Stoke City supporters have been significantly more upbeat in the Transfer Tavern in recent times after seeing their side record their first win of the Championship season on Saturday.
Gary Rowett’s men were tipped by many during the summer to be challenging for an immediate return to the Premier League this term, only to fail to win any of their opening four league games. And after a humbling 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic in midweek, the pressure was on the former Derby County boss ahead of the visit of Nigel Adkins’ Hull City, who they got the better of as a James McClean strike alongside an own goal from Tigers defender Jordy de Wijs sealed a 2-0 success for the Potters at the bet365 Stadium.
Consequently, there have been many thrilled Stoke fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom have been heaping praise on winger McClean, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday following his move from West Brom during the close season.
And while the Republic of Ireland international deserves huge credit for his exploits on Saturday, midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo, valued at £1.35 million by Transfermarkt, was their unsung hero in Staffordshire at the weekend.
The 22-year-old only made the move to Stoke during the summer after a short stint at Feirense, and he featured in all four of their Championship matches prior to Saturday’s visit of Hull to suggest that he is firmly part of Rowett’s plans at the second tier club.
And in his second Stoke start on Saturday, the Nigeria international shone in the centre of midfield to give the Potters the platform from which to go on and secure all three points.
The 22-year-old touched the ball on more occasions than any other player on the pitch (100) over the course of the 90 minutes, thus underlining that a lot of what Stoke did came through the midfielder, while his 91% pass success rate was higher than that of fellow central midfielder Joe Allen.
In fact, Etebo attempted and indeed completed more passes than any other Potters player on Saturday to underline his capabilities with the ball, and with two key passes during the game as well, he clearly has attacking instincts in him as well.
And while his on the ball capabilities were clear for all to see, so were his off the ball traits, with the Nigerian star winning his one and only aerial duel, as well as winning three of the five tackles he attempted.
Thus, it was clearly an excellent all round performance from Etebo to help Rowett’s men win their first game of the campaign, a performance which suggests that the 22-year-old could be a vital player for the Potters in their quest to win promotion this season.
Stoke fans… what do you think? Let us know!