Stoke right-back and nominal captain Andy Griffin has confirmed that he is set to leave the club this summer, after admitting his alleged rift with his manager Tony Pulis really does exist. Interestingly, the 30 year old has claimed that the fall-out between the two has nothing to do with his involvement in the on-pitch spat with Ricardo Fuller at West Ham in December, but after being a regular all season prior to that day, Griffin has hardly played since, so either he’s lying or there’s a major co-incidence here.
It’s goodbye to Griffin
Griffin, who began his career with Stoke in 1996, is currently in his fourth spell with the Potters, having most recently joined from Derby for a fee of £300,000 in January 2008, having initially chosen the Rams over Stoke the summer before, enticed by the glamourous world of the Premier League. By Christmas, it’s safe to say that most of the glamour had worn off for the Premier League’s worst ever side, and Griffin was very happy to head back to Stoke, earning himself a label as something of a mercenary with some Stoke fans.
Despite signing a four and a half year contract just over a year ago, and apparently harbouring the intention of seeing out his career at his first club, it now seems his Stoke career is over. He’s always lacked pace as a player, and when we were promoted I was worried that he would struggle against the pace and skill of the Premier League wingers, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well he coped in the early months of the season, as he put in some good displays, most notably as part of our back four that kept a heroic clean sheet at Anfield in September.
It’s just like watching Brazil
Since Griffin lost his place in the side, Andy Wilkinson, six years his junior, has been our regular right-back, and has coped admirably in the role, looking every bit the top flight player in his debut Premier League season. In the unlikely event that Griffin stays, I would be very surprised if he could ever win back his place above Wilkinson, and with us linked with signing several more right-backs this summer, including Stephen Kelly, who was preferred by Pulis to Griffin for a place on the bench for most of the second half of the season when he was on loan from Birmingham, Griffin is now a long way down the pecking order.
With several better options at right-back than Griffin now available to Pulis, it’s certainly most sensible to get him off the wage bill, especially if he’s bringing bad blood into the dressing room. If it leads to Abdoulaye Faye being made our permanent captain, I’m all for it.
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