Why Jonathan Walters is pivotal to Stoke City’s success
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on March 4, 2016
Jonathan Walters has become a cult hero among the fans of Stoke City, and it is not hard to see why. But is it too far to say that he is still a key member of the Stoke City squad and is now just a bit part player? I analyse his performances below.
On the 18th of August 2010, Walters joined an ambitious Tony Pulis and his Stoke City side for £2.75 million from Ipswich, after he stated to Roy Keane that he wished to leave the club. He then made his first Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur on the 21st August, where Stoke suffered a 2-1 loss, even though Walters scored on his debut but the referee had missed it, therefore it never counted. His first goal for Stoke came in a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury Town in the League cup and his first Premier League goal came against Blackburn Rovers, where he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory. He earned praise from Pulis over his solid performances and he even capped off his first Stoke season by sending them to Wembley, after hitting a brace in the 5-0 rout over Bolton Wanderers in the F.A cup semi-final. He wasn’t able to finish his season with some silverware however, as Manchester City lifted the cup after defeating the hard-working Potters 1-0.
Walters continued to be a key role in the 2012-2013 season, most notably making a club record of 61 consecutive Premier League starts. Unfortunately, he was also noted for having a disastrous game vs Chelsea, missing a penalty and scoring two own goals. Nevertheless, he held his head up high and finished the season with eight Premier League goals and 11 goals across all competitions. This was the season Tony Pulis quit the Stoke City manager role, soon to be replaced with Mark Hughes
2013-14 was a mediocre season for Walters, as he was criticised for fluffing a penalty in the opening Premier League fixture against Liverpool. He was also sent off for the first time in his professional career after a high challenge on Alexander Tettey. However, he also managed to play in 102 consecutive games, a marvellous feat by anybody’s standards. He finished with 5 goals in 36 matches as he attempted to familiarise himself with Mark Hughes’ tactics and formations.
Walters understood what was needed from him under Hughes in the 2014-2015 season, as he became the first Stoke City player to score a hat trick in a 3-1 win over QPR. Furthermore, after scoring winning goals vs Swansea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, he celebrated his 50th Stoke goal after a famous victory against Liverpool, with the final scoreline 6-1.
Speculation in his future began to rise after a couple of high profile signings, such as Joselu and Shaqiri. He also only had one year of his contract left, and with Norwich City showing a large amount of interest in him, he handed in his transfer request. In spite of this, he wasn’t able to make a switch as the summer transfer window closed. After scoring back to back goals against Leicester and Bournemouth and by showing a good run of form, he was handed a new contract, extending his stay at Stoke for an extra two and a half years. Currently, he has made 16 appearances for Stoke City in the Premiership and has bagged four goals.
So, how come he is crucial to Stoke now, even when they have the likes of Bojan, Shaqiri and Afellay hitting top form? The answer is simple. His commitment and dedication to the sport has been unparalleled, even when the times have been tough for him and his future is in doubt, he always strives to give 110% in all of the games that he has been a part in. His energy and team spirit has wonderful effects on his team mates, they are able to up their game and perform better as a result. He adapts in the way in which the manager wishes and he is a magnificent all-around player, who still plays a vital role in an aspiring Stoke City side.