Date: 13th September 2013 at 4:13pm
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City are in Stoke gearing up for a crucial clash with Leslie Hughes’ men. VMC caught up with Vital Stoke’s Lloyd for the very latest at The Britannia…

1. Hello again good people of Stoke! Here come reigning Premier League runners-up Manchester City. What’s the vibe at The Britannia? Shoot!

‘There was a number of disgruntled fans when the news broke that Leslie was taking over the reigns from fellow Welshman Tony Pulis, but Hughes has slowly turned it around with some exciting signings and a new style of play which is a much needed breath of fresh air around gloomy Stoke.’

2. Mark ‘Leslie’ Hughes. Thumbs up or Thumbs down? He’s experienced something of a rollercoaster ride since being fired at The Etihad. How do you think he’s doing so far at The Potters controls and is he still saying ‘obviously’ in almost every sentence in interviews and press conferences? Do you miss Tony Pulis?

‘Thumbs up from me! I was in the boat that I was always going to get behind Pulis’ replacement. I didn’t want our club to end up like a Blackburn or Chelsea, who didn’t even give their manager a chance to try and prove themselves. Hughes has brought in some exciting signings and plugged the gap at left back that we have been crying out for, for decades it seems. It gives the team an almost instant balance, and the reintroduction of certain playing staff has also given the whole side a lift.

‘I can’t say I’ve noticed that, but I will ‘obviously’ look out for that in future interviews from now on.

‘I only miss Pulis because of the man he was, not his style of play. He was so energetic and animated, and seemed to care for the club so much. I think it was the right time for him to go though, he will always be a legend in Stoke fans eyes for all that he has done for the club and the city as a whole. Love him or hate him, you can’t help but appreciate what he achieved.’

3. Head to Head. Where do you think City and Stoke will finish in the league and domestic cups come the days of reckoning next year?

‘I really don’t know how you’re going to finish up this season. I think you had an odd transfer window, bringing in players that didn’t really seem needed and overpaying on Fernandinho heavily. I think it will take Pellegrini a few months to adapt to the Premier League which will probably cost you a title challenge but I still think you will grab a champs league spot. You have been poor in the CL in recent years and with another tough group, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were in the Europa League come January once again.

‘You always do well in the cup competitions and if you can get a kind draw, I wouldn’t be surprised if you grab a bit of silverware.

‘For us, I would be ecstatic for a top 10 finish, which I think could be a real possibility if we can start to create more chances.

‘A cup run I think is on the cards as well, Sparky always seems to do well in the cups and I expect us to get to the Semi’s in the League Cup and maybe the Quarters in the FA Cup.’

4. Shot by both sides. The Dangermen. Who should City and also Stoke be paying closest attention to at The Britannia on Saturday?

‘A constant thorn in our side is Yaya Toure. He is just world class and always seems to show that whilst at the Britannia Stadium. He seems to thrive in the atmosphere and loves a good tussle.

‘Asmir Begovic has been on top form once again for us and no surprises that he has constantly been linked away to bigger sides than ourselves, and he will no doubt need to be in top form again at the weekend if we are to get anything from the fixture. I wouldn’t describe him as a dangerman though, so I’d have to go for one of our new signings. Arnautovic and Ireland could make their debuts and their total unpredictability will be a danger I believe.’

5. What do you make of ‘The Three Amigo’s’ appointments this year and how do you think they will fair? Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, David Moyes at the rags and Manuel Pellegrini at City?

‘Mourinho- He has seemed to come back to the Prem more mellow, but it’s the same old him. He will be ruthless and will get Chelsea playing some good stuff and they will be genuine title contenders with him at the helm. I think similar to yourselves, he does seem a bit top heavy on players at the club and it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with that situation.

‘Moyes- He could struggle or the quality of his squad could pull him through this first season. He has the hardest job in football; replacing Fergie. He still has a lot to learn, especially his presence with the media and it will be interesting how he deals with the bigger egos he has at OT. I still think they will be there or there abouts this season though.

‘Pellegrini- Comes to the Premier League with a stellar European record but as I’ve touched on before, I think he will take some time to adapt to the League and will come undone in a number of places a la Cardiff.’

6. Anyone for Shoot League Ladders and Panini Stickers? £100 million euro transfers, devious agents, daft salaries and crazy ticket prices Europe wide in a sea of Twitter finger pointing. Has football gone mad and will British and Irish national sides ever scale the heights again?

‘Football has always been a crazy old sport and just always adapts to the changing world and will continue to do so!

‘The British and Irish sides won’t scale the heights in my life time. Our grassroots coaching is way below par compared to other football heavyweights and until that is sorted we will continue to be average teams at best.

‘We don’t have enough players not playing their football on our home isles to ever be a success. We must have the lowest percentage of players playing in foreign countries in the whole world, and their must be a reasoning behind that.’

7. And so to battle. Your match prediction?

‘I’m feeling pretty confident. You’ve looked shaky at the back and we’re on a bit of a high and normally do well against you on our home turf. I think we could nick this 1-0, but the regular 1-1 result will probably occur. Good Luck at the weekend and the rest of the year.’

Very many thanks and respect going out to Lloyd and the Vital Stoke team.

VMC’s Skoorb Talks to Vital Stoke: Opposition view vs Man City (Home)

all times East Manchester BST

Sa 14 Sep 15h00 Stoke City, Britannia Stadium PL
Tu 17 Sep 20h45 Viktoria Plzen, Doosan Arena, CLGS1
Su 22 Sep 16h00 The rags, The Etihad PL
Tu 24 Sep 19h45 Wigan Athletic, The Etihad LC3
Sa 28 Sep 15h00 Aston Villa, Villa Park PL
We 2 Oct Bayern Munich, The Etihad, CLGS2
Sa 05 Oct 12h45 Everton, The Etihad PL
Sa 19 Oct 17h30 West Ham, Upton Park PL
We 23 Oct 17h00 CSKA Moscow, Arena Khimki CLGS3
Su 27 Oct 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge PL
Sa 02 Nov 15h00 GMT Norwich City, The Etihad PL
Tu 05 Nov 17h00 GMT CSKA Moscow, The Etihad CLGS4
Su 10 Nov 1405 GMT Sunderland, Stadium of Light PL
Su 24 Nov 13h30 GMT Spurs, The Etihad PL
We 27 Nov 19h45 GMT Viktoria Plzen, The Etihad CLGS5
Tu 01 Dec 16h10 GMT Swansea City, The Etihad PL
We 4 Dec 20h00 GMT West Brom, The Hawthorns PL

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