8 December 2009 ~ Birmingham City fans can be forgiven for wondering what they've let themselves in for with their club's recent ownership change. No sooner had the previous regime slunk off than new chairman Vico Hui introduced himself to St Andrews with the words: "We are very proud to become part of this great club and the Blues family... Keep Right On. I love you all!" Meanwhile, the PR system pumped out We Are Family by Sister Sledge. The latest tale of the "charismatic" Hui is that he agreed to pay for the players' Christmas party after losing a pint-downing bet with the club's reserve goalkeeper. But whatever the excesses at St Andrews, it is better than all the trouble the party season has caused at Stoke City.

The major story to arise from the weekend's round of matches was the disagreement between Stoke manager Tony Pulis and striker James Beattie after their 2-0 defeat to Arsenal. The dispute apparently arose when the club's players were told to turn up for Monday training, something that Beattie spoke out against as he had believed the squad had been granted a day off, following a planned party in London on Sunday. The confrontation escalated from there.

A number of newspapers have chosen to align themselves with either the manager or the player. This morning, in an "exclusive", the Daily Mail went into detail on the nature of the Stoke manager's embarrassing behaviour. Indeed, the Mail was the only paper to claim that Pulis was naked when attempting to headbutt Beattie: "As he was emerging from the showers in the dressing room he lunged towards Beattie, with the players astonished both by the violence and the fact that the towel he was wearing had fallen to the floor." The mind boggles, had Pulis even removed his trademark baseball cap?

In the Sun meanwhile, Ian Wright supported the "old-school" Pulis, while ranting about Beattie and a lack of respect for managers: "Incidents in dressing rooms are increasing as player power becomes more of an issue... The problem is that many footballers' egos are now massive. Pulis, who reminds me of my old manager at Burnley Stan Ternent, continues to do a terrific job at Stoke. I admire him for that. It would not surprise me if he moves Beattie on in January. The problem is that there will always be someone, ready to take on a certain player, regardless of the situation." Last month too the Times ran a sympathetic feature on Pulis, based around his perceived "common touch" and no-nonsense approach, including an insight into how the Stoke manager views himself: "I'm old-fashioned, very working-class and the training ground, it is first and foremost a place of work."

So there are clear differences between Pulis and Beattie, not necessarily personal but definitely based around more than just the timetabling of a Christmas party. The manager is proudly and defiantly traditional in his character and methods. The player, meanwhile, is very much a modern footballer, one of an increasing number of multi-millionaire, mid-range players whose career is profitably established, despite never having looked particularly comfortable at the top level. Many suggest that following the row Beattie will move away from Stoke in the January transfer window. It has even been rumoured that his agent has been in touch with Birmingham City. He'd certainly get extravagant parties as a member of the Blues family, possibly even bankrolled by the chairman himself.

Comments (8)
Comment by kbmac 2009-12-08 15:42:34

There are two sides to every story obviously and as I am privy to neither side I will not comment on the rights and wrongs of the argument. What I would say is that each party should think long and hard before letting this disagreement mark the end of their relationship as it has been pretty beneficial to both parties until now. Beattie, as your article points out, hasn't quite cut the mustard at the very top level and was forced to drop down a division to re-establish himself as a scorer. Pulis took the punt last January and in many respects it was one of the best pieces of business done in the Premiership that season. Suddenly Stoke had a scorer of goals and suddenly James Beattie was back playing at the top level albeit in the lower reaches. Whether the sight of Pulis without baseball cap was just too horrific to ever risk seeing again or whether James has perhaps laid the final straw we don't know but if they can I suggest they kiss and make up. For both their sakes.

Comment by Lucy Waterman 2009-12-08 18:28:11

Ouch. James Beattie's scored more than 80 top-flight goals, and looks a fair bet to break 100 before the end of his career. What do you have to do to cut it in the Premiership, then?

Comment by kbmac 2009-12-08 20:15:43

A bit harsh maybe? Ok, fair point. Still think he is not quite as good as he thinks he is and think he might be well advised to stay where he is.

Comment by Janik 2009-12-09 13:27:25

"looks a fair bet to break 100 before the end of his career."

He has two all season. At that sort of rate he would still have to be playing in the top flight in his forties. The same story as his time at Everton, an explosive start but then not much.

The stupid thing about the argument is that the Stoke players wanted Monday off so they could go on a two-day bender in London. As it was they still went out on saturday night, as they had planned.

Comment by t.j.vickerman 2009-12-09 13:56:15

Quite unreasonable of that man Pulis to demand his squad of professional footballers to report for a couple of hours of training a mere 2 days after a tame performance and defeat!

Comment by sampson 2009-12-09 15:47:55

"There are two sides to every story obviously and as I am privy to neither side"

That goes for you, me and every Journalist/pundit that has commented on this story.

Please note that no one at Stoke, including Pulis and Beattie, ahs made a statement about this "incident" and that the people who do know the truth have not and will not be making it public.

One thing though, as the poster above points out Beattie has a great goal scoring record. He scored the most goals of all the English players in the Prem in the second half of last season, i.e. from the time he joined Stoke.

Have a bit of respect and at least get the facts you can check right! I know the article is based around (someone elses) pure conjecture, but this is just plain lazy.

Comment by stuart77 2009-12-09 17:54:31

"The latest tale of the "charismatic" Hui is that he agreed to pay for the players' Christmas party after losing a pint-downing bet with the club's reserve goalkeeper."

more on this please! Pints of what? How many pints did he get through? He sounds like an exchange student learning about English 'culture', from a bunch of footballers, class.

Comment by el gato negro 2009-12-10 15:18:54

I think this is the drinking challenge story. "Doyle, behind Joe Hart and Maik Taylor in the pecking order at St Andrews, promptly emptied his vessel in an astonishing 2.5 seconds to the delight of team-mates."

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