend five years with the Potters, but most of that time was out on loan, making just 12 league appearances after his £2m move, which was difficult from the off.

“It was a really surreal feeling for me,” added Tonge. “It was quite an emotional time because I had been there (Sheffield United) for a long period. I was in Sheffield and I’ve left the ground and thought ‘that’s me done now, then’.

“I spoke to Sam Ellis who spoke to Tony Pulis because he knew him.

“I said ‘can I just get my gear tomorrow and I’ll come in on Thursday or something like that?’ And he (Pulis) just said ‘No, I need you in tomorrow’.

“I was thinking ‘well I ain’t got my boots’. I had a flat in Sheffield at the time so I just went to the flat, got my boots and I went into Stoke the next day and that was that.”

He continued: “I went into Stoke the next day and found it really difficult going.

“Not necessarily because of the club, I had just been at Sheffield since I was 16 for basically 10 years and you are so used to a certain environment, I had never known anything different and nobody likes change, do they?

“I have gone in there and that was, with football, when I realised what it’s really like.

“With Sheffield, I was in a massive bubble when I knew everyone and it was a family environment, then I went to Stoke and it was just a completely different situation.

“What makes it easier at a new club, is when you first go in there and you start playing straight away.

“What I quickly worked out was, Tony Pulis – and I actually really like him – he bought me to play sort of wide midfield, on the left or the right, but I hadn’t been playing wide, I was playing centre.

“I had played on the left-hand side for Sheffield United for a period of time and I ended up staying there for a while, but I had shifted back inside to my natural position.

Tony Pulis had a routine when he was going to drop a player for a Stoke home game.

“I went in there as a squad player. He hadn’t thought I would go in and play, it was a last minute thing when he just thought ‘I need numbers in’.”

Tonge admitted he found it ‘difficult to settle’ at Stoke, though that wasn’t down to then manager Pulis.

“I came on as substitute, but I just never played and it was just really difficult for me because I had been used to playing,” he added.

“I just found it really difficult to settle in there.

“In fairness to Tony Pulis, he is probably better with the lads who aren’t in the team than the ones who are playing. He is harsher to the ones who are playing.

“He is very much about the whole group and everybody being in it together.”





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