Tag Archives: Stoke City

Great Goals: Matthew Lowton – Stoke City vs. ASTON VILLA (April 2013)

Aston Villa looked to be in serious relegation danger going into the penultimate month of the 2012-2013 season. They needed to start winning fast. What their fans probably didn’t expect was a goal of a lifetime strike from a rookie right-back in his debut top-flight campaign.

Matthew Lowton had quietly gone about his business throughout the season but he came into the conscience of Villa supporters with this stunning goal away at The Britannia Stadium against Stoke City. From a Villa corner, two Stoke players, Geoff Cameron and Charlie Adam initially cleared the ball away from danger. When Lowton controlled the ball on his chest, there didn’t seem to be much threat for Asmir Begovic and his defenders.

Having controlled the ball beautifully, Lowton’s second touch was inch-perfect as his dipping volley looped over Begovic and into the net. It was a fitting goal to win an important match and was the spearhead towards an impressive run that secured safety for Paul Lambert’s side.


Great Goals: Maynor Figueroa – Stoke City vs. WIGAN ATHLETIC (December 2009)

Honduran international Maynor Figueroa was a slightly underrated player. He put in some great displays during his time as a Premier League player for both Wigan Athletic and Hull City. At Wigan, he produced an eye-catching moment in December 2009 at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium which ended up deservedly winning the 2009-2010 Goal of the Season award.

Wigan’s on-loan winger Scott Sinclair won a free-kick just inside his own half. There didn’t look like to be any danger for the Stoke defenders to seriously worry about. Figueroa though had other ideas. Quick-thinking and spotting Thomas Sorensen off his line, he launched the free-kick at goal from 50+ yards. He judged it absolutely perfectly as the ball flew over Sorensen and into the net. Some goals from the halfway line are considered to be lucky. This one was all about judgement and perfection. Figueroa clearly meant this and it worked to perfection.

The points were shared on the day between the sides in a 2-2 draw but the headlines were all about this brilliant moment from an unlikely goalscoring source.

Premier League Rewind: 20th-22nd January 2018

Results: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-4 Chelsea, Arsenal 4-1 Crystal Palace, Burnley 0-1 Manchester United, Everton 1-1 West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City 2-0 Watford, Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield Town, West Ham United 1-1 AFC Bournemouth, Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United, Southampton 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City 1-0 Liverpool FC

With Christmas well and truly over and the January transfer window in full swing, a question had been asked of runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City. A week earlier, the Citizens lost 4-3 to Liverpool FC, losing their first league match of the campaign. Could Pep Guardiola’s side return to winning ways?

They made no mistake against Newcastle United, beating the Magpies 3-1. Sergio Aguero was in peak form against Newcastle again, scoring his seventh hat-trick in the competition and his second against the Toon Army after his five-goal haul against them in October 2015. It was a perfect way to mark his 200th appearance in the competition.

Manchester City remained 12 points clear at the top of the table after Manchester United extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight matches. Anthony Martial’s strike after 54 minutes saw Jose Mourinho’s men record a narrow 1-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor. By contrast, Burnley’s bright start to the season had been checked. They were still eighth in the table but winless now in seven games and had lost their last three matches. The Red Devils were yet to concede a goal in 2018.

Liverpool FC should have been on a real high after the victory over Manchester City. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side inexplicably lost their next match, going down 1-0 at The Liberty Stadium to struggling Swansea City. Virgil van Dijk made his league debut for the Reds after his £75 million move from Southampton making him the most expensive defender in world football. However, he was partially responsible for the only goal of the game, scored by Swansea centre-back, Alfie Mawson. Swansea remained bottom but were now just three points adrift of safety.

Following a humiliating exit at the hands of Coventry City in the FA Cup earlier in the month, Stoke City had parted company with Mark Hughes after nearly five years in-charge. After missing out on their prime target, the Derby boss Gary Rowett, it was Paul Lambert who stepped in to fill the breach. He made the perfect start as the Potters beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 to lift themselves outside the drop zone. They were replaced in the bottom three by Southampton, who hadn’t won a game now in nearly two months. That was despite the Saints earning a decent point against Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Kane scored the equaliser for Tottenham. It was his 99th Premier League goal.

The match at Goodison Park between Everton and West Bromwich Albion was completely overshadowed by a horrific injury to Everton midfielder, James McCarthy. An unfortunate collision with West Brom forward Salomon Rondon saw him suffer a double leg fracture and leaving the field on a stretcher. Rondon was seen in tears after the incident which meant the final 1-1 scoreline was made completely irrelevant by these events.

Sam Allardyce was the man in-charge of Everton but their prime target to succeed Ronald Koeman had been Marco Silva. The Watford boss had been the subject of an approach by Everton in mid-November. The Hornets turned the approach down but their form completely nosedived after this. A 2-0 defeat away at Leicester City spelt the end for Silva. He was sacked by Watford less than 24 hours after the loss at The King Power Stadium.

What else happened in January 2018?

  • Cyrille Regis dies after suffering a heart attack, aged 59. He won five England caps and represented the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and Aston Villa during a 19-year professional career.
  • The UK’s second-largest construction company, Carillion goes into liquidation with debts of £1.5 million. Over 19,000 jobs in the UK disappear with the collapse.
  • A huge fire at the Liverpool Echo Arena car park destroys 1,400 cars.
  • The United States government enters a federal government shutdown as a result of a dispute over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  • A total lunar eclipse takes place. It is the first blue moon eclipse since 1983.
  • After touring for nearly 50 years, Sir Elton John announces his retirement.
  • Professional dancer Brendan Cole announces he is leaving Strictly Come Dancing after being with the series since its inception in 2004.

Premier League Rewind: 19th-21st August 2017

Results: Swansea City 0-4 Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth 0-2 Watford, Burnley 0-1 West Bromwich Albion, Leicester City 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion, Liverpool FC 1-0 Crystal Palace, Southampton 3-2 West Ham United, Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal, Huddersfield Town 1-0 Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea, Manchester City 1-1 Everton

The second weekend of the 2017-2018 Premier League season saw Manchester United steal an early march on all of their prospective title rivals. By the conclusion of the second round of fixtures, the Red Devils were one of only three teams to hold a 100% record.

Having thrashed West Ham United 4-0 on the opening weekend, Jose Mourinho’s side repeated the scoreline on their first away trip of the season which was in South Wales against Swansea City. The final score might have flattered them slightly but it came about through a devastating spell of three goals in the final 10 minutes. New striker Romelu Lukaku made it three goals in two matches and delightful finishes by Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial added to the glee of the supporters. Two games, two wins, two clean sheets, six points and eight goals scored. It was the perfect start for Mourinho in his second season in the Old Trafford dugout.

