The announcement that Jermaine Pennant was departing the Britannia for a loan stint at Championship side Wolves brings to an end a sorry chapter in the player’s career in the Potteries, one that had begun so positively.
Although of course Pennant is set to return to the Britannia upon the expiration of his loan deal, the reality is that with the player hardly featuring for Tony Pulis’ men so far this season, the move to the Black country essentially marks the end of his Stoke City career.
So where did it all go wrong for the former Liverpool man, who’s performances when he first arrived at the Britannia saw him knocking on the door of the England squad. However, after an impressive 2010-11 season on loan at the Britannia earned him a permanent move at the end of the season, Pennant just appeared to take his eye off the ball somewhat.
Indeed, his performances last season starkly differed to that of the season before and despite making 40 appearances in all competitions, Pennant failed to register a single goal and though he has hardly been a prolific player in his career, for a player of his calibre that is a very poor record.
Pennant’s decline certainly did not go unnoticed by the management, who slowly began to limit the player’s appearances as a starter and the breakdown in the relationship between the player and Tony Pulis, one that had been so strong upon Pennant’s arrival, unsurprisingly added to the difficulties surrounding him at the Britannia. Indeed, the 29-year-old’s angry reaction on Twitter after being deployed at right-back for a 2-0 defeat at Wigan towards the end of last season spoke volumes of just how far things had deteriorated.
At Stoke, Pulis has never taken too well to player dissent, as shown by the examples of Dave Kitson and James Beattie, who were both quickly shooed out of the club after falling out with the Welshman. With Pennant hardly setting the world alight at the Britannia this season, it suddenly became a very easy decision for the Stoke manager to make.
On reflection, Pennant’s move represents a well-trodden path for the player, who often performs brightly in his first few months at a new club before seeming to settle into a comfort zone and just lose his way. In his younger days it could perhaps be excused but at the age of 29, Pennant is running out of chances to prove his worth at the top level.
Indeed, Stoke look unlikely to miss his presence too much, not with Michael Kightly, the man who Pennant is ironically replacing at Wolves, proving a real fans favourite with his pace and work-rate, as well as Matthew Etherington on the come-back trail after a difficult few weeks with injury.
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