As they enter their 7th consecutive season as a Premier League club, it is evident that Stoke City have come on leaps and bounds over the years. The wonderful work carried out by former manager Tony Pulis has been taken on by Mark Hughes who has stamped his own authority on the club as he continues to change the perception that Stoke are just a physical, long ball team that are not easy on the eye to watch. A number of impressive signings during this summer’s transfer window is a positive sign that Stoke are developing into a strong side that can be competitive in the top half of the table during the upcoming 2014/2015 season. 1000/1 reflects that they remain light years away from being able to compete for the title, but there is every chance that Stoke can enjoy a bright campaign through a newly adopted fast-flowing, passing style of play.
Stoke established themselves in the Premier League through a squad packed with strength, power and height that caused all sorts of problems for teams who were not used to a full-on approach. The arrival of Mark Hughes in the manager hot-seat came with the ambition of transforming the team’s style of play to become more expansive and establish an effective strategy that transforms their physical approach into an alternative plan.
An excellent 9th place finish last season could provide the springboard for bigger and better things for Stoke who have already conducted excellent business in the transfer market. Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell are solid Premier League players who fit in nicely to Stoke’s new playing stoke, while young Slovakian Dionatan Teixeira represents a good prospect for the future. The arrivals of former Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf and Bojan are amongst the stand-out transfers in the Premier League this summer, with Hughes adding considerable firepower upfront through strikers who are more than capable of scoring goals on a regular basis. Paying £3 million to sign Bojan could turn out to be an absolute steal, with the young Spaniard having all the ingredients to be a clinical Premier League striker.
Is Europe a possibility?
The 2013/2014 Premier League season was a perfect demonstration that football is such an unpredictable sport in which anything can happen. Premier League odds were often defied as the underdogs and unfancied teams caused a number of upsets that not only pleased the bookmakers, but also shook up the entire table. A considerable wave of new arrivals may provide another unpredictable season, as every Premier League club has been active during the transfer window to add more quality and be more competitive.
Stoke are currently in a comfortable position as a team that may not be able to trouble the title challengers, but have more than enough to steer clear of any relegation trouble. The Potters are currently a 10/1 longshot to drop into the Championship, but a top 10 finish is 11/8 is much more likely for an ever-improving club. Impressive signings may improve their chances of competing for a Europa League spot that could take Stoke to the next level as a football club.