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Ferguson advised Pulis to go to Eagles

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CRYSTAL PALACE manager Tony Pulis has revealed Alex Ferguson was a key influence in his decision to take on the job at a time when he had considerable doubts about it himself.

When Pulis was confirmed on November 23 as the successor to Ian Holloway, things were not looking promising for the Eagles, who were bottom of the Premier League with just four points from their opening 11 games of the campaign.

Now, with four more fixtures remaining, their survival appears secure after Wednesday's 3-2 win at Everton – their fourth victory in a row – took them to 11th place and 10 clear of the relegation zone.

Asked if he had had doubts about becoming Palace boss, Pulis, now a candidate for Premier League manager of the season, said after the Goodison Park triumph: "Yes – it was difficult. I spoke to Steve (Parish, the Palace co-chairman) about four or five times.

"I met him the one time and I didn't feel as though it was right. Then, Steve wanted to have a chat again. He came down to Bournemouth and we had a good chat about it, and he convinced me that it was a challenge. Looking at it, everyone I had spoken to had said it was a difficult one.

"Alex Ferguson and Peter Coates, my old chairman (at Stoke), were the only two who said to take it. And they were two good judges. The rest were very negative towards it.

"It's in my nature to stand up and try to march people forward and we've done that."

While Palace's momentum continued on Wednesday, Everton saw their own top-flight winning streak come to an end after seven successive victories.

Everton's next fixture is Sunday's home clash with Manchester United and England full-back Leighton Baines – who the Red Devils tried to sign from the Merseysiders last summer – is keen to keep things in perspective ahead of that match.

Baines said: "We were on a good run of wins, and to lose one game, it doesn't take anything away from the way we have been playing. We have just got to get back on track as quickly as possible."

BARCA DOUBLE BLOW

A nightmare eight days for Barcelona was compounded yesterday when forward Neymar and defender Jordi Alba were ruled out for up to a month.

Brazil international Neymar has a bruise on his left foot which has caused a build-up of fluid while Spain left back Alba has a strain in his right thigh, Barca confirmed.


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