Pulis laughs off Stoke critics

Pulis will certainly enjoy his Christmas this year, with Stoke

eighth in the Premier League in their fourth year back in the top

flight, and also in the last 32 of the Europa League having been

the only British club to progress beyond the group stage. The

Potters still come in for criticism from certain areas, most

recently because of their use of towels, but it is water off a

duck’s back to Pulis. “Most of it just makes me laugh,” he said in

an interview with the Daily Mail. “Manchester City have one of the

biggest pitches in the league and the grass is half an inch shorter

than ours. They also have the best players and the biggest budget.

Everything they want. We go there and we give it our best shot and

we don’t complain when we lose. “But then teams come to the

Britannia and our grass is half an inch longer, the pitch is within

regulation but smaller and they moan if they lose. That pitch is

the same size as the one Arsenal played on for 120-odd years at

Highbury. The same as Goodison Park. “Our fans are great. Arsene

Wenger called us a rugby team and our fans now sing ‘Swing Lo,

Sweet Chariot’ when we play Arsenal. And this thing about towels is

ludicrous. They all wear undershirts and a couple of the lads have

had them cut because they rub under the armpits. It might look like

a towel but I can assure you it’s not While Wenger has been one of

the most vocal critics of Stoke’s in previous years, Pulis has no

personal problem with anyone giving their opinion on the club. “In

life you do the best you can with what you’ve got,” he explained.

“I’ve got no gripes with what people say. I get annoyed if other

clubs criticise us as a club, but personally I try not to let it

affect me. “I can’t affect what Wenger thinks so I don’t worry

about it. “We all need to stop worrying about things we can’t

affect. We worry ourselves into our graves.” One thing Stoke have

been credited for is their positive attitude towards the Europa

League, with the Potters proving that a club of their stature can

compete successfully on two fronts. “I actually think some of our

players were looking forward more to playing in Europe than in the

Premier League, because it was fresh and new,” Pulis said. “We’ve

embraced it, I’ve enjoyed it, and the Britannia on a Thursday night

can be amazing. “We just want to give it a good crack. We need to

make sure we stay in the Premier League but we like to give the cup

competitions a good go too.” Pulis also recognises that playing in

Europe has allowed Stoke to attract better players to the club.

Pulis does not believe he would have been able to sign such

high-profile names as Peter Crouch, Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew

Upson without the lure of European football, and he has been

impressed by the way his new men have settled in. “I think the

biggest thing was getting to the Cup final and into Europe,” he

said. “We felt it gave us a better chance of selling the club to

one or two bigger name players. “At the same time, though, I think

there’s a respect for what we’ve done and the way we’ve done it.

“When it came to speaking to players like Crouch, Woodgate and

Upson, they recognised the fact that we have progressed gradually

year after year. “Signing Crouchy was a real statement of intent,

and he’s not let us down. He’s been absolutely fantastic. “All the

lads who have come in have been fantastic. On and off the pitch.

“They’ve embraced the club, bought into what we’re about. It’s

given everyone a lift because the players who were here already

enjoy working with good new players too.”