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Time to finally credit Pulis

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Phil McNulty | 00:00 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

Graham Taylor recognises a familiar tone when he listens to criticism of Stoke City's style and the methods employed by manager Tony Pulis.

Pulis performed the considerable feat of taking the Potters into English football's top tier and establishing them in the Premier League - before embellishing his fine work with an FA Cup final appearance against Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday.

The 53-year-old Welshman has pulled it off against a background of claims that it has been achieved by the simple employment of the long-ball game and freakishly long throws of Rory Delap.

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Taylor has heard it all before during his own time at Watford, when he led the Hornets into the old First Division and the FA Cup final against Everton in 1984 and supports Pulis' approach as passionately as he did his own.

Stoke thrashed Bolton 5-0 to book their place in the FA Cup final - photo: Getty

The similiarities are striking, from the style employed to the criticism attracted by two managers in bringing their unfashionable clubs out of the shadows and into the light.

When Watford reached Wembley, where they lost 2-0 to Everton, Taylor used two wingers in John Barnes and Nigel Callaghan to service strikers Mo Johnston and George Reilly - and a long throw specialist in youngster Lee Sinnott.

Turn the clock forward 27 years to Stoke City's run to Wembley and Pulis has used two wingers in Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington to supply strikers Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters - and a long throw specialist in Delap.

Former England boss Taylor is revered at Vicarage Road for providing the most treasured moments in Watford's history and Pulis could be on the brink of emulating the feat at Wembley with Stoke, who will also be underdogs against Manchester City.

Taylor told me: "I can't speak for Tony Pulis himself regarding the criticism he sometimes gets, but what I do know is that he has never been in charge of a relegated team and to have that record in the amount of time he has been in the game is first class.

"I was criticised about Watford's style of play in the same way Tony has been, and although it never concerned me too much I do feel sympathy for him. The beauty of football is that if you play within the laws of the game you can play in any style you wish and wouldn't it be boring if everyone played the same way?

"There is also a certain amount of double standards as well. I often say during commentaries about a long ball and a long pass. When is a long ball a long pass? Well it is a long pass when certain teams play it and a long ball when Stoke City play it.

"I know there are also some people who think some of Stoke's tackling is out of order but from my personal point of view that is just not the case. When Arsenal were winning trophies they had the worst disciplinary record in the league so I think it is a bit of a stretch when I hear [Gunners boss] Arsene Wenger criticising Tony Pulis and Stoke. I don't think he has done him any favours.

"I fully understand that Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey was seriously injured at Stoke and no one wants to see that but I do not believe for one moment Tony sends his team out to foul the opposition."

Stoke are one of six clubs managed by Pulis during his career - photo: PA

Taylor has followed Pulis' career with interest since the pair first crossed swords in the lower divisions - and has been increasingly impressed with his development as a manager.

"I remember when I went back to Watford for the second time and we were in League One," Taylor added. "We played Gillingham and the man in charge was Tony Pulis. It was always one of the hardest games we played. They were well-organised, worked hard, knew exactly what they were about and what they had to do and gave everything to the cause.

"He has carried that on with his current Stoke team and I don't think fans can ask for any more than that.

"I have followed Tony's career since. He has done a splendid job at Stoke and I'm not sure he gets the credit he deserves for it. I will defend Stoke and I will defend Tony because there is a lot more to them than people give them credit for. They are dismissed too lightly.

"When I was at Watford we played with wide men in Barnes and Callaghan and Reilly and Johnston as strikers and yet we were criticised. You ask John Barnes if we were simply a long ball team, or about the shadow play we used to employ in training to get things rights - and I'm sure Tony does exactly the same.

"I invited some of our biggest critics to come and watch us train at Watford to see what we did but they refused and said they were only interested in what they called 'the end product'.

"Delap's throw is a huge weapon, but when you look at how many games he has played for Stoke in the Premier League and how much professional football he has played, are people seriously saying he has only done that because he can throw a football a mighty distance?

"And are people saying Stoke have established themselves in the Premier League for the third season and reached the FA Cup final simply because they can kick a football a long way? Do me a favour."

Taylor was equally lavish in his praise for Pulis and his players for the manner in which they went about their work in beating Arsenal 3-1 in the Premier League last Sunday, a performance full of commitment and quality only six days before their date at Wembley, when they will try to emulate the success of the 1972 Stoke side that beat Chelsea in the League Cup final.

"For those players to apply themselves in the way they did with Wembley less than a week away and knowing they could be playing in the biggest game of their careers was truly outstanding," Taylor commented.

"It is a credit to them but also to Tony Pulis for getting them in the frame of mind to approach the game and play like that. It was a performance that told you a lot about Stoke's players, but also a lot about their manager."

