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Will Stoke always be a Premier League mid-table team?

Friday 21st April 2017
Stoke City is the classic Premier League mid-table team. Already assured its tenth consecutive top flight campaign, the Potters will spend the run in hoping to move into the table's top half, positioning itself for a future run at European competition.

Mark Hughes has built on the stability Tony Pulis established, while attempting to shed the club's image as unskilled labourers. He has his players in sync, performing impressively at the Bet365 Stadium. Stoke City is well known for its home form, the former Britannia famous as a fortress even European giants such as Roma and Ajax couldn't plunder. That identity has been key to Stoke's Premier League survival, season after season, but not further evolution. The club has cemented itself as a mid-table team for years. Will there be anymore progress?

Signs would suggest Stoke is on the rise. Realising the Premier League is more and more about financial power, the board has conquered financial obstacles placed by transfer and agents' fees to supply the demand for positive football expressed by its fans.

One key signing has been Saido Berahino. The Burundi-born front man fell out with West Brom chiefs, who blocked his transfer to Spurs in 2015. Clearly upset, Berahino vowed through social media to never play for the Baggies again. Stoke snapped him up. A pacy, instinctive striker, he has fit right into Mark Hughes' preferred playing style. Despite his current ten-game scoring drought, the twenty-three-year-old is sure to make a long term impact at the club.
It's not just Berahino who proves Stoke's efficient scouting system a success, however. Salomon Rondon, Marko Arnautovic, and Xherdan Shaqiri are other impressive coups identified by the Potters network. Hughes' attack-minded players have performed wonders, repeatedly providing an instant spark on the pitch to lift the Staffordshire side.

What next for Stoke? With its Premier League status confirmed for another year, the side won't be in trouble anytime soon. Its solid platform should only get stronger, particularly with a manager very secure in his job and holding full confidence in his players. European football would transform Stoke, attracting even more foreign talent. Were the Potters to qualify for the Europa League by winning the FA or League Cup, it would be a historic feat. With the Premier League's big four now a big six, or seven with Everton's emerging form, cup play is an alternative European route Hughes should target.

With so many teams making more exciting signings, pushing for European football, seven places seems hardly enough for the Premier League. Stoke is a club that can push on in this competitive atmosphere, raising its profile as a well known Premier League side beyond British borders. Flying under the radar is no longer enough. It would be brilliant to see a so-called mid-table team regularly representing England in European football.
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

Total articles: 76

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