‘Stoke’d and stirred!
They have often been described as a team which relies on its physical prowess rather than on their footballing skills. Some purists have dismissed them as a disgrace to the game. Indeed, stereotyping and Stoke City FC go hand in hand! The famed throw ins by midfielder Rory Delap, the tackle on Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey by Ryan Shawcross (one among many such though less horrendous), the trademark set piece goals have all contributed to the accusation of Stoke being tagged as a boring team. Some would even go to the extent of calling them an ugly team playing the most beautiful game in the word. But then you can’t deny the team in question does get away with results every now and then. Staying firm and not swayed by continued reproaches, Stoke have done themselves proud this season.
This season has seen Stoke flying high with impressive displays. Unbeaten for the past nine games, they are also one of the only two teams along with Everton yet to lose a home game in this campaign.It is no coincidence that other teams find it difficult to overcome Stoke in their own backyard, The Britannia stadium. Ask Brendan Rodgers who recently saw his Liverpool side being beaten all ends up by the inspiring home team and you will know why exactly visiting teams find it a challenge to beat them.
Their supporters who too are often derided for being loud and abrasive just like the team they support have no doubt played a key part in the results of the potters. Their Manager Tony Pulis who has put in a remarkable job since taking over for the second time in 2006 has certainly not shied away from his teams displays. Pulis much like West Ham’s Sam Allardyce known for long ball techniques has taken the team forward on a shoe string budget. He has his team playing to its strength rather than discarding them.
With players like Peter Crouch who is among the most towering personalities in the game, the gifted Shawcross (pun not intended) and Goalie Begovic whose reputation is fast rising, Stoke are certainly not without the armory needed for further pursuits of glory.
What next for the team?
Tony Pulis after his side’s triumph over Liverpool said this is his best team in years and his statement is not without logic. Currently sitting pretty on 8th in the standings, this team has certainly got strong heads to take the side up. The Potters most probably won’t splurge money in the January window and rightfully so because they do have a solid team which puts in bodies on the line to get the results that they so desire. It has been five years now since they won promotion back from the championship and if current displays are to go by, it is highly unlikely for them to drop back to the second tier. Indeed as they have repeatedly shown stubbornness coupled with sheer hard work has paid dividends in the form of stability.