Strengthening at Britannia Stadium has already begun.
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Since their promotion in 2008, Stoke City have become a solid Premier League side who look far from out of place in the top flight.
That is not to say that they go unnoticed.
Stoke have fashioned their own brand of effective football under Tony Pulis, and though it has earned criticism from those used to watching Barcelona, the simplest response is to just ask: what is wrong with playing to your strengths?
Part of the beauty of football in comparison to other sports is that there is more than one way to win.
Stoke are set on building on their initial solidity, and have already set about making some new signings – with players with strong physical presences generally those signed.
In fact, recent signing Jermain Pennant is the only man below the 180cm mark in the Potters squad besides Matthew Etherington.
The club’s other acquirement, John Carew on loan, will keep Kenwyne Jones, Jonathan Walters and Ricardo Fuller on their toes.
At least just to make eye contact – Carew is now the tallest of the Stoke forwards at 195cm.
However, though it is likely that the majority of Stoke City’s transfer business is concluded, the Potters continue to be linked with players.
Let’s sift through ten of those players and discuss which of those options are viable.
1. Grant Holt
Though Grant Holt has scored more than a goal every two games for Norwich City since he signed in the summer of 2009, the fact that Stoke City have signed Carew on loan mean another striker seems unlikely – even if Ricardo Fuller is about to leave for Sunderland.
Holt is a fine player who has lit up the Championship in the last two seasons to become one of its most feared strikers, but the fact that Stoke scouts were seen at the Middlesbrough v Norwich match is now thought to have been because they were watching the home team’s David Wheater – who has since signed for Bolton Wanderers.
2. Curtis Davies
Stoke’s central defensive pairing of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth is one of the most intimidating in the league in terms of size and strength, and but the club does not boast brilliant backup.
Abdoulaye Faye has struggled with injuries recently, and lost the captaincy to Shawcross in the summer, while Danny Higginbotham doesn’t play too often either in central defence or at left back.
Curtis Davies appears to be surplus to requirements at Aston Villa, with James Collins and Richard Dunne returning to the form of last season, and if the Daily Mirror are correct, Gerard Houllier may sanction his sale.
A better ball playing centre half than his Stoke counterparts, Davies needs to work on his positional discipline and concentration.
Tony Pulis will certainly be able to help him with those.
3. Michael Mancienne
Chelsea central defender Michael Mancienne, on loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers, is a younger alternative to Davies, but one with similar attributes.
Indeed, Mancienne’s footballing abilities have led him to be played in an anchor midfield role for Wolves, but the fact that Chelsea elected against recalling him from his loan in January despite their defensive crisis at the time is not good indictment of his future at Stamford Bridge.
Mancienne is likely to be allowed to leave Chelsea in the summer, and while Stoke could place a bid in January to secure his services on a permanent basis, they are more likely to wait until the summer to decide.
4. Robbie Keane
Tottenham Hotspur forward Robbie Keane has been linked with all and sundry this transfer window.
The Irishman’s mooted move to Birmingham was the oddest however.
The club said that Keane demanded extortionate wages – while Keane denies any talks even took place.
If Keane can get anywhere near the heights he reached a few seasons ago, he could be an excellent signing for any team, but one suspects that like Eidur Gudjohnsen, his best days are past him.
Spurs’ £6m valuation of the 30 year-old is optimistic at best.
5. Stephen Ireland
Stephen Ireland was voted Manchester City player of the season in 2008-09 with Mark Hughes as his manager, but since then his stock has fallen dramatically.
Having lost his place in the side under Roberto Mancini, Ireland then signed for Aston Villa as part of the James Milner deal, but he has failed to deliver on the pitch and has been criticised for his displays in training.
Ireland is a more creative player at his best than Stoke fans are used to seeing in central midfield, but there seems little sign that he is returning to his best.
Perhaps a spell under a disciplinarian Welsh manager could help the troubled Irishman play to his potential again.
6. Adam Barton
20 year-old Preston player Adam Barton plies his trade in central midfield, and both the Daily Mirror and News Of The World have recently linked him with Stoke City.
He is a dynamic and energetic presence in the middle of the park, and could provide welcome competition for Dean Whitehead and Rory Delap.
With Preston demanding up to £5m for his services though, Tony Pulis will have to decide whether his potential is worth such such an outlay.
7. Zoltan Gera
Zoltan Gera has proven himself to have plenty of heart and ability in the Premier League for West Bromwich Albion and Fulham.
Voted player of the season at Craven Cottage in the last campaign, Gera has since found competition for a place with Mouassa Dembele, and would consider a move to the Britannia Stadium according to the Daily Mail.
Gera would certainly benefit from the knockdowns provided by Stoke strikers, and his never-say-die attitude would be a great example to some of the club’s young players – though at 31 he may not have many years left at the highest level.
8. Ross Turnbull
Chelsea have been linked with a move for Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic for a very long time, but the clubs have as of yet been unable to agree an arrangement.
If Turnbull was included as part of a cash-plus-player deal though, perhaps Tony Pulis might listen.
After all, both clubs would then have the backup goalkeeper they need, while Stoke would have money to spend elsewhere…
9. Paul Konchesky
…such as left back.
Danny Collins begun the season in decent form for the Potters, but as the player said himself back in October:
“There is a lot of competition here now in every area on the pitch, so the lads who are playing at the moment, like myself, know we have to keep performing. If we don’t then there are options there for the manager to change things.”
A move for troubled Liverpool left back Paul Konchesky could well be on the cards, with the Anfield side looking ever more likely to secure Stephen Warnock for that position from Aston Villa.
10. Marek Jankulovski
A more ambitious move would be for AC Milan star Marek Jankulovski.
The Rossoneri have just signed Urby Emmanuelson from Ajax, and Jankulovski’s place in the team is seriously under threat.
Though 33 years of age, he still possesses considerable pace, is an accurate crosser of the ball and takes a mean free kick.
He is able to play on the left wing as well as in central defence, and as a UEFA Champions League winner would add substantial experience to Stoke.
If he is available for as little as £1m or even a free transfer, he would be a fine asset for Stoke.
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