The other two sides still with a perfect record were slightly more unexpected in the shape of Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion. Huddersfield had made a dream start to their Premier League life. After beating Crystal Palace 3-0 a week earlier, Aaron Mooy’s marvellous long-range effort was enough to defeat Newcastle United in the Terriers’ first home match in the top-flight. Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion recorded their second successive 1-0 success, this time at Turf Moor away at Burnley. Hal Robson-Kanu made a dramatic contribution off the substitutes’ bench. First, he scored the winning goal after 71 minutes. 12 minutes later, he caught Matthew Lowton with his elbow and was duly sent off by referee Martin Atkinson. Little did the Baggies supporters realise at the time but this would be their last victory in the top-flight until mid-January.

After a shocking home defeat to Burnley, the pressure was already on championship-winning manager Antonio Conte and his shell-shocked Chelsea side when they travelled to Wembley Stadium for the first-ever Premier League match at the home of English football. Tottenham Hotspur were playing at Wembley for the season whilst their normal home was being redeveloped but it wasn’t a good start. They were defeated 2-1 by the champions. The hero was left-back Marcos Alonso, who scored both goals including a majestic free-kick. It looked like Chelsea had rediscovered their mojo.

On the Monday Night Football, Manchester City and Everton played out a stormy encounter at The Etihad Stadium which ended with the points shared and both teams finishing with 10 men. Wayne Rooney became only the second player in Premier League history to reach the milestone of 200 goals when he opened the scoring on a clinical counter-attack 10 minutes before half-time. The Citizens had Kyle Walker sent off on his home debut before half-time but put the pressure on and eventually found a way through with eight minutes left through a Raheem Sterling equaliser. Everton’s Morgan Schneiderlin was also given his marching orders before the end of the match. This draw would turn out to be City’s only dropped points until New Years’ Eve.

Arsenal were once again beaten at their bogey ground. Jese made an instant impact at Stoke City. On-loan from Paris Saint-Germain, the Spaniard scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal lost at Stoke for the fifth time in 10 seasons. Former champions Leicester City scored the fastest goal of the campaign when Shinji Okazaki found the net inside a minute. Harry Maguire headed home on his debut in the second half as the Foxes defeated Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0.

What else happened in August 2017?

  • One of the giants of the UK TV industry, Sir Bruce Forsyth passes away at the age of 89. His career in showbiz spanned an extraordinary 75 years with shows such as The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and Strictly Come Dancing.
  • At the age of 96, The Duke of Edinburgh carries out his final official engagement before retiring from public duty.
  • A four-year Renovation begins on Big Ben, meaning the chimes of the famous clock fall silent.
  • Two legends of the athletics track & field era bow out at the World Athletics Championships in London. Usain Bolt and Mo Farah both retire after the championships, with Farah moving into marathon running and Bolt hanging up his spikes for good.
  • 15 people are killed in a terrorist attack in Barcelona; one is a seven-year old, with dual British-Australian nationality.
  • 108 people are killed in the United States as Hurricane Harvey strikes Houston. The total damage of the storm reaches $125 billion.
  • The UN Security Council unanimously approves fresh sanctions on North Korean trade and investment.

Premier League Files: Stephen Ireland

Premier League Career: Manchester City (2005-2010), Aston Villa (2010, 2011-2013), Newcastle United (2011), Stoke City (2013-PRESENT)

Stephen Ireland’s career started with plenty of potential at Manchester City. Now at the age of 31, he has just experienced Premier League relegation for the first time in his career with Stoke City. The former Republic of Ireland international has had some injury problems in Staffordshire. However, his lack of progress since leaving Eastlands in 2010 is startling.

Born in Cork, Ireland was spotted playing junior football by several British clubs. He eventually chose Manchester City and made his professional debut for the club as an 18-year-old in September 2005. He came on as an 81st minute substitute in a narrow 1-0 home loss to Bolton Wanderers. It was ex-Nottingham Forest left-back Stuart Pearce who gave Ireland his senior breakthrough and it happened around the same time where other City graduates were making an impact on the first-team line-up. They included Lee Croft, Micah Richards and Joey Barton.

Two weeks after his first Premier League appearance, Stephen made his first start in the 2-0 victory over Everton and won the Man of the Match for a very impressive full start. He ended a promising first campaign with 28 appearances and a new contract that would keep him at the club until 2009. His rapid progress continued in a struggling side in 2006-2007. Ireland scored his first Premier League goal on Boxing Day in a crucial 1-0 victory away at Sheffield United.

Sven-Goran Eriksson succeeded Pearce in the summer of 2007 and ensured Ireland remained a key part of the Citizens midfield. He scored four times in the Premier League in 2007-2008. One of these strikes did attract some controversy though for his celebration against Sunderland. After scoring the only goal of the game, he dropped his shorts to reveal a pair of underpants sporting the Superman logo! He was given a warning by the FA for his actions. This came in a tricky period for the midfielder where his international career came to a shuddering halt.

After scoring four times in just six international appearances and days before a crunch European Championships qualifier against the Czech Republic, Ireland was given compassionate leave by his international manager, Steve Staunton. Staunton had received a phone call from Ireland’s girlfriend reporting the death of his maternal grandmother. However, the media quickly learned this was a lie and Ireland changed his story announcing it was his paternal grandmother who had passed away. More lies were discovered in the days that followed and he was forced to finally tell the truth, admitting he was making an excuse to leave the team hotel so he could visit his girlfriend in Cork. It was naïve, angered a lot of people and damaged his professional reputation greatly. He would never play international football again.

Despite this damaging episode, he remained an integral part of Manchester City’s plans, even in the early years of the Abu Dhabi Group’s takeover which would turn their fortunes completely around. This included 13 goals in all competitions in the 2008-2009 season when Mark Hughes was the first-team manager. However, Roberto Mancini’s arrival and his signings of Patrick Vieira and Nigel de Jong limited his impact in the second half of the 2009-2010 campaign. His Manchester City career had reached its conclusion.

In August 2010, he was made a makeweight in a deal with Aston Villa which saw the reigning PFA Young Player of the Year, James Milner move to City effectively as his replacement. Ireland left some stinging criticism for his former employers, saying: “Even the young lads (at Villa) are so polite. I’m actually quite shocked with that. At City they’re not like that. They’re coming in with £10,000 watches on their wrists and walking around as if they have played 200 Premier League games.”

