QPR visit the Britannia this weekend with their manager on the verge of getting the boot, but Stoke have also had a poor start to the season, and with the money they have spent in recent seasons, should their fans expect more?
This season is Stoke's fifth in a row in the Premier League, a remarkable achievement and one that Tony Pulis is rightly given a lot of credit for. When they first were promoted, much was made of their direct style and physical combatively on the pitch, with criticism of Rory Delap's long throw particularly common.
Now Stoke are part of the furniture of the Premier League, people have been forced to accept the success that Pulis and his methods have brought to the club.
However there are certain myths that have grown up around Stoke in their time in the league, and these start with the notion they play the way they do because that's the only way a small side can compete in the league.
Stoke are now established in the league, and they are not all that small a side. In the past five years they have the third highest net spend of any side, and in those five years they have spent over £80 million pounds on new players.
This isn't a huge amount compared to the biggest teams in English football, but it is a fair bit more than most sides. There are plenty of other smaller teams in the league who have spent less, played better football, and been as successful as Stoke. Variety is the spice of life, and Stoke's different style is an interesting addition to the Premier League, but they do not play that way because they are a small side.
Given the continued high spending, Stoke could also reasonably expect an improvement in their team's fortunes in the league, but this hasn't happened. In fact they have finished further down the table in each of the last three years, falling behind newly promoted Norwich and Swansea to end up 14th last season. Interestingly the latter side also had a better home record than Stoke, with the Britannia often cited as a fortress.
So far this season Stoke have only won one match in the league, and are currently scoring at a rate of a goal every two games.
Now in their fifth season is it fair to look for a little more from their side either in terms of success or quality of play, especially with a good level of investment made in the players over the past five years?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald