Season of struggle awaits Potters
James Marshment told this week's TEAMtalk Podcast that Stoke are in for a season of struggle this season - here he outlines his thinking. The talk of teams suffering 'second-season syndrome' is well documented in the Premier League. But we are yet to really experience one that has had to endure 'third season fall-out' (that's a working title, by the way!) That's the scenario I believe Stoke City are facing this term - unless manager Tony Pulis can shake them quite quickly out of their slumbers. First of all, let me make it clear that I don't think Stoke will end the season in the bottom three. There are (at the absolute least) three sides far worse than the Potteries outfit in the top flight. However, I do detect a small element of complacency setting in at The Brit. When they first won promotion, all connected with the club were keen to make an impact in the Premier League. Everyone was hungry for success (and by that, I mean survival) and everyone from the crowd through to the players appeared to have the bit between their teeth. It was almost a siege mentality, if you will. Fast forward two years (and after impressive league finishes of 12th and 11th), the club might think they have 'made it' and are 'an established' Premier League side. The aura around the club, to me at least, suggests they have a divine right to claim a third successive mid-table finish, and who knows, perhaps even push on into the top half. But the Premier League takes no prisoners, and attitudes like that can see you punished to the extreme. Nonchalance is no friend of England's top flight. However, to balance the argument, in Pulis (who, by the way, has never suffered relegation in his 18-year managerial career), they have a man in charge who won't allow sloppiness to set in. Pulis - a no-nonsense manager who won't take any crap - has already recognised the need to shake things up at The Brit. He'll instantly know which players in the squad are up for the fight and which ones think they're already established as the top men. And it's that shrewdness and awareness that will ensure Stoke won't go down this season. However, if they are to match their efforts from the previous two seasons then Stoke need to get their act together sooner rather than later. You could argue they were unlucky not to get a point from their weekend clash with Spurs as not only did they have a perfectly good equaliser chalked off (another goalline technology debate) but they also spent long periods camped out in the Tottenham half. But with a trip to Chelsea next up in the league, it promises to get worse before it starts getting better for Stoke. To hear Marshy's rumblings in full, and TEAMtalk's other thoughts about the weekend's action in the Premier League, download the Podcast, for free from our Media section. And you can also download it on iTunes if you wish, along with all the previous Podcasts.
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