His debut for the Villans was a disaster. Aston Villa lost 6-0 to Newcastle United and he was quickly dropped and criticised for his lack of work ethic by Gerard Houllier. He was made surplus to requirements and after just six months at Villa Park, was loaned to Newcastle for the remainder of the 2010-2011 campaign. Ankle injuries restricted him to just 49 minutes of first-team football on Tyneside and his career looked dangerously in limbo going into the summer of 2011.

Stating he was keen to fight for his first-team place at Villa Park, Ireland was handed the no.7 shirt by new manager Alex McLeish following Ashley Young’s departure to Manchester United. He responded well by winning the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, starring in particular at Stamford Bridge with a goal and an assist in Aston Villa’s 3-1 victory on New Years’ Eve.

However, he quickly fell out of favour with Paul Lambert when he took over as Villa manager in 2012 and was left out of the first-team squad for “footballing reasons” for the remainder of the season from January onwards. He was reunited with Hughes in September 2013, linking up with the Welshman at Stoke City. Since then, Stephen has made 59 appearances, scoring twice but again, he has made limited impact.

A broken leg in May 2016 didn’t help matters and he failed to make a single appearance for the Potters in 2017-2018 when their 10-year tenure in the Premier League came to an end. Out of contract this summer, it is highly unlikely he will stay when the retained list comes out in the coming weeks. Stephen Ireland’s career has been full of frustration and disappointment. When he finds the right environment, he can be a real force for the team. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really found that since he left Manchester City.

The Clubs: Stoke City

All data correct upto 9th April 2018

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
375 115 106 154 393 520 -127 451 10


Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Ryan Shawcross 312
Glenn Whelan 277
Jon Walters 226
Peter Crouch 197
Geoff Cameron 167
Erik Pieters 164
Asmir Begovic 160
Matthew Etherington 152
Robert Huth 149
Marc Wilson 146


Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Peter Crouch 43
Jon Walters 43
Mame Biram Diouf 23
Marko Arnautovic 22
Charlie Adam 19
Ricardo Fuller 18
Ryan Shawcross 14
Xherdan Shaqiri 14
Bojan 14
Matthew Etherington 13


Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Stoke City 4-0 Newcastle United 19th March 2011 2010-2011
Aston Villa 1-4 Stoke City 23rd March 2014 2013-2014
Stoke City 4-1 Fulham 3rd May 2014 2013-2014
Stoke City 3-0 Blackburn Rovers 6th February 2010 2009-2010
West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Stoke City 20th November 2010 2010-2011
Stoke City 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 26th April 2011 2010-2011
Stoke City 3-1 Arsenal 8th May 2011 2010-2011
Stoke City 3-1 Blackburn Rovers 26th November 2011 2011-2012
Stoke City 3-1 Liverpool FC 26th December 2012 2012-2013

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Chelsea 7-0 Stoke City 25th April 2010 2009-2010
Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City 14th October 2017 2017-2018
Manchester United 5-0 Stoke City 15th November 2008 2008-2009
Bolton Wanderers 5-0 Stoke City 6th November 2011 2010-2011
Chelsea 5-0 Stoke City 30th December 2017 2017-2018
Newcastle United 5-1 Stoke City 26th December 2013 2013-2014
Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Stoke City 9th December 2017 2017-2018
Liverpool FC 4-0 Stoke City 19th August 2009 2009-2010
Manchester United 4-0 Stoke City 9th May 2010 2009-2010
Sunderland 4-0 Stoke City 18th September 2011 2011-2012



Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Tony Pulis 5 21st May 2013
Mark Hughes 5 6th January 2018
Paul Lambert 1 18th May 2018


Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Stoke City 1-2 Everton 17th March 2018 30,022 2017-2018
Stoke City 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion 10th February 2018 29,876 2017-2018
Stoke City 2-0 Huddersfield Town 20th January 2018 29,785 2017-2018
Stoke City 0-4 Chelsea 23rd September 2017 29,661 2017-2018
Stoke City 2-2 Leicester City 4th November 2017 29,602 2017-2018
Stoke City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur 7th April 2018 29,515 2017-2018
Stoke City 1-2 AFC Bournemouth 21st October 2017 29,500 2017-2018
Stoke City 1-0 Arsenal 19th August 2017 29,459 2017-2018
Stoke City 0-3 Liverpool FC 29th November 2017 29,423 2017-2018
Stoke City 2-2 Manchester United 9th September 2017 29,320 2017-2018



Stoke City were a consistent part of the Premier League for the last decade. Promoted in 2008, they managed three successive top 10 finishes during Mark Hughes’ largely successful stint in-charge of the club. Their physical approach to the game hasn’t won many friends, especially Arsene Wenger but it has won them many matches and plenty of points. However in 2017-2018, their Premier League stay came to an end, being relegated on the final Saturday of the season with Paul Lambert unable to steer them clear of the drop.



Stoke City were tipped to go straight back down by the media after their promotion to the Premier League but Tony Pulis would defy the critics in their first season in the top-flight as they finished in a comfortable 12th place.

Rory Delap’s long throw-ins caused problems for many teams over the season and the likes of Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal were all beaten at The Britannia Stadium in the first four months of the campaign. Despite a poor December which saw the Potters drop into the drop zone, Pulis made good use of the January transfer window. He bought James Beattie and Matthew Etherington and both signings made a great impact.

Beattie scored the only goal as Stoke ended a run of nine matches without a win at the end of January against Manchester City and further important victories away at West Bromwich Albion and Hull City ensured their survival two games before the end of the season.



After a successful first season in the Premier League, Pulis splashed £20 million on new acquisitions with the Middlesbrough duo of Tuncay and Robert Huth among the arrivals. A fabulous 1-0 away victory at White Hart Lane over Tottenham Hotspur was the highlight of the first half of the campaign and an excellent 11-match unbeaten run at the start of 2010 ensured Stoke were under no threat of relegation. They finished 11th, one place and two points better than the previous campaign.

The only sour note was a home defeat to Arsenal which saw Ryan Shawcross criticised massively for a terrible tackle on Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey that left the Welshman with a double leg fracture.



It was a slow start to the 2010-2011 season as Stoke City went through August pointless and winless. A late 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in mid-September effectively kick-started their season and it would ultimately be another campaign in the realms of mid-table. Once again, they achieved 40+ points, although they finished 13th in the final standings – slightly lower than the 2009-2010 finishing position.

It was a historic season though as the Potters reached the FA Cup final, losing the showpiece event 1-0 to Manchester City. However, City’s involvement in the UEFA Champions League through their league position ensured Stoke would get a taste of UEFA Europa League football for the following season.



