Pulis relishing City clash

BY foxsports • April 18, 2011

Stoke boss Tony Pulis admits his incentive for victory in the FA Cup final will be even greater because Manchester City are the opponents.

The Blues eventually triumphed on penalties to end their short stay in football's third tier, and Pulis has never quite got over it.

"I suppose it will mean more," he said.

"We didn't deserve to lose that game and I had never been back to Wembley for a game since because of it.

"But it made me a much stronger person. You take things out of defeat as well as victory."

The DVD of the biggest semi-final massacre in 72 years should also provide ammunition for Pulis to use against his side's many critics.

Stoke have been labelled as long-ball merchants and even a pub team in some quarters.

Yet none of their five efforts today involved a set piece as Pulis' men romped into their first FA Cup final - after three previous failures at the last-four stage - and booked a return trip to face City on May 14, coincidentally the day when the two clubs were supposed to be meeting in the Premier League.

"We have been criticised and pulled down and I am not sure whether this victory will stop it," said Pulis.

"When we lost our first game at the start of the season, one bookmaker paid out on us to get relegated.

"There is always the stigma.

"The first year we were in the Premier League we worked very hard at being organised and methodical in what we did.

"We have moved on from that and will continue to get better.

"Staying in the Premier League is vital for us. It has given us a little bit more resource to get the Matthew Etherington's and Kenwyne Jones', who we know will improve the team.

"But we don't have the finance to do it over a short period of time and I am pretty single-minded in how I think a football club should evolve.

"People worry too much about what other people think. The best thing is to get on with your job and do the best that you can. Have a plan and stick to it."

The game as a contest was over after half an hour. Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth had given Stoke the perfect start with two goals in seven minutes.

Having started the game with such high hopes, Bolton were left shell-shocked and once Kenwyne Jones added a third on the half hour there was no way back.

Former Bolton player Jon Walters bagged two more after half-time to seal the biggest semi-final victory since Wolves crushed Grimsby.

Win or lose at Wembley, Stoke will qualify for the Europa League if Manchester City finish in the top four, which raises an interesting scenario given the two teams will play each other at Eastlands on May 17, with the possibility that victory for Pulis' team could deny them a place in Europe.

Not that is of any to concern to Bolton, who, by Owen Coyle's admission, let themselves down pretty badly.

"We haven't performed anywhere near what we are capable of," said Coyle.

"That is the hurtful thing and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

"Goals change games but even when things go against you, there are ways of losing games.

"That wasn't one of them. We gifted the goals and we capitulated.

"If we offered that every week we wouldn't be in the Premier League."


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