05/06: Preview: Stoke City
by Matt Rowson
How did they do?
"The game carried on in the same pattern, albeit with a slightly different emphasis in midfield where Bangura showed more inclination to hoof the ball clear than Mahon. He was certainly involved though, and no criticism is implied. One of his challenges led to a free kick that Duberry (or was it one of the Moomins) headed goalwards to force Alec into his first real save. Stoke had started to play the ball a little bit more now and were causing us problems that often led to throw ins or free kicks. The game had lost its flow. Well, we had lost our flow. They didn't really have any. Stoke? Staccato..."
How will they do?
Bizarre shenanigans in the Potteries, where Tony Pulis' not inconsiderable (if as aesthetically pleasing as a breeze block) achievement in turning Stoke into a solid midtable side was rewarded with the sack. The side not cosmopolitan enough, apparently - not Icelandic enough for the club's owners, specifically. Not a stable basis to start the season with, and the losses of Gifton and Thomas to Burnley on top of the departure of Akinbiyi to the same destination at the end of last season will be a blow. The new man is an unknown commodity, but the foundations are shaky and Stoke could struggle. Bottom half.