Stoke’s first excursion into European football for the first time since 1975 was a main talking point leading up to the 2011-2012 season. Pulis managed to entice the likes of Cameron Jerome, Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch to the club in the summer and Stoke made it out of the group stages, before bowing out to Spanish giants Valencia in the round-of-32.

In the league, eight points from their first four games hinted at an improvement but the extra demand of European fixtures took its toll on the squad. Stoke won just four league matches after Christmas and finished in their lowest Premier League position of 14th, though still a comfortable nine points clear of the relegation zone.



Stoke City’s 150th year of existence would be a disappointing season and would ultimately spell the end of Tony Pulis’ reign as manager. Just one win in their first 10 matches set the tone for a lacklustre campaign which saw the club score just 34 goals in 38 matches. Only relegated Queens Park Rangers scored fewer.

A 3-1 Boxing Day victory over Liverpool FC was a standout result but just nine wins were recorded all term and a relegation battle looked like a distinct possibility after a dismal 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa in early April. Back-to-back late season wins over Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City ensured their survival but owner Peter Coates decided a change was needed in the managerial helm.

Two days after the season ended, Pulis parted company with the club by mutual consent after seven successful seasons and was replaced by the former Blackburn Rovers and Fulham manager, Mark Hughes.



On his arrival in the summer of 2013, Mark Hughes was keen to change Stoke’s style of play and attempt to play a more possession-based style. Initially, it took time for the players to adapt to his way of thinking and Stoke spent most of the first part of the season just outside the relegation positions.

A 2-1 victory over Manchester United in early February, thanks to a brilliant performance from Charlie Adam spearheaded a revival in fortunes. This included a run of four successive victories in March. Stoke finished in the top 10 for the first time in their Premier League history. They finished in ninth position with 50 points. It was their best top-flight finish since 1975.



Hughes enjoyed a brilliant early season result as new signing Mame Biram Diouf scored the only goal in a 1-0 away victory at champions Manchester City. Despite disappointing home defeats to newly-promoted Burnley and Leicester City, Stoke looked set for another top 10 finish and equalled their 9th place finish from 2013-2014. However, they improved their points tally to 54.

This included a 3-0 whitewash of Tottenham Hotspur followed by the club’s biggest-ever Premier League victory on the final day of the season, as Liverpool FC were dismantled 6-1. Diouf impressed in his debut season with Stoke, finishing as top goalscorer with 11 goals.



Long-serving trio Asmir Begovic, Steven N’Zonzi and Robert Huth all left the club in the summer and with the funds from these departures, Hughes broke the club’s transfer record to tempt Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri away from Inter Milan for £12 million. Hopes were high with supporters to try and break into the Premier League’s top eight but it didn’t quite happen.

Despite some great results, including a 2-0 Boxing Day triumph over Manchester United and a thrilling 4-3 win over Everton, some charitable defending saw Hughes’ side suffer some heavy defeats in the closing weeks, including a triple spurt of 4-1/4-0 defeats to Liverpool FC, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

It was another 9th place finish but they did finish one point ahead of reigning champions Chelsea.



Stoke City had finished the 2015-2016 season in poor form and that continued into the 2016-2017 season. 15 goals were conceded in the opening six matches and Stoke collected just two points in this period.

A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United started to take the Staffordshire side away from danger as they lost just one out of their next eight matches. However, their season never really hit any sparkle and for the first time under Hughes’ management, Stoke finished in the bottom half in 13th place. Murmurs around the newly-titled bet365 Stadium were beginning to sound out about the lack of progress under the Welshman.



The sale of star player Marko Arnautovic to West Ham United in pre-season raised further concerns with the supporters but a 1-0 home win against Arsenal initially calmed any early frustrations. They were also the first team to take points off Manchester United with two goals from new signing, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. However, their defensive problems returned and the Potters suffered heavy losses to Manchester City (7-2), Tottenham Hotspur (5-1), Chelsea (5-0) and West Ham United (3-0).

After a shock loss in the FA Cup third round to Coventry City, Hughes’ contract was terminated to the delight of many supporters. He was replaced by former Norwich City and Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert. Lambert started with a 2-0 home win over Huddersfield Town but Stoke only won one further match and in their final home game of the season, a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace saw the club relegated back to the Championship.

Now it is the ex-Luton Town boss Nathan Jones in-charge and with play-off hopes slipping away, it is looking like Jones’ main task now is to stabilise the club for the remainder of this campaign before attempting to steer the Potters back to the top-flight next season.

Memorable Matches: Stoke City 3-2 Aston Villa (August 2008)

Goalscorers: Liam Lawrence 30 PEN, John Carew 63, Ricardo Fuller 80, Martin Laursen 84, Mamady Sidibe 90


Stoke City: Thomas Sorensen, Leon Cort, Andy Griffin, Carl Dickinson, Abdoulaye Faye, Rory Delap, Amdy Faye (Salif Diao 72), Seyi Olofinjana, Liam Lawrence, Ricardo Fuller (Richard Cresswell 87), Dave Kitson (Mamady Sidibe 76)

Aston Villa: Brad Friedel, Curtis Davies, Martin Laursen, Nicky Shorey (Wayne Routledge 73), Luke Young, Gareth Barry, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor, John Carew

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 27,500

The 2008-2009 season was Stoke City’s first campaign in the Premier League. The home supporters at The Britannia Stadium were looking forward to the club’s first home match at this level against Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa side. This game would set the tone for their season and the style of play they were going to bring to the top-flight.

Stoke had lost their opening match of the season a week earlier, going down 3-1 at Bolton Wanderers, whilst Villa had beaten Manchester City 4-2 as Gabriel Agbonlahor helped himself to an opening weekend hat-trick. O’Neill’s side were considered the favourites as they turned up in Staffordshire for what turned out to be an engrossing Premier League battle.

Stoke had a secret weapon which they were about to share with the Premier League public. Rory Delap’s vicious long-throws were a tactic that would work on many occasions in their first couple of Premier League campaigns. Early on, it looked like Villa’s defenders were struggling with the extra aerial bombardment. They fell behind in the 30th minute to a slightly contentious penalty. Referee Mark Halsey believed Martin Laursen had clipped Delap in the penalty area. Liam Lawrence kept his composure and despite Brad Friedel guessing the right way, Lawrence’s spot-kick was good enough to defeat him and give the Potters’ their first Premier League home goal.

O’Neill was furious with Halsey’s decision and chased him down the tunnel at half-time. Whatever he said at the interval to his players, they came out a different team in the second half. Just past the hour mark, they were level. Ashley Young’s brilliant back heel played John Carew in. The tall Norwegian striker produced a trademark finish, across the bows of ex-Aston Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.

