Fashionable or not, Soccermongery salutes success and dedicates its latest entry to ...Stoke City!
The Potters' win at Spurs in October was as much about professionalism as it was luck. A classic smash and grab which Soccermongery saw as a breakthrough result. Since then, they delivered a workmanlike but emphatic win over Arsene's Young Guns in the FA Cup. With Manchester United and Liverpool out of the tournament, can Stoke dare to dream?
And in a mood of triumphalism, Stoke's marketing machine are confident enough to produce Cola Sweets (left) for their adoring public!
Stoke don't have to rely so much on Fortress Britannia to earn their points. They can push on and aim for a top-half finish.
It was so vital Stoke survived their first season in the Premier League. Their cornerstone last campaign was a solid home record (crunching tackles and Rory Delap's long throws). But the January Transfer Window heralded a Statement of Intent with the £3.5m arrival of James Beattie, whose goals not only rubber stamped their top-flight membership for another year - but also transformed the way they played.
And with Shawcross tipped for England plus decent players like Huth, Whelan, Lawrence, Fuller and Sorenson, the Staffordshire club can put their neither-here-nor-there city on the map (too northern to be midland, too midland to be northern!).
But it's not just about what they do on the field. Manager Tony Pulis has created a Boot Room of football elders to assist him in the Project: there's no doubt the arrivals of Peter Reid and Gerry Francis, with their years of managerial experience have added dimension to his decisions. It's a bold step for Pulis, as both Reid and Francis could easily be managers-in-waiting if things went Pete Tong.
Yet Pulis deserves to succeed. He's expedient, dedicated to improvement and not afraid to make the big decisions to take Stoke City to the next level. I tip them for a top ten finish.