Whelan warning for Stoke
Published 03/05/2011 | 15:25
Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan has warned his team-mates they must forget their five-star performance in the FA Cup semi-finals because it will mean nothing unless they match it in the final against Manchester City.
The Potters thrashed Bolton 5-0 at Wembley two weeks ago in one of the most one-sided last-four clashes in the competition's history.
It was a stunning result considering the teams were expected to be evenly matched, and Whelan hopes it will go some way to shaking off Stoke's image as a team that rely solely on set-pieces.
The 27-year-old said: "Winning 5-0 we've maybe changed a few people's minds but we know you're only as good as your last game so we'll put that to the back of our minds.
"It was a great day and a great occasion but we haven't done anything yet. It's only a semi-final, we want to win the final."
The Wembley date with City on May 14 will be the culmination of three years in the Barclays Premier League where Stoke have consistently defied expectations under manager Tony Pulis.
Whelan hailed the achievements of the Welshman, who began his second spell with the Potters in 2006 before winning promotion to the top flight two years later.
"He's done really well, and since I've been at Stoke we've improved every year, points-wise and position in the league," said Whelan, a £500,000 signing from Sheffield Wednesday in January 2008.
"To think this season we could finish in the top 10 and be in an FA Cup final, it's unbelievable.
"The manager would be the first one to say we've stuck together through thick and thin. Everyone's going to have their downs but it's how you react to that. We've reacted really well and hopefully we can keep doing that.
"It's been a big change over the last few years. We've become a team to be reckoned with and I don't think there's too many teams who want to be playing Stoke week in, week out."
It has been a mixed season for Whelan personally, with the Republic of Ireland international finding himself out of the team for a lengthy spell around the turn of the year before winning his place back in February.
Perhaps surprisingly for a player known for his goals, particularly from long range, Whelan has so far drawn a blank this season, something he would love to address against his former club a week on Saturday.
He added: "I'll take one off the backside if it means Whelan scores in the cup final. Obviously if I could score it would be great for myself and my family but whoever scores, if we win it's great for everyone."
A source of justified pride for Stoke is that they head into the cup final knowing they will definitely be playing Premier League football for a fourth successive season.
Since beating Bolton, the Potters have picked up five points from three games with draws against Aston Villa and Blackpool and a 3-0 win over Wolves to climb to 10th place, and it was a message Pulis was determined to get across.
Whelan said: "That was the massive thing after the semi-final, the manager was on about he wanted to finish in the top 10 and in the last three games we've got three positive results. Hopefully we can keep the form going right to the end of the season."