With 10 minutes left, Stoke got back into the lead with a piece of individual brilliance from Ricardo Fuller. Flicking the ball away from Laursen, the Jamaican got the space he craved and from a tight angle, got the better of Friedel to put the home side back in control. Laursen was experiencing an uncomfortable afternoon but six minutes from time, he scored a fairly scrappy goal after Young drove a free-kick into the box which the defenders failed to clear.

It had been an end-to-end battle and a winner always looked likely. Sure enough, it came in injury-time for the Potters. With 30 seconds left, Delap played another dangerous throw-in and substitute Mamady Sidibe climbed highest. His header left Friedel stranded and ensured Stoke’s first Premier League win in a thrilling contest.

Tony Pulis’ side were tough to beat at home all season. Arsenal and Tottenham were among their victims on their way to a 12th-place finish. Aston Villa were in the UEFA Champions League qualification race until a dismal March saw them fade out of the picture but they still finished sixth for a second straight campaign.

Premier League Files: Ryan Shawcross

Premier League Career: Stoke City (2008-PRESENT)

When Stoke City took to the field for their opening Premier League match away at Bolton Wanderers in August 2008, there is one player who remains firmly part of the club. Skipper Ryan Shawcross played all 90 minutes that afternoon in the 3-1 loss to the Trotters. Shawcross has been an integral model of Stoke’s consistency in the top-flight which is in severe jeopardy this season as they endure their toughest time as a Premier League club.

A persistent back injury in recent seasons has limited Shawcross to only a handful of appearances but there is no question that when he is fit and playing, Stoke look a far more organised outfit at the back.

Shawcross began his career with Manchester United but never made a league appearance for the club. He only featured twice in low-key League Cup ties against Crewe Alexandra and Southend United. He spent some time on-loan at United’s feeder foreign club, Royal Antwerp in Belgium before first linking up with Stoke in the summer of 2007.

He made a brilliant start to his life in Staffordshire, scoring the winner on his debut for the club against Cardiff City before netting in a League Cup game at Rochdale which Stoke would lose on penalties. Initially on-loan to the club, his excellent performances meant the Potters were very keen to turn this into a permanent transfer. Sure enough in January 2008, Stoke paid Manchester United £1 million to acquire Shawcross’ services on a permanent contract and he helped them achieve promotion to the Premier League in May, as Stoke finished runners-up in the Championship to West Bromwich Albion. He was named in the Championship PFA Team of the Year, alongside Stoke colleagues Liam Lawrence and Ricardo Fuller.

Although he started that match at Bolton on the opening weekend of Stoke’s Premier League journey, Shawcross found it tough to break into the first-team in the club’s first few months as boss Tony Pulis preferred to play his summer arrival, Ibrahima Sonko. Sonko’s dreadful performances though saw him dropped in mid-November and Shawcross then scored valuable goals in Stoke’s push towards survival, including a winning effort against Middlesbrough in March that transformed their season. Stoke finished a fantastic 12th and Ryan’s performances had been noted by several other Premier League sides.

He scored on the opening weekend of the following season against Burnley and his impressive performances continued. In February 2010, Fabio Capello called him up to the England squad for the first time for the international friendly with Egypt. It should have been a day of celebration but it turned out to be a day which saw Arsenal fans never forgive Shawcross for a tackle that is among the worst the Premier League has ever seen.

Midway through the second half, Shawcross took a heavy touch and caught Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey just above the ankle as he stretched for the ball. Ramsey collapsed to the ground on contact and in a similar situation to the injury that befall Eduardo two years earlier, television broadcasters opted not to show replays as it was so gruesome. Ramsey sustained a horrific leg break which would keep him out of football for a year and referee Peter Walton had no option but to send Shawcross off. He departed the pitch shaken and in tears. Pulis defended him afterwards, telling BBC Sport: “It is a bad challenge but I know Shawcross. He has got no bad blood in him whatsoever and there is no way in a million years he would ever go out to hurt anybody. I really mean that.”

Shawcross apologised via a text message but it left a bitter taste with many Arsenal supporters after previous sickening injuries to both Eduardo and Abou Diaby. Things could have got more awkward between Shawcross and Ramsey when Chris Coleman tried to persuade Ryan to switch international allegiances from England to Wales in 2012 but Shawcross rejected the proposal as he had still hoped to make an international breakthrough with The Three Lions.

Away from this dark moment and Shawcross’ performances continued to be strong, consistent and excellent. He took the captain’s armband in 2010-2011, replacing Abdoulaye Faye in the role and led Stoke out at Wembley Stadium for the 2011 FA Cup final, although they would lose the showpiece event 1-0 to Manchester City. Three years later, he became the first Stoke player to reach the total of 200 Premier League appearances as he continued to retain the captaincy even after Pulis’ departure in 2013. 2013-2014 was arguably his best campaign in a Stoke shirt, as they finished in ninth position in the table and he was chosen as the Player of the Year by his teammates.

He scored their first goal of the following campaign to rescue a 1-1 draw with Hull City and also netted the first Premier League goal of 2015, scoring from a corner in the draw against his former side, Manchester United. A month later, he sustained a back injury which has become a nagging issue over the past three seasons and although he is still firmly a regular in the team, his physical presence has been hindered because of this injury.

There was speculation that Ryan would sever his ties with Stoke in the summer of 2017. About to enter the last year of his contract, Burnley were linked with making a £10 million bid which Stoke dismissed as just “absolute baloney.” On transfer deadline day, Shawcross penned a new four-year contract which will keep him at the club until 2022.

After 10 years of loyal service to Stoke City, Ryan Shawcross is one of the club’s greatest players and certainly their most influential person in their Premier League story.

Premier League Files: Ricardo Fuller

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2004-2005), Stoke City (2008-2012)

Jamaican forward Ricardo Fuller enjoyed a successful spell in the Premier League with Stoke City. After failing to make the grade at Portsmouth, Fuller was one of the leading stars of the early Stoke years in the Premier League under Tony Pulis.

He began his English journey with Crystal Palace in February 2001, signing after impressing Eagles’ management on trial. Unfortunately, he struggled to settle in the capital and with knee problems too, it restricted him to just eight league appearances as Palace narrowly avoided relegation to Division Two. He was released and returned to his homeland with an unpredictable future.

He tried his fortunes in Scotland next, as Hearts signed him for the 2001-2002 season from Jamaican side Tivoli Gardens. He scored eight times in 27 appearances and finished as the club’s joint top scorer for the campaign. Unfortunately for the Jambos’ fans, the Edinburgh club couldn’t afford to sign Fuller on a permanent basis. So, he went back to English football, with Preston North End swooping in to sign Fuller permanently. Arguably, his time with Preston was probably the most prolific of his career. He scored 30 times in two seasons and it would have been far more had it not been for a bad knee ligament injury he sustained in December 2002. In June 2004, Fuller decided it was time to try his luck in the Premier League, so handed in a transfer request.

