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Why I’m Optimistic About Stoke City’s Chances This Season

Photo by Kenwyne Jones

Now that the English Premier League season has begun, I have became interested in the movement around Stoke City, the club who often seem to be facing tough odds against top teams in the Premier League.

I am not a Stoke City supporter but reading all the transfer deals that have been taking place, Stoke has caught my attention. Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, has been busy in attempting to strengthen his side with new arrivals and doing it on the cheap. I have been impressed by Stoke in their attempt to strengthen their squad. Unfortunately this is something I am not seeing at Spurs, I am sad to say. I am not going to make any bold comments about a league title win or anything close to that but they Stoke could make things interesting and perhaps create some surprises along the way. Isn’t that what most neutrals want?

Granted Stoke isn’t a Manchester United, Man City or a Chelsea but they do have some talented individuals in their squad. From what I have witnessed I think Matthew Etherington, Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones are just a few of the quality players. Plus, Stoke can be a very stubborn team to beat in addition to their ability to pull off surprise upsets for a middle tier team. They were able to advance to the FA Cup final last season and played a tough and hard match against Manchester City and doing so booked their place in the Europa League. Although not Champions League football, Stoke will be able to showcase their talent to some of the top sides in Europe this season.

An impressing signing so far is former Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate. The injury plagued player has made a surprising turnaround and has had a positive pre-season. I know some will say Woodgate is over the hill or too risky. I will admit I am a huge Woodgate fan. But if Woodgate stays fit I think Stoke may have gotten the best deal out of the summer transfer market. You can’t beat a free transfer and Spurs might end up kicking themselves in the end. From what I saw of his performance against Hajduk Split in the Europa League play offs, I was very impressed considering his long absence from playing. Stoke has also brought in Matthew Upson on a free transfer from West Ham. Again another player that some may consider his best days being over, but a fresh start with a new club could be just what Upson needs. Certainly Pulis is attempting to strengthen up the defense with already established defenders Huff and Shawcross practically in the center. Stoke now have a strong defense that can push their players even harder to improve their playing ability.

Currently Stoke are in talks with Tottenham in the hopes of securing Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios. I have really never been a fan of Palacios. I will say he is an aggressive football player and I do like that, but I think he needs to improve his overall playing ability. A new club could provide that for him. I do like Crouch. Although I will admit I have been disappointed in his performances last season at least in league games and think he can do a lot better. Crouch could be a good addition for Stoke.  Stoke has made it clear they are in need of improving their front. His European record has been impressive for Spurs and European teams did have trouble containing him. Since Stoke are in the Europa League that could provide them with a great asset. His height is a great advantage on the field and just like Palacios a new team could turn his fortunes around. Furthermore, Pulis has been in discussion with Joey Barton’s agents about a possible move to Stoke from Newcastle. I have written a story advocating that Barton moves to Spurs. I certainly would welcome him to Tottenham but hopes of that happening seems to be fading each day. I understand all the baggage concerning Barton but I consider him a great player and I really think he could provide dynamics to their midfield. It appears the midfield is an area that Pulis wants to strengthen and Palacios and Barton could provide that for him. I think before the transfer window ends we will see a few more additions to the club if history is any indicator.

As I said stated before I don’t expect any super miracles of finishing first or in the top four or anything like that but I think this year Stoke might give us all an interesting surprise. Stoke had a fairly positive pre-season, a good home result against Chelsea and their Europa League competition is off to a successful start. They also could be one of the clubs to embrace the Europa League with a good squad to select players from and if they can make the long haul they just might see themselves in the final. There is always the League and FA Cup and we could see a repeat of last season’s FA final.

Stoke plays hard, aggressive and can be a difficult side to be beat. I might be overreaching here but I think we can look forward to some good football being played and maybe a piece of silverware along the way.

I would be very interested in hearing what anyone has to say — especially Stoke City supporters.

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  1. ronny

    August 22, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    just started following the EPL and Stoke chose me… don’t ask how. But I enjoyed reading the article and hope it turns out to be true. I’ve enjoyed following the first two games of the season thus far.

    • YNWA

      August 30, 2011 at 1:13 am

      congrats ronny, it will be a long and frustrating road with mostly heartache, but hold your head up high and know we’ll be with you!!! Hope Potters snatch Crouchy, would be a great pick up

  2. Matthew

    August 19, 2011 at 2:09 am

    I enjoy the hard hitting and aggressive style of football that Stoke plays. Historical that is part of the English style of football. I think over the years with the influx of foreign players they aren’t use to it and just whine and complain about it instead of adjusting to it. Football is a hard and physical game; if you want a gentle sport I suggest golf or bowling.

