What a storming start to the season Stoke City has had. The club sits in seventh place in the Premier League, having had probably the most testing start of all the teams. Tony Pulis’ men have quietly managed to grab five points from Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. And despite one slip up at The Stadium of Light, is a leading example to others coming up from The Championship to follow, especially given their success in the top tier over the last three seasons.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this beautiful game is how different styles work for different teams. Stoke doesn’t play football in the way Barcelona or Manchester United do, but the club plays with a sense of togetherness and intelligence, thriving off certain aspects, such as Rory Delap’s throw-ins, and this allows them to take on the very best. Stoke is moving from strength to strength and Sir Alex Ferguson should be very happy with his point at The Britannia Stadium.
Stoke City is often compared as brutish, aggressive, clumsy, old-fashioned and even morally objectionable. But this is ridiculous. The club simply doesn’t play football that can be worshipped, but that is no concern to Tony Pulis. Stoke has the motivation and desire, and it is these two factors that have propelled them into the top-half of the table and the side looks set to stay there. Pulis has a purpose in the game and injects this into his club. He is a master at tactical organisation, as we have seen from the performances against the country’s heavyweights. Stoke is often at the end of a lot of criticism from pundits and football fans who do not respect their style of play. But why play in a way which the club is not suited to?
Stoke has continued to progress, reaching the FA Cup final last season and as a result winning a place in the Europa League. So far, the side has been magnificent in Europe and by spending £20 million on transfer deadline day last month, bringing in England striker Peter Crouch among others, who knows how far the side could go? This scenario was improbable at best not so long ago, but Stoke has proved that it is very possible for a less fashionable club to break into the elite. The manager’s system is praised by all and City’s supporters are impressive. They never get on their players’ back and the sense of togetherness that I was talking about earlier is noticeable amongst the fans as well. A cauldron of noise and sheer enthusiasm is evident at all games; They’re a classic example of the crowd being a 12th man on the pitch.
The ambition that the club possesses is brilliant. Stoke is rapidly becoming a side that can beat anyone at home, and their next task is to become dangerous away from home and with Tony Pulis in charge, that is not far off. Stoke is improving all the time, in all areas, on and off the pitch. The club deserves a huge amount of credit and it’ll be interesting watching them continue this season. The Premier League has always needed clubs to break through into the established teams, and we may just have our first.