His persistent knee problems in English football so far meant there were few suitors for Fuller’s services, despite his instincts infront of goal. Only Leeds United and Portsmouth displayed interest and the former had just dropped out of the top-flight. Ricardo failed medicals with both teams but Harry Redknapp maintained an interest and eventually, agreed a fee with Preston to sign the player in August 2004. He scored on his debut against Crystal Palace but his impact was limited. Redknapp left Portsmouth two months later and he fell down the pecking order under Alain Perrin’s stewardship. His goal against Palace was the only one he struck in Portsmouth colours. After another failed medical, this time at Sunderland in the summer of 2005, he eventually moved to Pompey’s bitter south coast rivals Southampton, to reunite with Redknapp who had controversially moved onto St Mary’s after his exit from Fratton Park.

His stay at Southampton was not the greatest. Again, Redknapp left shortly after signing him to incredibly return to Portsmouth. The fans struggled to accept him in their colours because of his Pompey connections and there was a general feel that Fuller’s commitment to the club wasn’t always 100% evident. He went on-loan to Ipswich Town and was eventually moved to Stoke on transfer deadline day in August 2006. Whilst Preston gave Ricardo his best scoring days, Stoke would be his longest and strongest period of his footballing career.

If Southampton fans didn’t enjoy him, Stoke supporters loved him. Fuller scored 26 goals in his first two seasons to help the Potters’ reach the promise land of the Premier League. He won the club’s Goal of the Season award in 2007-2008 for a solo effort against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite his popularity, Fuller was no stranger to trouble either. He received two red cards in his debut Stoke season and was also sent off for violent conduct against West Ham United when he slapped his teammate Andy Griffin in the face!

These transgressions apart, Tony Pulis seemed to always get the best out of Fuller. He scored some brilliant individual goals, including efforts against Aston Villa in August 2008 and West Ham United in March 2010 that won the club’s Goal of the Season awards. Fuller also scored Stoke’s first-ever Premier League goal, although this came in a defeat to Bolton Wanderers.

Injury unfortunately meant he missed out on the club’s FA Cup final appearance in 2011 and another red card away at Chelsea a year later didn’t go down well with Pulis. Fuller had stamped on Branislav Ivanovic and the manager called him ‘ridiculous.’ With Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones now at the club as the preferred partnership, Fuller was no longer an automatic pick when fit and Stoke decided to release him at the end of the 2011-2012 campaign.

That would be his final Premier League hurrah. He retired in May 2016 after spells in the Football League with Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Millwall and Oldham Athletic. In the international spectrum, he played 73 times for Jamaica in a career that spanned an incredible 16 years.

Ricardo Fuller was a tempestuous figure but always could produce magical moments from nowhere and Stoke fans certainly enjoyed his combative and abrasive style of play in their Premier League story.

Shock Results: Stoke City 6-1 Liverpool FC (May 2015)

Goalscorers: Mame Biram Diouf 22, 26, Jonathan Walters 30, Charlie Adam 41, Steven N’Zonzi 45, Steven Gerrard 70, Peter Crouch 86


Stoke City: Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Marc Muniesa (Marc Wilson 71), Ryan Shawcross, Erik Pieters, Glenn Whelan, Steven N’Zonzi, Charlie Adam, Jonathan Walters (Peter Odemwingie 67), Mame Biram Diouf, Marko Arnautovic (Peter Crouch 81)

Liverpool FC: Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Emre Can (Kolo Toure 45), Alberto Moreno (Jordon Ibe 45), Lucas, Joe Allen (Rickie Lambert 69), Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho

Referee: Mark Halsey, Attendance: 38,216

The final day of the 2014-2015 season is a day Stoke City fans will never forget and a day that goes down as Liverpool FC’s darkest in Premier League history. It was one of those scorelines where you have to read it again and check it wasn’t a misprint.

It was meant to be a fond farewell for Liverpool FC skipper Steven Gerrard. Gerrard had announced five months earlier that he was going to leave Merseyside and finish his career in the United States with LA Galaxy. His 710th and final appearance for his boyhood club is one he will want to erase from his memory.

Manager Brendan Rodgers was already under pressure after an underwhelming campaign that had seen the Reds slip from a title near-miss in 2013-2014 to a distant fifth place coming into the match. The club were also caught up in a contract wrangling mess with young starlet Raheem Sterling, who had submitted a transfer request earlier in the week. Rodgers wanted to show who was boss. Sterling sat all afternoon on the bench as an unused substitute. He would never play for the club again.

However, after a pitiful first 45 minutes, Rodgers probably wanted a hole to open up inside the Britannia Stadium and for him to jump into it. Liverpool caved in spectacularly and became the first side to trail by five goals at half-time in a Premier League game since Burnley went into the dressing room 5-0 down against Manchester City in April 2010.

Mame Biram Diouf opened the scoring on 22 minutes. He was quickest to react after Charlie Adam’s shot had been parried by Simon Mignolet. Four minutes later, he was given lots of space and tried his luck – successfully to put Stoke in a commanding position. Mark Hughes’ side had the game all but wrapped up by the half-hour mark. Lax defending from emergency centre-back Emre Can allowed Jonathan Walters to pounce and score his first goal since a hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers at the end of January. Defeat for Liverpool was turning into annihilation. Adam made it 4-0; cashing in on sloppy play from Lucas to smash the ball past Mignolet from 20-yards out. Just before half-time, Steven N’Zonzi scored his fourth goal of the season with a thumping drive that no goalkeeper would have saved. Stoke supporters were on cloud nine.

Rodgers sent Can and the hapless Alberto Moreno packing at half-time and there was a slender improvement in the second half. Gerrard raced clear in the 70th minute and scored his 186th and final goal for the club but he had little to celebrate. There was still enough time for former Reds striker Peter Crouch to score a trademark header and make it 6-1. It was Crouch’s 47th headed goal in the Premier League, breaking a record previously set by Alan Shearer.

Stoke finished ninth with a record points tally of 54 points. It was the first time Liverpool FC had let six goals in during a league match in 52 years. They dropped to sixth and after a poor start to the following campaign, Rodgers was sacked in early October.

It was a sorry end to Gerrard’s LFC career but a joyous day for everyone connected with Stoke City.

