Soccer

Thursday 31 July 2014

Pulis ready for Stoke reunion

Published 16/01/2014|17:02

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Tony Pulis spent 10 years managing Crystal Palace's weekend opponents Stoke

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis is looking forward to welcoming former club Stoke to Selhurst Park on Saturday but is more concerned by his new side's backward steps since the turn of the year.

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Pulis spent a decade at Stoke, taking the Potters into the Barclays Premier League and reaching an FA Cup final and the Europa League before departing last summer.

Since then he has replaced Ian Holloway at Palace and is looking to pick up a result against his former side as he aims to take his current club back off the foot of the table.

"It is lovely to have Stoke coming down this weekend," he said.

"I had a fantastic 10 years there and have wonderful memories of the club and it is very nice looking back on when we first went there.

"I was talking the other day about (Gerry) Taggart and people like that when we first started. Gifton Noel-Williams and (Ade) Akinbiyi, some of those players don't get the credit - players who kept us up. I don't think people realise that we were one game away from being relegated to the third division when I was first there.

"I've got wonderful memories of that football club and one of the things who will always stick with me is the people - I have great friends there.

"If they want to give me some stick it is not a problem, if they want to clap and cheer then no problem again but nothing would take away my feelings for the area let alone the football club."

Mark Hughes has tried to alter Stoke's approach whilst maintaining the majority of the squad assembled by Pulis, who admits his old players may try a little bit harder than usual.

When asked if facing their former manager may make Stoke's players extra motivated, Pulis said: "I'm sure they will be.

"The team that I will face, 95 per cent of the team are still there and the players are still there.

"They were very good, the majority of those players saw the club get to a cup final and into Europe and have established the club, this is their sixth year in the Premier League."

But as much as Pulis is relishing the clash with Stoke, he knows his current club need to start picking up wins if they are to remain a top-flight side beyond the end of the current campaign.

The Eagles have taken just four points from their last six games and Pulis wants to add to his squad during the January transfer window as he looks to turn form around.

He said: "We need to strengthen certain areas and you are hoping in every game from when the window opens that you will have an extra player with you or someone who could help you along the way.

"If anything, this is our third game this month and we have actually gone backwards with injuries and with the fact Cameron (Jerome) can't play through suspension."

"We have taken a step backwards rather than a step forward which is disappointing but they are a good group of lads and they work really hard."

Palace added 17 new faces to the squad under Holloway during the summer but have yet to recruit any additional players since the window opened at the start of January.

Even a permanent deal to keep Jason Puncheon at the club, with the winger currently on a season-long loan from Southampton, is something Pulis is struggling to achieve.

"It is something that we have spoken about," he said.

"I'm not sure it is a deal the football club can afford at the moment, I think what Southampton want and what we are prepared to play is too far apart.

"I also think, having spoken to Jason, he has reservations in some respects but hopefully if there was a possibility I would be keen to do it."

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