Since Tony Pulis left the Potters last May, Stoke City have been developing a rejuvenated style – remarkably involving some short passing.
Now with the additions of Stephen Ireland and the loan signing of John Guidetti, Stoke are changing the look of their squad with an increasing number of technical players who offer a variety of different avenues from the trademark Stoke long ball game.
Mark Hughes’ management this season has built on his summer signings with full backs now not just operating at extra defenders but becoming further involved in attacks as Geoff Cameron and Erik Pieters drive on past the wide men.
There was – believe it or not – a brief period of style adaptation at Stoke last season, that saw a slide in results where Pulis reverted to his rugby-esque football to battle their way out of trouble, that once again proved effective in the war to avoid the drop.
However, Stoke are looking to the next level of development as a club that is more than fighting off relegation threat, but trying to build into a solid top-half team who can gain more respect for their style than the ridicule often faced under Pulis, draw specialists with no goals but a hard game for anyone.
A change has been signalled, Steven N’Zonzi now dictates the tempo from deep in midfield, with Charlie Adam supporting the clever hold up play and distribution of Peter Crouch, but carefully supplemented by Pulis-like residue of Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters.
With the Potters scoring their first header of the season only last weekend, the decline in direct play is notable, set pieces are no longer the single method of scoring at the Brittania Stadium, even with the addition of an ex-Barcelona player (Marc Muniesa), who’d have thought it of Stoke?
Stoke City are changing for the better, showing signs of progress under Mark Hughes having taken the gamble away from Pulis’ trustworthy stability, rejecting his brutality for a transition towards smoother attacking play and greater skill being on show at the Brittania can only be good news for the Premier League.
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