Now entering their fifth straight season in the top flight, who can argue with the fantastic progression of Stoke City and the tireless efforts of their manager Tony Pulis?
With an FA Cup final appearance and a European adventure to boot in recent years, it’s a great time to be a Stoke fan.
Although this success has been overshadowed by the lingering label of ‘anti-football’ as the physical style of Pulis’ team hasn’t won over the football purists. The substance over style philosophy has been successful, but it has turned Stoke into the ‘bully’ of the Premier League playground.
Beating the points out of physically weaker sides who they know they cannot compete with at a technical level.
As well as the unappealing nature of the football, the long throw-ins and route one tactics aren’t as effective as they once were with Stoke only managing to finish 14th last season.
So with the emergence of the graceful and successful styles of Swansea and Wigan who have shown that survival can be achieved with attractive football on a low budget, surely it is time for Stoke to start playing some real football.
It seems an unlikely step to take for the resilient Tony Pulis to change his football philosophy, but recent rumors of a £5 million bid for Charlie Adam (the Sun) and the ongoing tussle with Spurs to take Tom Huddlestone on loan (the Mail) suggest that he is looking for a ball playing midfield player.
Both Huddlestone and Adam are known for their excellent range of passing and the ability to control the tempo of a match and the arrival of either of these midfielders would signal a change in dynamic from Stoke’s combative central midfield to a style that is easier on the eye and perhaps more effective in the era of Tiki-taka football.
Although other reports linking former Rangers man Maurice Edu with the Britannia (the Mail) could see Pulis and Stoke revert to their usual physical midfield combination with Edu fitting nicely into the central areas with the energetic Geoff Cameron and Glen Whelan.
It seems then that Stoke City’s life in the Premier League is at a crossroads, signing Adam or Huddlestone could see Pulis introduce total football to the Potters fans, bringing more success. However only adding Edu to the midfield could see Stoke decline as quickly as the profits of ‘anti-football’.
With deadline day almost upon us, Arsene is running out of time to strengthen the squad.