Premier League Files: Charlie Adam

Premier League Career: Blackpool (2010-2011), Liverpool FC (2011-2012), Stoke City (2012-PRESENT)

Charlie Adam has now been a fixture in the Premier League for over eight years. Currently at Stoke City, the Dundee-born midfielder has experienced the highs of scoring infront of The Kop for Liverpool FC and the pain of relegation with Blackpool despite some inspirational individual performances in 2011.

Scottish international Adam joined the books of Glasgow giants Rangers aged just 17 and made his first-team debut for the club against Livingston in 2004. However, it wouldn’t be until 2006 before he became a regular player in their matchday squads. In amongst this gap, he had loan spells with Ross County and St Mirren. During his time with Rangers, he scored in Europe’s premier club competition against VfB Stuttgart twice and was part of the Gers’ side that made the 2008 UEFA Cup final, although he was an unused substitute in the showpiece event against Zenit St Petersburg.

In February 2009, Charlie moved south of the border and joined Blackpool on a temporary deal. It wasn’t a great start. He was sent off on his debut against Doncaster Rovers. However, he impressed on his return from suspension and eventually, a deal was done for Adam to head to Bloomfield Road on a permanent basis.

He was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and was instrumental in Blackpool’s play-off matches in 2009-2010. He scored a matchwinning penalty to defeat Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals, before striking in the final over Cardiff City from a trademark free-kick. Despite finishing sixth, Blackpool’s dramatic 3-2 victory with Adam as the creative lynchpin meant they were heading for the realms of the Premier League.

He continued to star, especially in the first five months of Blackpool’s Premier League adventure. He scored a penalty in the club’s famous win at Anfield and produced a series of special free-kicks, including strikes away from home at Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. His head was turned in January 2011 by interest from several leading Premier League sides. Liverpool FC had a £4.5 million bid turned down and Tottenham Hotspur were also heavily linked with the player. Although he handed in a transfer request, Blackpool turned it down and he got on with the job of trying to keep the Tangerines’ in the Premier League. His performance levels though did inevitably drop following the speculation. Despite his best efforts, which included 12 goals and a nomination for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Adam couldn’t stop Blackpool avoid an agonising relegation on the final day of the season.

In July 2011, Liverpool FC finally got their man after seeing two earlier bids by Blackpool rejected. Charlie started strongly on Merseyside, swinging in a free-kick on the opening day against Sunderland that was guided in by Luis Suarez. Two weeks later, he scored his first goal for the Reds’ infront of The Kop in the 3-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the central midfielder. A silly red card at Tottenham, injuries and a loss of confidence from the penalty spot meant he didn’t have the impact he’d hoped for at Anfield. Kenny Dalglish was sacked and Brendan Rodgers decided Adam wouldn’t fit into his plans. He moved to Stoke City in August 2012.

Things started shaky at Stoke, despite winning goals against Queens Park Rangers and Fulham. He was given compassionate leave after the tragic death of his father but didn’t fit into Tony Pulis’ tactical plans. A crucial winning goal against Norwich City in April 2013 was enough to ensure Stoke weren’t dragged into a relegation scrap. It was an emotional moment for Charlie, who dedicated the goal to his late father. However, his mediocre season ended with yet another red card against Tottenham Hotspur.

2013-2014 was a much better season with Mark Hughes having replaced Pulis in the Stoke hotseat. Adam scored seven goals, including two goals against Manchester United which set Stoke up for their first win over the Red Devils in 20 years. He matched this goalscoring tally the following season which included a special strike from over the halfway line in a 2-1 loss to champions Chelsea. He later described his goal at Stamford Bridge as a “once in a lifetime goal.”

His last two seasons haven’t produced the same total in terms of goal return but Adam is still very much a part of the first-team squad at Stoke. Whilst he isn’t a guaranteed starter every single week, he still will always pose a threat from long-range and will remain as committed as ever in the tackle.

The Managers: Tony Pulis

Premier League Clubs Managed: Stoke City (2008-2013), Crystal Palace (2013-2014), West Bromwich Albion (2015-PRESENT)

In 2018, Tony Pulis will celebrate his 60th birthday. The Welshman has become a specialist in stabilising Premier League teams. He gets the absolute maximum out of all of his players and whilst his teams might lack the overall superstar who will wow supporters, he will ensure his sides are tough to break down and specialise in their strengths to win football matches.

Pulis has attracted criticism from some of the modern day fans. Some feel his tactics are dull and make games to watch uninspiring. Sometimes, it is a fair point but if you asked fans of his current club West Bromwich Albion, you would want to survive in the Premier League. Survival is more important than substance and Pulis does this brilliantly.

He now been managing for the best part of 25 years and it took a while to reach the promise land with Stoke City in 2008. Since then, Tony has been a regular fixture in the Premier League managerial dugout.

Playing attempts

Like many before him, Pulis went into management after the end of his playing career. He spent 17 years kicking footballs rather than coaching footballers and being a defender, you can see why he always builds his teams from the back.

During his playing days, Pulis played for five teams in his career. He even spent one season playing abroad in Hong Kong for Happy Valley – one of the most successful clubs in the country with six domestic championships.

He began his playing career at Bristol Rovers and also featured for local club Newport County AFC, Gillingham and AFC Bournemouth. He would go on to manage the latter two clubs in his career and his break came soon than expected at Dean Court.

Filling Harry’s shoes

Coaching was always in Tony’s mind, even in his early playing career. He obtained his FA coaching badge at just 19, followed by his UEFA ‘A’ licence aged 21 – making him one of the youngest professional players ever to have obtained the qualification.

He wound down his playing time with Bournemouth, eventually taking the management role in 1992 when Harry Redknapp quit, becoming Billy Bonds’ no.2 at West Ham United. A couple of 17th-place finishes weren’t anything to write home about but he was up and running and his next stop was a more successful spell at Gillingham.

He managed them for four campaigns and turned them from relegation strugglers to promotion contenders. In 1999, he took Gillingham to the Division Two playoff final and a meeting with Manchester City at Wembley. What followed next was one of the most sensational playoff finals of all-time. It looked like Pulis was going to take Gillingham up. They dominated the game and eventually took the lead through Carl Asaba, before Robert Taylor doubled the lead. Then, Manchester City produced an unbelievable turnaround to level the game at 2-2, before winning the penalty shootout 3-1. City would go onto achieve back-to-back promotions. Pulis would be out of work just weeks later. A falling out with owner Paul Scally led to his sacking for a claim of gross misconduct. He would sue Scally later for unpaid bonuses which were eventually settled out of court.

