Stoke City and the words easy on the eye might not necessarily go together so well after the recent stories in the press about James Beattie fighting none other than a naked Tony Pulis. But I am here to talk about why they are a team for the all the neutral supporters in football.
The Potters certainly are the cream of the crop of last year’s promoted sides having exceeded all expectation and finished 12th in the Premier League last season, ahead of sides such as: Bolton, Blackburn, Portsmouth and Sunderland, teams who have been in the Premier League for the last few years.
Now having watched Stoke a lot recently I certainly think that they are the team for all the neutrals in football and I even find myself willing them to win when I watch
Prior to their promotion in 2008, the Potters had not played in the top flight since the 1984-85 seasons, but now that they have arrived, I think that they are going to be in the Premier League for the long run.
They have proven to be no pushovers, especially going by their home form, at the fortress that is the Britannia Stadium having only lost there six times since being promoted: once to Everton and West Ham, and twice to Chelsea and Manchester United.
A capacity crowd of 28,000 regularly turn out to cheer on Tony Pulis and co; while Stoke’s home figures for last season were also consistently high with attendance figures in the league as a whole.
A lovely quote that sums up the ground, taken from Wikipedia is: “The Britannia is a raw and exciting footballing experience, unwelcoming temperatures and hostile home fans, with the action all played out in a noisy, bearpit atmosphere that is a real throwback. And yes, it is absolutely fantastic.”
Taking that into account it is no surprise that Stoke fans are considered to be the loudest fans in the Premier League with noise levels at an average of 101.8 decibels
A quality that is very prevalent in the Stoke squad is that it has a very strong English spine which runs right through the club, from the backroom staff to the players on the field.
There are 14 English natives in the first team and 18 in as part of the background team, and they could possibly be one of the only clubs left with true English spirit running through its veins.
So, what lies in store for Stoke City?
Well, they are currently 11th in the table on 21 points, which is an improvement on this time last year by one point. I can see Stoke becoming seasoned regulars in the Premier League, like Bolton and Portsmouth who could be on their way out this season after a period of eight and six years respectively.
One matter is for sure, Stoke will not be going back down to the Championship this season, a bold prediction to make, but I said in my season preview they would avoid second season syndrome and stay up, and I am sticking by that.
Also, they have got lady luck on their side because as a manager Tony Pulis maintains the proud record of never being relegated as a manager, despite having managed struggling clubs like Bournemouth, Bristol City, Gillingham and Plymouth Argyle in his time.
While the football the Potters play will never be swashbuckling and attractive, they have the ability to grind out the results when they are needed, that’s what makes them a team for the neutral to watch.
They were considered to be underdogs last season but they soon removed that tag, especially when they beat Arsenal and Aston Villa, drew with Liverpool and Tottenham.
By far Stoke are the team I always enjoy to watch, and if I am not watching I make sure check their results. They are certainly my second team that’s for sure.
And for all the neutrals out there, check out Stoke City, they could just be the team for you.