Matthew Etherington has signed a new contract with Stoke, committing himself for four more years at the Britannia Stadium. After winning the club’s Player of the Year award last season, Etherington was quickly tied down by the Potters.
Manager Tony Pullis knows how rare decent left wingers are and didn’t want to risk losing his man. The former West Ham player has been an integral part in turning Stoke into a Premier League force. His £2 million transfer from West Ham in January 2009 looks like an absolute bargain now.
Those who bet Premier League money often will be aware that it hasn’t all been rosy for Etherington. He admitted to losing nearly £1.5million on gambling when he was living in London. The move away from the capital has turned his life around and that has been evident from his performances. He was one of the names mentioned for a place in the England World Cup squad.
He wasn’t called up but has cemented his reputation as one of the best left wingers in the Premiership. The former Peterborough player is now focused on helping Stoke push on this year. Tony Pullis’s team surprised everybody last year to finish 11th in the league.
The secret to Stoke’s success is that no team enjoys playing them. They aren’t afraid to get stuck in when it matters. Stoke are one of the league’s top scorers from set-pieces. Be it an Etherington corner, a free kick or a Rory Delap wonder throw, Stoke posses a big strong team who like to get their head on the ball. If Pullis can bring in a couple more players they could go even better than last year.
Elsewhere, for those of you who bet championship money regularly will want to pay attention to the fact that Middlesbrough have been installed as favourites for promotion to the Premier League.