  3. Thomas

    August 19, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I think Pulis is great. He’s consistently made Stoke a better side year in and year out.

    They have the feel of a classic English side, and it’s what makes the Premier League so enticing to me. You’ve got free flowing sides like Arsenal, and very physical sides like Stoke.

    Not a lot of teams relish a trip to the Britannia.

    Seeing Shawcross and Huth try to pulverize Torres skull was rather fun too.

    Would love to see how their brand of football does in Europe, and I wish them a good run.

    And Woodgate and Upson signings were great. They now have 4 good center backs…Pulis knows he needs depth with the number of fixtures they will be playing.

    • Matthew

      August 19, 2011 at 1:55 am

      We were fools to let Woodgate go.

      • IanCransonsKnees

        August 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm

        Abdoulay Faye & Ibrahima Sonko out.

        Woodgate & Upson in.

        Two players to up the English quota in the squad. Sonko barely played so Woodgate if he’s injured is a straight swap. Upson should be fitter than Faye, who’s age is catching up with him.

        With regard to Woodgate I have it on decent authority that he’s on a pittance (compared to the usual Premier League wages) but picks up decent money when he plays. Counter this with Sonko who got £20,000 a week whether he played or not.

        Sound financial sense and upgrading the squad.

        Apparently Woodgate is starting games because Pulis wants to see if he’ll break down before the transfer window shuts. If he does he’s got another centre half lined up!

  4. Lyle

    August 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    I think Stoke will be solid. They look good against Chelsea. They defend well, and they’re not small.

  5. PaulfromMiami

    August 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Watching Stoke City makes my eyes Bleed. Crouch going there would only make them try to long it even more.

    • Yespage

      August 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Probably would use Crouch on their set pieces and long throws. Though, it needs to be noted that the Stoke of last season, especially in the second half of the season, was much more aggressive offensively, often scoring (first) and in the first half (something they rarely ever did). Their offensive play was much better. We’ll see how they play against Norwich tomorrow.

      When they play a side like Chelsea, they are clearly the team lacking in talent, so they go back to the old Stoke style of “Don’t let the other team score at all”. Of course last year, the nearly beat Chelsea. I believe the Chelsea keeper deserved that point more than anyone else on the Chelsea side.

  6. Quinn

    August 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Crouch would be a good signing for Stoke. One more target for Delap to hit in the box with one of those super long throws.

  7. cgerv

    August 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I loved the way they smashed arsenal at the brit.

  8. Tobias Funke

    August 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Can’t wait to see what teams in the Europa League make of the towel on the sideline.

  9. Brett

    August 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I notice that the photo credit says Kenwyne Jones. I assume that’s the same same Kenwyne Jones who’s normally on the pitch at the Brittania and not in the satnds…

    • Brett

      August 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      I mean not the same

  10. Phenoum

    August 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    hrm.. as i recall – fouls do not = broken bones.

    And Pulis defending him as “not that sort of player” is the biggest farce I’ve ever seen. He’s done it 2-3 other times in his career. Either he’s a bully on the pitch, or he’s just too lumbering and slow-minded to know when to pull out of a challenge. Either way they’re a crap team IMO

    • Dave C

      August 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Ugh, wah wah, it’s all about Arsenal.

    • IanCransonsKnees

      August 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm

      ‘He’s done it 2-3 other times’ prove it. I’ll prove you wrong I already know the rubbish you’ll spout.

      Crap enough to dick Arsenal at least once a season. Thats no real achievement nowadays though.

  11. Shootzer

    August 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I think this was a brilliant article. Such a positive sign that people other than us Stoke fans think highly of the club too. Very fair and realistic views, agree with the fact about there being no super miracles; but with some new signings a cup run could be on the cards?

    • Matthew

      August 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      As a Spurs supporter and being a netural looking at Stoke I see some good things this season. I really think you got great deal with Woodgate. Watching Stoke play in the Europa League and their first match against Chelsea I am impressed so far. I could see a 8th, 7th or 6th spot season.

  12. Phenoum

    August 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Why I hope Stoke goes down this year:


    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      I’m not an Arsenal or Stoke supporter, but Arsenal committed more fouls per match than Stoke City last season. See

      The Gaffer

      • nicc

        August 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

        Phenom didnt say anything about Stoke committing more fouls or anything like that. he only said that he didnt like Shawcross and he didnt state a reason why.

        what does your comment have to do with his?

        • The Gaffer

          August 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

          Many supporters lump Shawcross and Stoke City together.

          The Gaffer

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