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Stoke need 5 star players to hit the big time

Thursday 30th June 2011
Stoke City have gradually improved every season in the top division. Yeah, last season they didn't improve their points tally or league position, but they never looked in trouble of losing their league status, and they  improved the personnel they had at their disposal, which in turn improved the football they played.

Stoke also had an impressive cup run which saw them finish runners-up at Wembley to Manchester City. This achievement saw the Potters qualify for this year's Europa League, the first time in 37 years.

In my eyes, the second oldest league club in the world are five players away from becoming a comfortable top half side in the English Premier league. Two central midfielders, a striker, a left back and a back up winger.



Currently City have 3 very good Goalkeepers in Asmir Begovic, Thomas Sorensen and Carlo Nash. This department doesn't need any attention unless Sorensen moves onto pastures new, with rumours that West Ham have been sniffing around.

Stoke could look to Huddersfield's young stopper  Alex Smithies for a replacement to act as cover at the Britannia Stadium.



Historically, A Tony Pulis side has a good defence as the Welshman loves to build his team from back to front. At the moment the team is just that with the two strong towering centre halves; Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth. The team is missing a specialised left back, with Marc Wilson filling in this position currently, don't get me wrong, Wilson has done a very good job, but I would prefer to see him in a more familiar right back slot.

A possible left back could be Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock , who may not be in Alex McCleish's plans at Villa Park.

Rumours in the national press seem to think the club are looking at the other half of Birmingham and have stated that the club have tabled a £12 million bid for centre half Scott Dann , which was rejected. Dann seems to be a replacement for the departed Abdoulaye Faye and Ibrahima Sonko, but the transfer seems on the expensive side in my opinion, and the club shouldn't table another bid although the duo will need replacing.

A possible replacement for the Senegalese defender could be John Pantsil who cost a considerably a lot less on a free transfer from Fulham, this would allow the likes of Danny Higginbotham to cover at centre half. Another option may be Reading's captain  Matt Mills who Stoke have already tabled a bid for.



Since Pulis has been at the club, the side really hasn't had a midfield as such. Pulis style of play normally bypasses the midfield players as he instructs his players to play a direct game. Recently though Pulis has started to tweak his system and deploys two wingers in Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington, who inject pace and creativity to the side. These two players don't need to be replaced but when either are tired during a game or injured, Pulis seems to resort to playing a central midfielder on the flank e.g. Rory Delap or using a player such as Danny Pugh. These players put in a 110%, like every other Tony Pulis player, but they just don't have the quality that the wingers possess.

A youngster from the lower leagues such as Robert Snograss of Leeds, or one of the Huddersfield wingers; Anthony Pilkington or Gary Roberts would be an ideal squad player who could easily change a game if required.

The main problem of the team is the central midfield. The centre of the park lacks creativity at the moment, and if the team wants to push on to the next level, the centre of the park will need to be the engine of the team. At the moment the likes of Glenn Whelan, Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead have done a decent job, especially when breaking up the play and helping out the defence but when it comes to passing a ball or playing that final killer ball, they seem to either panic in possession and give the ball away or execute the pass horribly wrong. The club need to look for new players in this area. They should be looking at the likes of West Ham's young Welsh star Jack Collison, Newcastle United's Joey Barton, Birmingham's Craig Gardner or Blackpool's Charlie Adam.

All these players could bring in a good range of passing and energy which is required in the team.

Pulis could also take a risk on either a loan for Chelsea's Joshua McEachran or signing recently released Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves on a pay as you play deal. That signing could be a real coup for the club and he would bring in a calm head, European experience and a good passing ability, altogether with some quality from set pieces.



At the moment, Stoke only seem to have two strikers in my eyes, Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters. I believe that Ricardo Fuller and Mama Sidibe's Stoke career may be over or at least the beginning of the end for the pair and along with John Carew and Eidur Gudjohnson being released, Stoke look short up front.

The Potters should be looking to add a bit of pace to their front line and with the recent rumours that Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge could be making a move to Stoke-on-Trent, this would fit the bill perfectly. A problem may be the price though as £20 million has been stated for the young English man. Another cheaper option may be Manchester City's Craig Bellamy , who manager Tony Pulis has been a keen admirer of for some time.

Another option to add depth to the squad would be to bring an another striker, one maybe in the mould of Kenwyne Jones. Apparently Stoke have already had a bid of £3 million for West Ham's Carlton Cole rejected. If Stoke can acquire the England international on the cheap, then he could be a shrewd move for the Potters.


Possible Stoke first XI:

Gk: Asmir Begovic

RB: Marc Wilson

LB: Stephen Warnock

CB: Robert Huth

CB: Ryan Shawcross

RM: Jermaine Pennant

LM: Matthew Etherington

CM: Owen Hargreaves

CM: Jack Collison

ST: Daniel Sturridge

ST: Kenwyne Jones

Bench: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Snodgrass, Walters, Delap, Cole


Some might say it's dangerous ripping the "heart" out of the team and could be more of a hindrance than help but Pulis seems to introduce players into his first eleven carefully and thoughtfully. This was shown with Marc Wilson this season as he was drip feed into the team and as he settled, the best came out of the young Irish international.

One thing for sure, the Newport born manager seems to have a knack for letting players move on at the right time. This has been shown on numerous occasions with the likes of Liam Lawrence, Steve Simonsen, Richard Cresswell, Dave Kitson and James Beattie. This may be shown again this summer if he lets the likes of Tom Soares, Michael Tonge, Mama Sidibe and Andrew Davies move on.

Tony Pulis seems to have a decent squad in his possession but it seems to lack real quality minus the first eleven. This will need to be looked at, and if he can bring in quality players, then some of the current first eleven could then become the quality in depth that Stoke will require for the long season ahead.

Follow me on twitter lloyd_17
Lloyd Reddin
I'm a Stoke City season holder and try to get to as many away games as I can. I'm currently studying Sports Journalism at Staffs Uni and would love to the move into the industry.

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