And we haven’t even been to Blackpool yet!
Well if there’s one word to describe the season so far I think most people would probably plump for “unpredictable.” Our own performances have pretty much mirrored the unusual twists and turns that we have seen in the first 14 games in the Premier League. Already we have seen Stoke go on two poor runs and two excellent runs, the question now is where realistically this team can finish?
After two seasons of finishing in very respectable mid-table positions some Stokies are now wondering if we can break into the top ten or maybe even higher. If we look at past seasons it’s fair to say that barring a disaster from an established club the top 8 places are pretty much signed and sealed. Last year Birmingham had an outstanding season to finish in a hugely impressive 9th but I think that is all the rest of us can honestly hope for.
The current Stoke City squad should be aiming for that 9th spot as it is vital to have targets during a campaign. I’ll still be happy as long as we maintain our Premier status but it does feel that the club want to continue our rapid progress and try and kick on even further. To this end I fully expect TP to be given additional funds to strengthen the team in a couple of areas. Peter Coates’s backing of our manager has been absolutely fantastic and I don’t see that changing in January.
It will be interesting to see how far this team can go; as long as we keep doing what we’re doing there’s no reason why we shouldn’t improve on last year’s excellent 11th position though.
This weekend we witnessed our friends from Smethwick give us our usual three points that we have now almost come to expect. In fairness Saturday’s game was a very tight affair with the Baggies offering a sterner test than in past visits. Although they didn’t exactly roll over and let us tickle their bellies, you never actually felt like it was possible for us to lose the game (although we didn’t look like winning either until Ethers tucked his penalty away.) Once we had our noses in front the feeling of inevitability that swept round the away end was tangible.
Everyone in red and white knew we were going to win and perhaps more importantly so did the Albion players and fans. We certainly weren’t at our best at the Hawthorns by any means but that in itself is a huge positive. Despite playing well below par we could still comfortably see out a game and walk away with all the points.
Up next for the Potters are the new money Mancs from the athletics stadium. You hear many fans making snide remarks about Man City and their new found wealth but I don’t have a problem with it. If your club is fortunate to be bought by blokes with far more money than footballing knowledge then you have to milk it for all you can. Whatever you think about the blue half of Manchester, you have to admit that the fans really stuck with the club as they dropped through the leagues so the jealousy that opposition fans have is fairly misplaced.
Hopefully their elevated status won’t taint their view of clubs with less financial backing as we have seen with other leading lights in the Premier League. The snobbery that exists in the top flight is probably one of the most disappointing aspects of life in the elite league and with any luck fans at Eastlands will keep their feet and the ground and show respect for their peers.
Next week’s game is certainly one to savour after our three wins on the bounce. We can go into the fixture in a relaxed frame of mind and really have a go at the Man City team. They obviously have some really top notch players but they have certainly paid a lot of money in fees and wages for some fairly standard ones as well. We definitely won’t fear them and after last season’s F.A Cup tie we know that on our day we can get a positive result against them.
Another win for the Potters next week really would end a superb month on a massive high and probably ensure that TP wins the manager of the month. Here’s to another great afternoon at the Brit, we may not have the money they have but we can certainly make up for that with hard work from the lads and a cauldron of noise from the Stoke faithful!