Since the end of last season Stoke have added 10 new faces to the squad, the majority with Premiership experience or lower Premiership quality. Doesn’t sound too bad. Indeed they might allow Stoke to make a bit of a fight of it. It is steady if not spectacular building by manager Tony Pulis. But while £20 million pounds spent sounds a lot, especially for Stoke, the Transfer Deadline passed without any real exciting additions, and critically the key areas of weakness in the side were not fully addressed, something which may prove critical in the months ahead. My pre-deadline shopping list would have included the following as minimum: a dedicated left-back, a dedicated left-midfielder, preferably a winger, a creative central midfielder, and at least one more striker. The actual purchases were another central defender who can play left-back if pushed, and two midfielders, one of which is able to play on the left, and neither really proven at this level. From what I’ve seen so far, for all the spirit and effort shown by the Stoke side, and indeed an increasingly inclination to pass the ball around more, the overall approach is still fairly limited. The main tactic is to chase balls down the flanks and put the opposition under pressure deep in their own half forcing them to concede either corners, or more typically throw-ins. Rory Delap will then hurl in one of his monster throws, and Stoke try to capitalise on the confusion in the penalty box. The introduction of creative or wide midfielders might offer other attacking outlets, so players of this nature were an absolute must, but whether the ones that arrived are of the suitable standard remains to be seen. A huge concern is the inability to add to the forward line seeing as an injury to or suspension of Fuller and Kitson leaves Stoke fielding Championship standard strikers that can be best described as “honest”.

The final word must go to the departure of another “honest” striker, Jon “The Beast” Parkin who Stoke sold to Preston North End on deadline day. Parkin split fans’ opinion down the middle into two clear camps. He was either detested as an unprofessional waster whose lack of fitness was an absolute disgrace, while to others he was a characterful cult hero serenaded with the chant “Beast, Beast, Beast”. Parkin could have had great appeal, even hero status, forgiven all his indiscretions if he’d scored more often. A professional footballer he may be, the Beast’s appearance was more in keeping with the watching faithful. He was almost of comic book story proportions, real Roy of the Rovers stuff. Picture if you will Melchester Rovers needing a win to avoid relegation in the last match of the season, the manager and his assistant frantically trying to conjure up a goal from a desperately dire display. The clock is ticking and with 5 minutes to go the scores are tied at 0-0. A big lad is needed up front, but the star forward is out injured and the substitutes bench has been decimated by a stomach bug. They look round and spot the giant Parkin in the crowd, unshaven, half cut, and enthusiastically tucking into a pie, gravy stains down the front of his replica shirt. “Here laddie we need you”, shouts the assistant, “Come over here and get these on”, hurling him a pair of boots. Parkin straddles the advertising hoarding with one last mouthful of pastry, squeezes into the boots and a borrowed pair of shorts, then takes to the pitch as the crowd roars on one of their own. His first touch is to barge past the opposition’s strapping centre halves, and get his considerable weight behind a deep cross into the box to meet it first time with a thunderous volley which rockets past the hapless keeper and bulges the back of the net. The stadium goes berserk, Melchester Rovers are safe from relegation, and Parkin staggers off the pitch exhausted but the unlikely hero.

Pure fantasy, but I’m sure there’s large parts of the Stoke crowd who would have forgiven, nay revelled in a hero who rolled up to the ground 15 minutes prior to kick off, nourished by a pre-match meal of pub pie and chips washed down with three pints of Marston’s Pedigree, before belting home a couple of wonder goals to help his team to victory. Frankly they’d have loved it. No doubt Parkin’s behaviour was never that unprofessional, but then again given his appearance few would be surprised if that was his match day routine. Personally I thought it shame he never showed his true talents, whether it be through lack of fitness, or either the reluctance of the manager to pick him, or use Parkin in the wrong system. When used as an impact player coming on late in the game, his deft touches and intelligent reading of the play often gave Stoke a different dimension, fresh impetus, and a more skilful attacking edge. Sadly he lacked the fitness to maintain that drive for a full 90 minutes, which was no doubt his undoing, and the reason he was not considered part of Stoke’s Premiership plans. Farewell Beast, you had your moments, you could have claimed hero status but ultimately you wasted your chance. Good luck at your new club, and as tradition dictates you are sure to score against us when Stoke next play your new team!

While most of the national media have been frothing over the drama of Dimitar Berbatov moving from Tottenham to Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City’s astonishing swoop for Robinho from Real Madrid, over in the Potteries Stoke City were involved in their own transfer deadline day maelstrom. Could Tony Pulis bring in the faces that might help the Potters avoid relegation from the Premiership after only one season?

From 7pm my monitoring of the situation was constant. Sky Sports News remained on the television, while the laptop in the lounge kept tabs on the Stoke City official site, Oatcake fanzine messageboard, BBC Sport Football Transfer Live Text, and Sky Sports Deadline Clock Watch simultaneously. The tension mounted as midnight approached, the sums Stoke were allegedly offering are still hard to grasp. Stoke fans are used to no news deadline days, or aged journey men arriving either for free or “nominal fees”, in otherwise a few grand and a dozen oatcakes. But this year Stoke had a dedicated Sky reporter outside the Britannia Stadium, and after the Manchester clubs must have received the most interest as bids of £5 million and then £6 million for Cardiff’s midfielder Joe Ledley flew from the Potters’ fax machine.

Yet as I now turn in for the night it seems a bit of an anti-climax, possibly a disappointment. The latest news at 01:15 is:

- Cardiff City turned down a £6m bid for Ledley refusing Stoke permission to talk to the player
- Wigan Athletic also were unwilling to sell striker Henri Camara after Stoke showed late interest
- Defender Danny Higginbotham rejoined Stoke from Sunderland for a fee believed to be around £2.5m
- Midfielder Tom Soares arrived at 8:30pm and was signed from Crystal Palace just in time before midnight for £1.25m
- Another late move saw midfielder Michael Tonge bought from Sheffield Utd for £2m
- Jon “The Beast” Parkin left Stoke to join Preston North End permanently after an initial loan

Stoke have added to their squad, but will it be enough? More analysis and comment after a much needed sleep.