Davis: Alex cut down to size
Thu, 11 Apr 2013 11:36:00
Stoke manager Tony Pulis is looking forward to locking horns with Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
Pulis is desperate for a win after seeing his side slip to within three points of the Premier League relegation zone, but he is aware that Sir Alex Ferguson's team will be keen to bounce back from Monday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City.
He said: "It's a game that we are looking forward to. This is why you want to be in the Premier League. We have given them good games here before.
"They have just lost against City, and I'm sure Fergie will have been at them this week. It will be incredibly tough for us.
"I accept that in life and in football, you have good times and bad times. It's how you deal with it that is important. Hopefully, with the background I have had, I will be able to see this through. It is a great challenge.
"You get no grace for what you have achieved, people look at what you are doing now, and what we are doing now isn't what we have done in recent years.
"Hopefully, fingers crossed, the lads will enjoy this challenge because we haven't had this before. We are desperate to succeed in it."
Stoke chairman Peter Coates said this week that he believes four more points should ensure survival and Pulis is keen to hit that target as soon as possible.
He said: "People question things when things aren't going well. I am fortunate to have a family in charge of the club who are fantastic.
"This week the chairman has been down and had a chat with the lads. He's a top man, and we are fortunate to have him here.
"The time has come for us to win a couple of games and put this right. Then we will look at what went wrong at the end of the season.
"You can't cherry pick games and look at ones where you will get points. It doesn't work like that. We have to go out and get the points.
"Things aren't going for us at the moment, but when that happens you have to work even harder, and that is what we are doing."
The new manager is faced with a North-East derby in just his second game since succeeding Martin O'Neill, and Sunderland will make the short trip to Tyneside outside the bottom three on goal difference only.
Ahead of the game Di Canio has revealed Pardew wrote to wish him luck in his new job, although the Newcastle boss' generosity does not extend to this weekend.
"Alan Pardew sent me a letter already this week to wish me the best of luck for the future - apart from in the derby, of course!" Di Canio told the Shields Gazette. "My answer was very gentle, but the last line about the derby was very similar to his!
"Alan Pardew is a passionate man. I like him, we don't have to fight. We saw him celebrate with the fans when Newcastle scored a late winner in the last game against Fulham at the weekend.
"When I used to do this in League Two at Swindon, people said: 'he can't do this - he's mad'. But why can't I, or Alan Pardew, celebrate a goal? As long as you don't do anything against the other team, it's fine."
Di Canio endured a turbulent first few days on Wearside as he was repeatedly questioned about his political beliefs, and the Italian was heartened by the reaction of Sunderland's supporters during his first game in charge at Chelsea.
He told the Sunderland Echo: "I understood that it might be that the fans were split over me and that made me very sad.
"But when I heard them singing my name before the game at Stamford Bridge, and especially afterwards when they were singing it again, I cannot tell you how much that meant to me.
"In that moment, in the moment I heard them, it only increased my desire to do well for this club."
Mark Phillips had cancelled out the first-half opener from Dale's Michael Rose within minutes of the restart but a Bobby Grant brace and an Ashley Grimes finish put the result beyond Southend's reach.
Barry Corr, who squandered several chances and hit the post with a header, netted a late consolation.
"I am delighted with that performance," said Hill "It was always going to be difficult to recreate what we produced at Fleetwood where we won 3-0 on Saturday, but we went somewhere near.
"I was really disappointed with the two goals we conceded, especially the timing of their first goal.
"But we responded really well and the goal that took us into the lead at 2-1 came from a brilliant piece of individual skill by George Donnelly, and that has won us the match.
"The confidence was there, the energy and the commitment. It was what I expect and I think it's what the players are coming to expect."
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Marcello Trotta were on target in a 2-0 win for the Bees at Griffin Park as Alex came back down to earth with a bump following Sunday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy final triumph over Southend.
"The players were disappointing after the terrific performance on Sunday," Davis said. "They were were too blasi and sloppy in the warm-up and that's how we started the game.
"They might have been tired but I don't want to make excuses for them, they have to do better than that. They weren't prepared physically or mentally and I have had a go at them for that.
"We didn't compete for the first 20 minutes but we never looked like scoring all night. We could be playing now and we still wouldn't have scored.
"When you only have three or four players near your level you aren't going to win any football match.
"Brentford were decent and are one of the best teams we played. They are competitive and powerful with a threat up front and they have a lot of experience which we are lacking."