Stoke City set an example to newly-promoted clubs

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'Stokelona' - a label used simply to joke? Or perhaps a symbol of Stoke's steady rise to a solid Premier League side. So much have they evolved as a team, top players from all over Europe spot their unlimited amount of potential from a mile away.

It's really no coincidence that top international footballers like Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic and Ibrahim Affelay have gazed at the Potters with a smile - they are a side now capable of the next level.

Mark Hughes' solid red and whites didn't get there immediately however, they've been lurking in the dark shadows since 2008, like a lion stalking it's prey they've been patient in their rise and built an identity which helped them surprise and shock fans all over the Premier League.


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I am, of course, referring to the 'Rory Delap tactic'. The height of Kenwyne Jones, Ryan Shawcross, Andy Wilkinson and many others would cause mayhem from one of Delap's famously launched throw-ins. The opposition of the Premier League were shocked and the Britannia would soon become a fortress. 

From that moment on, the Potters really didn't look like they were going anywhere. Their style was in no way unique however, I mean you wouldn't call launching the ball to your tallest striker for knockdowns unique, would you?


What made Stoke so effective was the height and strength of their squad and how Premier League sides simply weren't used to that physicality. Well drilled and with a clear tactic in mind, the Potters ran out every game to cause mayhem in the enemy's penalty area.

Since Tony Pulis layed out the starting blocks however, the Potters have built on that strong spine and are now adding genuine attacking quality as well as physical presence. You only have to look back at their old strike force for evidence. 

Back in 2008, Stoke's forward line was a very physically intense but technically lacking affair - with Sidibe, Jones and Fuller being handed the task of bullying centre-backs around. Along with the speedy byline wingers of Matthew Etherington and Jermaine Pennant providing the deep crosses into the box.

The Pulis days are over now though and Mark Hughes since promised the Stoke faithful bright and attacking football - and you cant argue with his statements of intent. Compared to the early Pulis era for the Potters, there forward line is of an entirely different mechanism; Shaqiri, Bojan, Affelay and Arnautovic are but a few of the former European superstars brought from the continent.

This inspirational but patient journey down at the Britannia needs to be watched and learned by clubs intending to make it in the big time, rather than doing a 'Queens Park Rangers' and desperately buying hosts of overrated players in one go, you need a long term plan. Not just that, but also an identity - a way that works and plays to the strengths of your squad. 

It may be sumptuous passing football or long ball wrestling, whichever works for your teams identity. Without building an identity like Stoke or even Swansea - it's just becomes a lottery. 

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Stoke City
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