Saturday, 28 January 2012

Pulis Admits City Fear In Cup Final

Tony Pulis reckons Stoke would have had more chance of winning the FA Cup last year if they faced Manchester United in the final.

The Potters manager is on a mission to return to Wembley having seen his dream of lifting the cup shattered by defeat to City in the showpiece event.

And even though he refused to admit it at the time, Pulis knew before leading his team out at football's HQ, they were on a hiding to nothing.

They lost the game 1-0 as the Blues landed their first major trophy in 35 years and the defeat still pains Pulis now.

Looking back he concedes he would rather have faced a team that might have been blase about a trip to a final.

He said: "The best thing about the FA cup last year was beating Bolton in the semis. We got a game at Wembley where we won.

"The final was not so good. You couldn't say it at the time of the final, as you didn't want to pre-judge anything, but from Christmas onwards Man City were the best team in the Premier League.

"We knew how difficult that game was going to be. It was their first opportunity to win a trophy.

"If we'd played a team that had won trophies after trophy and were only turning up to play Stoke, I think it would have been a better opportunity for us.

"But getting Man City first time around didn't help us. They deserved to win on the day though."

To have a chance of getting back to Wembley, Stoke must win at fourth-round opponents Derby and Pulis is taking no chances.

He'll send out a full strength side, even though the Potters have a league clash with Manchester United looming on Tuesday.

He has a lot of admiration for the job opposite number Nigel Clough has done across the midlands at Pride Park.

Pulis added: "I didn't know his dad Brian, but having met Nigel on quite a few occasions I think he's very much his own man.

"He's different to Brian in that he keeps his own counsel and he's a very strong character and individual.

"I've got a lot of respect for him, with every dealing I've had with him, I find him a very grounded individual.

"He doesn't get carried away, there's no BS around him.

"I think the supporters have been with him and that's helped him. Fans like Nigel and they respect him too, that gives you a bit more grace.

"I've met him after games, and he's always been one of those manager you feel you can sit down and have a pint with.

"There's no airs and graces, there's no big time, he's not thinking about the next angle, he's open and honest."

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