In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio Stoke, owner Norman Smurthwaite has strongly criticised Anthony Grant for his conduct against Fleetwood but reiterates he wants to keep the player.
- Grant’s behaviour against Fleetwood was a disgrace and unprofessional.
- Management could not have prevented Grant re-entering the pitch as he circumnavigated the normal access.
- The outcome of the FA charges against Grant (an additional five match ban) are better than the club anticipated.
- However, despite Grant being on the transfer list he wants to keep the midfielder but if there is a repetition of his Fleetwood behaviour then he wouldn’t want to keep him.
- He believes there is a wider discipline problem at the club which he will address.
- There is interest in defender Nathan Smith from at least one Premier League club.
- He hopes to retain Alex Jones after the January transfer window but no deal has been agreed yet.
On Anthony Grant’s FA ban…
Nobody could have stopped him, for all the things I am reading that the management should have held him back…
“The fact that he circumvented the normal access on to the pitch to go and remonstrate with the referee showed that he had intent. So, nobody could have stopped him, for all the things I am reading that the management should have held him back.
“I was very disappointed. I understand he was very upset because he got a second yellow card which he shouldn’t have got. In fact he shouldn’t have got the first yellow card in fairness because he got the ball. But professionals don’t conduct themselves in that way. He didn’t hit anybody but he put himself in danger as far as the FA is concerned, and the outcome is one that is better than we anticipated.”
On Grant’s future…
“I don’t want to lose him, I want to keep him. I think he is an asset to the football club. But I don’t want him if that is his attitude that was demonstrated at the Fleetwood game. If that is what is in his head then no I don’t want him to stay.”
“I personally take a bit of blame for the issues with the club because the buck stops with me. I try not to be too controlling on creative people and I think that we have a discipline problem within the club which now has to be deal with, and that is from the management down.”
Smurthwaite says he is aware of interest from one Premier League club in defender Nathan Smith.
He also says he wants to keep Alex Jones at the club after the forward’s loan runs out in January but an agreement hasn’t yet been reached.