When a team excels its expectations and the fans taste success, the expectations for the future inevitably rise as well. This can often work against a club. Fans often have short memories and expect their team to continue to rise at a rate that just isn’t possible. These expectations are the reason why Tony Pulis has recently been defending his job at Stoke. Since their promotion is 2008, Stoke have reached an FA Cup Final and progressed through the group stages of the Europa League. They have also consistently kept away from relegation scraps finishing between 11th and 14th since being in the Premiership. So what has given Stoke fans this reason to complain? A poor run of games and a simply uninspiring season has left the fans feeling a bit bored and feeling unrewarded. Stoke have failed to score an average of even 1 goal a game this season and haven’t been beating the big teams like they have in previous seasons.
The philosophy at Stoke installed by Tony Pulis is what has carried Stoke into their successful era in the top flight. His tall players of who Sir Alex Ferguson called the “jolly green giants” have been the blueprint for a strong and defensive team. Goals have often come from set pieces but their shortage of goals comes from a lack of an attacking edge this season. Teams are beginning to understand and know what to expect when they play Stoke and Pulis has looked for a slightly different way to score goals this season. I think that is why he wanted Michael Owen, to get a different dimension to his attack but the gamble hasn’t really worked. Pulis has defended his decision and I think with good reason, he surely will try and improve his teams attacking prowess in the summer. He has tried to bring in controlling centre midfielders who can aid in defence and attack but the goals haven’t come. This may cause fan unrest but how a manager can be questioned when he has promoted the club and retained Premiership status convincingly is unbelievable. Being mid table is not glamorous and sometimes not very exciting but it brings a stability to a club that many other teams envy. I’m sure big teams that have seen themselves play under par in recent years would like to see themselves in Stoke’s position, signing internationals and staying strong in the Premier league.
Realistically, a team like Stoke should be very happy with their current situation and the stability is a great attribute of a club, not a failing. Though their season may seem a little lacklustre and may get very few headlines, having a strong position in the Premier League is what many Championship teams are aiming for. This is the goal for many clubs and now Stoke have it, there fans want more. Of course fans have the right to dream and want to see their club excel but they still need to hold realistic expectations. And this unrest should never be aimed towards the manager who gave them such ascendancy through the football league.