Taking the rough with the tumble

Such is the gulf between the Premier League and the Football League, that few teams are given a fair chance of surviving their first or even second seasons in the top flight of the English ladder. The money paid out to the top 20 teams in the country is so far removed from what is offered to the rest of the pyramid that it isn’t reasonable to expect anything less.

Taking the rough with the tumble

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March 11th, 2013

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In recent seasons however, clubs have worked hard to buck that trend. Swansea City and Norwich City have managed it in their own ways, no doubt spurred on and encouraged by the success of Stoke City.

The Northern club are the unfashionable little brother of the Premier League, the side belittled and at the brunt of most jokes about efficient play and hard tackling. However, the club, the manager, his staff and his playing squad stick to a very certain plan that yields results.

Unfortunately, they are currently going through their toughest spell in the Premier League. Stoke City have won just two of their last 14 matches in the Premier League. They have lost seven of the last nine; winning one and drawing the other.

Thankfully their strong start to this season should keep them safe for this season and well away from a relegation battle that currently, the team would be favourites to lose. With 33 points to their name and nine games to go; there should be enough distance – as well as a handful of other teams – between the Potters and the dreaded exit door from the Premier League.

That being said, Tony Pulis will know that something needs to change. On Sunday, Stoke were undone by a 90th-minute winner from Papiss Demba Cisse that meant they left Newcastle with nothing to show from their effort. No matter how much effort Stoke show, they are not likely to be gifted points at this stage of the season.

Pulis needs to find something from his players to finish the season or he will be in for a tough summer. There is little doubt that Pulis is a big part of Stoke’s success; his ideas, discipline and passion fuel his squad of players, but if they have little to show from a fine start to the season, the pressure will mount.

There is little room for logic and reason when it comes to the hiring and firing of Premier League managers. Roberto Di Matteo was in the Chelsea job for two months before he won the Champions League; a role that had frequently rotated over the previous seven seasons and continues to be. Nigel Adkins had Southampton in a comfortable position in the table before he was removed at St. Mary’s.

It is ludicrous to suggest Stoke City could start next season without Tony Pulis at the helm; but right now, his focus has to be on getting his team back to winning ways.

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