Why Liverpool’s £6m duo must be our priority!

Football FanCast guest columnist Joe Bevan feels that Stoke City boss Tony
Pulis should make Liverpool duo his priority, when the January window opens.

When Paul
Merson claimed at the start of the season that he felt that Stoke City were
capable of staying up, he was laughed out of town. Merson, unlike his other
Premiership blinkered panellists, appreciates the work ethic of our football
club, the steely determination of the players and of course how tough it is for
teams to come up to the Britannia Stadium, we have started better than anyone
could have expected and when you look at our scalps like Aston Villa, Spurs, Arsenal
and a point at Anfield, then you know we deserve to be here on merit.

Don't get
me wrong, I'm not getting carried away and appreciate that there is still
plenty of work to be done, but it does rile me that we fail to get the respect
we deserve. Hull City beat Spurs, Arsenal, and was highly praised; we do the
same and the media looks at the failings of the opposition, rather than credit
our own performance – it is totally unfair and I really feel for Tony Pulis,
who clearly is never going to get any praise despite of what we achieve this
season.

My one
criticism of us and I think I speak for most Stoke fans, is that we tend to be
complacent in the kind of games that realistically we should be picking up
points in. Beating Arsenal and Villa is one thing, but these were never the
kind of games at the start of the season that Pulis would have expected a
return from. We need to be competing against the lower level teams in the
Premier League and believe we can beat them when we step out on the pitch, unfortunately
I think that is lost on a lot of our players and that is why Pulis needs to
bring in proven Premiership quality in the January window.

The big
rumours over the weekend is that Pulis is looking to succeed where he failed in
the summer and try an entice Jermaine Pennant to the Britannia Stadium. Having
already agreed a fee with Liverpool, it was deemed a done deal at the time, but
for whatever reason Pennant couldn't agree personal terms and the plug was
pulled, much to the annoyance of Rafa Benitez, who has used the winger
sparingly all season – the Spaniard clearly wants to cash in on him and we can
only hope that this time that the player will accept what is on offer.

Another Liverpool
star who I would also like to see arrive is Sami Hyypia, a player that Rafa was
willing to let go having agreed a deal, but then changed his mind at the final
hour. Hyypia is vastly experienced centre half and will really bring a cool
head to our backline, which is lacking at present. He maybe the wrong end of
30, but there is definitely another two years left in the Finn and I feel he
would be a worthy addition.

So where
else should we look to improve and do you agree that the two Liverpool men,
along with a striker to replace the hapless Kitson, should be our main priority
in January?