Goals on Sunday: Stoke's Matthew Etherington on gambling, Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes
Stoke winger Matthew Etherington talks gambling, Tony Pulis and changing his playing style.
Last Updated: 19/12/13 11:35am
The 32-year-old's gambling addiction cost him a fortune and almost cost him his career but the former Spurs and West Ham player told Kammy and Ben on Goals on Sunday that his move to Stoke in 2009 couldn't have come at a better time.
Etherington said: "I lost my way a little bit towards the end at West Ham through no fault of anyone's but my own, so I just needed to get away and get a fresh start and that's when Tony Pulis came in for me and it felt right to leave at that time and it was the perfect time for me to go.
"It's been over four years since my last bet and I'm in a really happy place. I wouldn't say it's a daily challenge but you've got to keep on top of it and that's what I do. I go to GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and stay away from it and I'm managing that and I think I'll be fine.
"As crazy as it sounds gambling used to be all I would think about, I don't think of it anymore so that's always a good sign."
During his time at Stoke Etherington has reached an FA Cup final - which they lost to Manchester City in 2011 - and played in the Europa League the following season and says he loves the passion the Potters' fans bring to every game.
"I had five-and-half great years at West Ham and equally I've had five great years at Stoke," he added.
"It's a fantastic football club and great, great fans who are so passionate. We've had some great times; we've been in Europe, an FA Cup final and over-achieved really if we're being honest and it's been brilliant.
"It's some atmosphere when the fans are getting behind us, which they do week in week out. Just the other week during the Chelsea game when we won the atmosphere was unbelievable. They're very, very passionate fans and they love their football club."
Change of style
Mark Hughes took charge of Stoke in the summer after the club had spent seven years under the guidance of Tony Pulis; the now Crystal Palace manager was often criticised for his defensive long-ball style with the club, something Mark Hughes is attempting to dispel from their game.
Etherington told Kammy and Ben that their playing style under Pulis was often harshly criticised and that it's going to take time for them to change to Hughes' game.
"He's (Hughes) trying to get us to play a different way - more expansive definitely. It's not going to happen overnight, we've had some very good performances and some indifferent ones and we're a bit inconsistent at the minute.
"We are playing it out from the back, which encourages the two centre-halves to split and push the full-backs on. We can do it, we're just playing a more expansive style and you sacrifice a little bit of your defensive responsibilities and although we got a clean sheet yesterday (Saturday v Hull City) we're conceding more and we're a little bit too open.
"It's finding that happy medium and I'm sure we will. The longer the season goes on the better we'll be. You can see from the Chelsea game the signs of encouragement and I think we'll be fine it just needs a little bit of time to change the way we're playing.
"Under Tony it was more up-and-at-them definitely, but we played some good football at times. Don't get me wrong we did play it forward quickly but if you watched the games we also played some good football.
"We were aggressive in the sense that we pressed teams, we didn't give them a minutes peace on the ball, no space whatsoever and teams didn't like it and fans didn't like it because we were getting results. So they can say what they want to, we used to laugh it off."