This is a post I have wanted to write for a while now, but have felt oddly unqualified to do so. I'm no statistician or football historian able to recite results and players from eons ago, I'm not even what some may call a "hardcore" supporter. I am however a follower of Stoke City Football Club and therefore feel thats qualification enough for this forthcoming analysis.
For the past two to three seasons there has become a growing discord amongst a rising group of supporters regarding Stokes' style of play, league aspirations and the management style of Tony Pulis.
On the one hand you have those who agree Tony is the man best placed to steer the good ship Britannia to premier league safety season after season regardless of pitch performances and fan satisfaction, and on the other those who wish he would mix it up a little and go for the throat a little more rather than trying to kill games off and take a point where possible.
Now, whilst true that football is a form of entertainment, most do not choose to follow their team based on high league finishes and silky smooth football (some indeed do but that a whole different debate). Its also true that watching the average Stoke game can be somewhat underwhelming and more than a little predictable, especially away from home.
I believe Tony is a realist. Pretty football can get you bankrupt. You need a lot of financial clout to play nice tippy-tappy football as you need genuine players of top quality to keep bringing in the three points when you take so many risks on the pitch.
The club is in a strong position financially, and although a chore to watch at times, I believe Premiership football is virtually assured. He has done wonders keeping a solid spine in place, lesser managers would of cashed in on Begovic, Shawcross et al.
So to the fans who want high octane drama week in week out, I don't feel Tony is gonna take those kinds of chances that could lead us into a relegation scrap. Football today is also a business. The most successful business grow slowly and don't take rash chances on fads or fly by night ideas.
Stoke fans would do well to enjoy one of the only steady success' this city of ours has at present.