Intrest in Joey Barton signals their intention in going on to the next step.
Although fans of so called bigger clubs would disagree, Stoke fans can now expect their club to mix it with the best of the rest; clubs such as Everton,Villa and Sunderland for a more than realistic seventh place finish. Although i’m sure Pulis will be happy just to stay out of the bottom three.
The job Pulis has done is nothing short of a miracle and although not even the staunchest Potter fan is expecting a title bid, seventh place is not such a distant dream. To think less than five years ago Stoke was playing teams like Scunthorpe Utd, Colchester Utd and Preston North End is remarkable.
Stoke are now about to embark on a season, were if they are brave enough,they can prove they possess the steel and quality to battle it out over a season and finish seventh. Why couldn’t they?
Yes there are big spenders and teams of higher esteem and richer history that are favourites to beat stoke into seventh. But stoke have a fair bit of financial clout of their own with backing from the sensible and shrewd Peter Coates coud see them bring in the much needed depth.
Stoke’s starting starting 11 is arguably the sixth or seventh best in the league. A solid spine consisting of the reliable Begovic in goal, captain Ryan Shawcross and Huth at the back gives them steel , Etherington and Pennant gives them creaivtity going forward. A prolific striker is Pulis’s main priority, a deal with Carlton Cole fell through due to personal terms. Spurs striker Crouch has lately been linked with coming to the noisy Britannia
Stoke share a similar problem to their main competitors Everton; they have no depth what so ever. Both teams know that if they suffer major injuries to just one or two players then this can can can be a season changer. Just like Everton too, Stoke have shown real interest in Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton.
The talented but controversial midfielder has fallen out with the Newcastle board and could prove prove useful to either club. Barton thrived playing direct football with big target man Andy Carroll at Newcastle. Playing with Jones and Sidibe would be similar, more so if they land Crouch. Should Barton join the Potters then Stoke could find themselves in the European spots come May 2012.
Although they have been linked with many players stoke are yet to make any waves this window with the exception of Woodgate from Spurs on a free. I expect that to change with Pulis bringing three or four players in the final weeks with Barton being one of those.
Pulis needs to add if Stoke are too challenge on all fronts next season, the added distraction of the Europa Cup this season will add to the strain on Stokes thin squad. Pulis and Coates have proven themselves to be no fools, they will see to this.