Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPulis and Stoke on autopilot? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Pulis and Stoke on autopilot? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Pulis and Stoke on autopilot?

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has this season been faced with a problem that has befallen such previously secure Premier League clubs as Birmingham, Charlton and Bolton – stagnation. Will next season bring fresh progress, or a further slide into trouble?

After four unspectacular but worry-free seasons in mid-table security, and significant money spent, sections of the media, and Stoke’s own fanbase, were expecting a top-half finish, if not necessarily a challenge for Europe.

The £20m spent on players in the summer, compared with the £500,000 recouped through the sale of Danny Collins, would ideally have nudged the Potters up the table slightly. Charlie Adam from Liverpool was one of the flagship buys, with Steven Nzonzi and Michael Kightly also joining the good ship Stoke.

Instead, an inconsistent first half of the season, followed by relegation form in the second, has led Pulis to come under intense pressure, with the drop starting to seem inevitable until the vital 2-0 win away at QPR.

Next season is proving to perhaps be a make or break one, sadly for Pulis. Not to tell him how to do his job, but a shift in tactical approach, and transfer approach, may be required to halt a worrying trend.

Stoke’s reliance on set-pieces, hard-fought battles, and Rory Delap’s long throws appears to have been found out, and worse, the passion and intensity, QPR apart, has been absent of late. Creative signings, of a similar nature to Jermaine Pennant, and Tuncay, are necessary, as new strings must be added to the bow and A Plan B to compliment the plan A.

The fear for chairman Peter Coates must be that if Pulis’ side start the 2013/14 badly (and they are not yet safe this time around), he may become under pressure to make a change. And as we have seen with Alan Curbishley, Sam Allardyce and other such managerial shifts, new is not always better.