Team Profile: Stoke City
Sky Sports predicted finish:12th
Stoke's 14th-placed finish last season was their worst since they were promoted to the Premier League, although their Europa League campaign was a mitigating factor. Tony Pulis will be expected to deliver a top-half finish this season, but it was made clear to him by chairman Peter Coates that players must leave before new ones arrive. Jonathan Woodgate, Salif Diao, Ricardo Fuller, Andrew Davies, Tom Soares, Danny Collins have already departed, and the likes of Danny Higginbotham and Michael Tonge could yet add to the departures. Coming in have been Jamie Ness on a free transfer from Rangers, Michael Kightly for an initial £1.5million from Wolves, and Geoff Cameron for £1.6million from MLS side Houston Dynamo. Goran Popov has also agreed a season-long loan move from Dynamo Kiev, but that deal is yet to be completed.
Tony Pulis has achieved far more than anyone could have predicted at the Britannia Stadium, leading the club to promotion from the Championship, four successive mid-table finishes in the Premier League, and also an FA Cup final and run to the last 32 of the Europa League. However, last season's domestic campaign was disappointing given Pulis' hefty pre-season spend, and the Welshman is now under pressure from supporters to improve both results and performances. The general consensus is that, in their fifth season in the top flight, the Potters should show some more ambition in games.
Key Ins and Outs
- Jamie Ness - free
- Geoff Cameron - £1.6m
- Michael Kightly - £2m
- Danny Collins - £500,000
- Jonathan Woodgate - free
- Ricardo Fuller - released
Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth are a formidable partnership at the back, and an injury to either player would be disastrous for Tony Pulis
Wilson Palacios struggled for fitness last season, but, with a full pre-season behind him, hopes are high he will provide the passing ability the Potters have generally missed in midfield
Jermaine Pennant found himself in and out of the team last season due to apparent disciplinary issues, but he has pledged his future to the club and promised big things.
Last Match vs Southampton
Sunday 19th May 2013
Strengths & weaknesses
Stoke have become famously difficult to beat, especially at the Britannia Stadium, but it is rare that a single goal is not enough to take a least a point from the Potters. If the North Staffordshire side are to progress, they simply have to improve on last season's paltry tally of 36 league goals.
Ness looks likely to act mainly as cover for central midfield and left wing, but Cameron looks likely to be a regular in the middle of the park. Kightly provides an extra option on either flank - one of the biggest criticisms of Pulis last season was that he did not always play with two out-and-out wingers. Popov, once signed, will slot in at left-back, but Pulis appears determined to add to his forward line, too. Talks have been held with Michael Owen, while an ambitious bid for Jermain Defoe has been mooted - whoever Stoke sign will be expected to take the goalscoring burden off Peter Crouch, who the team relied on heavily last season.
What they say
Tony Pulis - "I've long been an admirer of Michael, not only in terms of him being a provider, but also the fact he gets his share of goals."
Jermaine Pennant - "It's been very up and down. It's not how I wanted it to go, but that is life. You've got to deal with what comes your way. It's a new season now, a fresh start."
- Jermaine Pennant - @j_pennant
- Robert Huth - @robert_huth
- Geoff Cameron - @GeoffCameron
- Asmir Begovic - @asmir1
- Ryan Shotton - @ryanshotton88
May 21st, 2013 4:35pm
Pulis Leaves Stoke
Rob Dorsett reports after Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has...
Facts and figures
36Stoke scored the fewest number of goals (36) in the Premier League last season
290The Potters also had the fewest shots (290) and shots on target (94)
32.41Stoke had the lowest shooting accuracy in last season's top-flight (32.41%)
69.50Stoke made by far the fewest passes of any team in the league, and had the worst passing accuracy: 69.50%
522Stoke attempted 522 long throw-ins, 243 more than any other side
Tony Pulis' team were a disappointment last year. They spent big money on players like Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch and were trying to move up a level, but had a really disappointing finish in 14th. Everyone is looking to Stoke to move on this year and the fans - who are brilliant - may want more. For the first time there may be pressure on the team to perform better than they did in the previous season.