Potters make their point but Tuncay's exit strategy puts it up to Pulis
Stoke City 0
Aston Villa 0
TONY PULIS, the Stoke City manager, faces another test of his authority after forward Tuncay Sanli reacted petulantly to his substitution in the 53rd minute at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday and flounced out of the ground early.
It is the second time this season that the Turkey striker has left the ground before his team-mates returned to the dressing room. Pulis, who has also had to deal with the fallout of an alleged head-butting incident with James Beattie, now has to decide whether to sanction the player.
Beattie has been frozen out after his altercation with the Stoke manager and looks set to leave the club this summer. Tuncay has struggled to hold down a regular place since joining from Middlesbrough for £5m last August as Stoke have continued to overachieve.
In November, after Abdoulaye Faye was sent off in a 2-1 defeat by Hull City, Tuncay was replaced in a tactical reshuffle only seven minutes after coming on as a late substitute and ran down the players' tunnel to leave the KC Stadium by taxi.
Tuncay and Mamady Sidibe were withdrawn nine minutes into the second half of Saturday's match against Aston Villa. As the crowd booed the decision, the former Fenerbahce player ignored Pulis as he ran straight for the exit.
Ricardo Fuller and Dave Kitson, the substitutes, promptly helped Stoke to lift their game, the latter linking the play well and Fuller coming close to scoring on four occasions.
"I don't have to justify my substitutions to Tuncay or anybody else," Pulis said. "I do it because I feel it's right for the team, it's nothing personal."
Fuller has also provided Pulis with plenty of man-management challenges. Most recently, he was arrested after an incident in a nightclub before charges against him were dropped.
In Stoke's previous home game, a 3-1 defeat by Arsenal, Ryan Shawcross left the ground after he was sent off for the challenge that left Aaron Ramsey with a double fracture of his right leg. On that occasion, Pulis had nothing but sympathy for the player.
In a rigorous battle on Saturday, Villa showed all the mettle that has earned them the best defensive record in the Premier League. Richard Dunne and James Collins, in particular, were "really great", according to Martin O'Neill, their manager.
Villa trail Tottenham Hotspur by six points in the race for fourth place but have two games in hand. "We're in with a massive shout," Collins said. (© The Times, London)