STOKE CITY can draw on their experience of previous seasons in facing up to a tough start to their fifth campaign in the Barclays Premier League.
The visit to newly-promoted Reading kicks off another season in the top-flight and comes after the fixture schedules pitted them against other Premier League newcomers, Burnley and Norwich City, in the early stages of recent campaigns at this level.
City’s first away match of last season, in particular, took them to Norwich City where the home side were eager to celebrate their return to the big time.
“We know it’s going to be really tough,” said manager Tony Pulis. “There will be a full house and their place will be rocking because it’s a big occasion.
“We got a taste of that when we went to Carrow Road last season for their first home match back in the Premier League and did well to get a result in the end.
“Just as there was that day, there will be a lot of excitement and anticipation at Reading and they will be desperate to get off to the best possible start.”
He added: “I’ve watched them a couple of times in pre-season and they look a good side. Brian McDermott has signed a player to cover for every position, so they are going into the Premier League with a squad that looks pretty strong.”
Pulis expects the coming season to be even tougher than previous ones in the top-flight, and not just because of the tough start they have been handed.
“The biggest problem is that we have done something different each season since we got promoted which has excited everyone,” he commented.
“It’s been a great journey over the past four or five years, but it gets increasingly difficult to keep giving and giving and giving as expectations rise.”
He added: “We’re in one of the greatest Leagues in the world, if not the greatest, but we mustn’t get too greedy. Staying in the Premier League remains our number one target and so all we are focused on is getting as many points as we can again.
“The fixture list hasn’t been kind to us in that we have a very tough seven or eight games to start the season, but we have to get on with it.”