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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Pulis still the man for fans

FanZone's Stoke blogger Tim Ward insists Tony Pulis deserves to retain the support of the Potters' fans as the club continues to progress.

Last Updated: 19/02/13 at 11:44 Post Comment

Tony Pulis: Retains the support of most Stoke fans

Tony Pulis: Retains the support of most Stoke fans

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Stoke City have had a somewhat topsy-turvy season so far. A rather poor start of just one win in 10 games was followed by their best-ever run since promotion back to the top flight of only one loss in 10.

In that time, the Potters' famously-robust defence led them to having conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League and boasting one of the best defensive lines in Europe as far as allowing the opposition in.

But then something changed; after only being breached seven times in those 10 matches (three of which were by one team, Southampton, in Ryan Shawcross' absence), Tony Pulis' team seemed to crumble, conceding 14 in their next six league outings - one low point being seeing the team throw away a 2-0 lead against almost-always-bottom-three Wigan Athletic at home.

Then came murmurings, mainly from the press, that Stoke may have been taken as far as they can by Pulis. Surely the fans must be fed up of the brand of football? Of the consistent struggles away from home? And the insistence by the manager that Stoke are essentially still a small team who are looking to stay up first and foremost? Stoke's play is still direct at best, the away form never seems to improve and after five years in the top flight, relegation can't be still be a major concern?

Well, for the most part, Stoke fans are fairly content with Tony Pulis at the moment. After all, the Welshman first joined Stoke a little over 10 years ago with the club struggling to avoid relegation back to League One. Now they are 10th in the Premier League and were this time last year playing Valencia in the Europa League while at the start of a near calendar year without a single home defeat in the league.

A realistic aim for the Potters this season would be to secure a top-half finish, which would signal another milestone and yet another successive season in the top flight - which will annoy most of Stoke's critics, something that suits us down to the ground.

We aren't the greatest football team in the world - far, far from it - and yes, when I see Swansea play some of their simply stunning football a twinge of jealous does flash across my eyes.

But our play and players now when compared with five years ago is vastly different with some decent build-up play as opposed to solely hoping for knock-downs off hoofs up field, free kicks and of course the never-forgotten-but-now-rarely-used long throw.

Pulis, along with chairman Peter Coates, drew up a plan of steady, controlled progress after getting promotion and it seems as though we may be some way from the end of this grand plan.

By Tim Ward, FanZone's Stoke City blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @timwardwrites - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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