Brief spells at Bristol City and Portsmouth going into the millennium didn’t work out and it wasn’t until 2002 until he seemed to have found a home which was with Stoke City. However, that wouldn’t be without dramas of its’ own.

Reaching the promise land eventually at Stoke

Tony took over a team struggling in the First Division in November 2002 and managed to grind out enough victories and points to survive relegation on the final day of the season. The loan signings of Mark Crossley and Ade Akinbiyi played a pivotal part in the Potters’ escaping the drop. Even to this day, Pulis claims this is one of his finest achievements in management.

An 11th-place finish followed in 2003-2004 but soon, relations soured between Pulis and the Icelandic owner of the club, Gunnar Gislason. Rows broke out over the club’s transfer business. Pulis was furious that his main forward, Akinbiyi was sold to Championship rivals Burnley and no proven replacement came into the club. Gislason wanted the Welshman to spread his wings and use the foreign market. It was never going to end well and he was sacked in June 2005. The official reason given was “failing to exploit the foreign transfer market.”

He went to Plymouth Argyle, who were also flying high as a Championship club and a 14th-place finish was an overachievement considering the club’s own restrained budgets and expectations. Although he enjoyed his time with the Pilgrims’, Pulis had unfinished business at Stoke and when a board takeover happened, speculation intensified that he would return to the Britannia Stadium.

Less than a year after leaving Stoke, he returned to the club as manager with Peter Coates as the new owner. He backed Pulis in the transfer market and Tony started to bring in very solid Championship players including Danny Higginbotham, Ricardo Fuller and Rory Delap. They were in the playoff shake-up for much of the 2006-2007 season but a draw on the final day against Queens Park Rangers meant they eventually finished in eighth spot. A more serious push followed in 2007-2008. Again, Pulis used the loan market to great effect, which included the arrival of Ryan Shawcross. On the final day of the campaign, Stoke’s draw with Leicester City was good enough to take them up to the Premier League for their first top-flight season in 23 years.

His Premier League break had finally arrived.

Finals and Europe visit the Britannia

Stoke immediately made the Britannia Stadium a feared place to come for opponents. Aston Villa, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were among the early casualties to come a cropper in Staffordshire. A poor Christmas programme dropped the club into the bottom three but the January signings of James Beattie and Matthew Etherington were brilliant bits of business that allowed the club to push clear of danger.

Despite starting 2008-2009 as a favourite for relegation, Pulis took the club to an impressive 12th-place finish, securing safety three games from the end of the season. In 2009-2010, there was more progress with a run to the FA Cup quarter-finals and an 11th-place finish in the league, two points better than the previous campaign.

The achievements kept coming for Tony and the club. In 2011, Stoke thrashed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-finals to reach an FA Cup final for the first time in their history. Although they lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the showpiece event, City’s guaranteed Champions League participation ensured Stoke a place in the UEFA Europa League for the 2011-2012 campaign.

As Europe beckoned, a stronger squad was required. The club’s transfer record was broken to sign the likes of Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch. Crouch’s £10million arrival meant that record had been broken for a fourth successive season. They advanced to the knockout rounds of the Europa League and only narrowly went out 2-0 on aggregate in the last 32 to former Spanish superpower Valencia.

However, despite all of this success and a strong bond with the club’s owners, Tony couldn’t break Stoke into the Premier League’s top 10. 11th in 2009-2010 remained the highest finish and as progress stagnated, he parted company with the club at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign. He took a six-month hiatus from football but was soon back to try and rescue Crystal Palace.

Reviving Palace and rejuvenating Albion

Pulis succeeded Ian Holloway in November 2013 to take over a Crystal Palace side that had won just twice and were bottom of the Premier League. It was going to be a tough job but early victories in his reign at home to West Ham United and Cardiff City suggested he could turn things around.

He exploited the January transfer market again and did some great business. Joe Ledley from Celtic, defender Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers and Wayne Hennessey were among the five acquisitions he made. A run of five successive victories in April 2014 saw him take the Manager of the Month award and eventually, survival was comfortably achieved. To put it into context, no Palace manager had previously steered the club clear of relegation in the Premier League era. They finished 11th with 45 points and Pulis’ work was recognised. He was given the title of Premier League Manager of the Year.

However, his time at Selhurst Park would be short. Feeling he wasn’t being backed in the summer transfer market by the Palace board, he left by mutual consent just two days before the start of the 2014-2015 campaign. For the second successive season, Tony would spend the opening weeks away from the dugout.

He returned on New Years’ Day 2015 though, taking over as Head Coach at West Bromwich Albion after they dispensed with the services of Alan Irvine. There was an immediate response to his appointment. Darren Fletcher arrived from Manchester United to take over the captaincy and victories included a 3-0 win over champions Chelsea. West Brom finished 13th having looked like a serious relegation contender until Pulis’ arrival through the door at the Hawthorns.

In 2015, he broke West Brom’s transfer record to sign the nomadic Venezuelan forward Salomon Rondon and also added Jonny Evans, James McClean and Rickie Lambert to the ranks. In 2015-2016, West Brom were in no relegation danger for much of the campaign but did finish a rather uninspiring 14th. The highlights of the campaign were home victories over Arsenal and Manchester United.

2016-2017 saw Pulis finally finish a season in the top 10 as a Premier League manager at the ninth attempt of asking. Matt Phillips, Hal Robson-Kanu and Nacer Chadli for a new club-record fee were among the new arrivals and West Brom started to become a more attractive side to watch. Their 2-1 victory in November 2016 at champions Leicester City was seen as a turning point in their season – a day when they outplayed and outclassed the champions.

There was an excellent 3-1 success over a dispirited Arsenal in March 2017 and for much of the campaign, West Brom were best of the rest, looking set for an eighth place finish. Unfortunately, form tailed off after a creditable point at Old Trafford and they slipped behind Southampton and AFC Bournemouth in the final week of the season. Nevertheless, it had been a very positive season for everyone connected with West Bromwich Albion.

Although club captain Fletcher departed for Stoke after talks broke down over a new contract, Pulis has had an outstanding summer transfer window. He brought in long-time target Jay Rodriguez from Southampton, young Scottish talent Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig and the loan signing of Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain. Two wins and a draw from the club’s first four matches of 2017-2018 hints that it could be another strong season at the Hawthorns.

Tony Pulis’ ability to keep struggling clubs away from the threats of relegation can’t be questioned. He might one of the rare breed of old-fashioned managers who prefers the long ball style of play. However, it has always worked for him and there is no need to change this, especially as he has a proud record of never being relegated as a player or manager. Having just extended his contract to stay at West Bromwich Albion until 2019, expect Tony Pulis to be around in the Premier League for some time to come.