Now Pulis and his players have got the Wembley stage to show their talents to a wider audience - and get the acclaim Taylor believes they deserve.

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Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Very nice words from Graham Taylor and they will probably be too sensible for some to handle! It is obvious that if we simply hoofed the ball and kicked people we would never have survived 3 seasons in the top flight or reached an FA Cup final.

    Hopefully the FA Cup semi final, our recent 4-0 win against Newcastle, 3-0 win over Wolves and finally the 3-1 win against Arsenal, where we never really got out of second gear, will have made the penny drop for the people who seem obsessed with slating us.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's funny because Tony Pulis has said all along (since promotion) that they will build and improve gradually.

    Well, with Stoke pushing the top half and in the FA cup final, they are already doing better than some teams who have been in the Premier League for 10 years, never mind 3 or 4.

    I say good luck to Stoke in the final, they have had a great cup run and also some brilliant results in the league this season. I'm fully behind Graham Taylor's good words in thinking that they get no credit for what they do.

    Also BBC, I don't think MOTD helps their case with the highlights reel they show, much like some other clubs I might happen to support ;)

  • Comment number 3.

    Completely agree with Taylor. Stoke and Pulis thoroughly deserve a lot of credit for what they have achieved (and I hope they win the FA cup).

    However, I would be interested to see how a Pulis type manager managed team would play, given a squad of players that play more free flowing football e.g. tottenham

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm going to be a tiny bit pedantic...great article

    caption under the the first photograph has the bolton score as 5-1, not 5-0

  • Comment number 5.

    I actually think stoke are going to win. The city players care more about their pay checks than they do the club and stoke have been in very impressive form recently beating bolton and arsenal very soundly. Both of whom i would back to beat city.

  • Comment number 6.

    I hope they hammer City this weekend. It would be great for English football and of course, Stoke! City haven't won a trophy for 35 years but Stoke it's longer! Come on Stoke!

    Who'd have thought Stoke would last this long in the Prem and achieve as much? Not me. Pulis has worked wonders, it matters not how they play.

  • Comment number 7.

    Spot on, come on Stoke do it for the good of football!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    It will be interesting to see what happens because last time Pulis played Man City at Wembley it was in a play off final with Gillingham, and it didn't go too well for him, his side crumbled at the final hurdle, I hope it doesn't happen again.

  • Comment number 9.

    Congratulations to you Mr. Pulis - you are doing an excellent job.

    When you've achieved all you can at Stoke, please, please, please, get on the phone to the FAW. Your country needs you.

  • Comment number 10.

    Watford, Wimbledon, Portsmouth, and St.....! What do these teams have in common?

    They are unfashionable teams that got to the FA cup final by playing ('eye-catching'?) if somewhat unconventional football. The story does not end there. Wimbledon and Portsmouth actual won the FA cup.

    What subsequently happened is that Wimbledon no longer exists, and Portsmouth just about exists. Watford plays somewhere other than the EPL.

    So TP and his team should pray to the Gods of football that the hoodoo that haunts unconventional teams that play in the FA cup final does not apply to Stoke.

    I wish Stoke well and really do hope that they actually beat ManCity on Saturday, if only to spite Phil's premature coronation of ManCity on a different blog!

  • Comment number 11.

    Not before time that Mr. Pulis should get the recognition he deserves. Top manager and top bloke. Wish that there were more English managers like him.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great blog, about time Pulis and Stoke got some credit, instead of so-called "bigger" teams looking down thier noses at them. Couldn't agree more with Taylor's "long ball/long pass" argument...always been a pet hate of mine. Completely depends on the team or player...commentators should be ashamed. When Beckham/Hoddle/Man U etc. do it, it's "on a sixpence". When Danny Higginbotham/Jason Dodd/Stoke do it it's a "hoof". About time fickle football fans started demanding more from our sports journalists, instead of simply accepting the constant drooling over the "top four", how about some celebration of true British grit. Stoke didnt fluke their win over Arsenal, they simply pressed harder over the whole pitch, were well-organised and showed more determination...with much of the credit going to Pulis. Good luck Stoke in the cup final. I certainly hope true British grit wins over $$$

  • Comment number 13.

    I live in France where we get lots of live Premier League games and I remember watching Stoke play with one of my French friends. My friend was very impressed by the style and commitment of Stoke's play. Now there's a truly independent view. I am not a Stoke supporter but I too am impressed with them. They are clearly not just a long ball team and I really hope they stuff Man City on Saturday. That would be really good for the game.

  • Comment number 14.

    Makes me laugh how everyone thinks Man City are bad for football and all of a sudden everyone wants Stoke the Joke to beat us on Saturday..What will be will be but Stoke are "BAD" for football along with Blackburn. I'd rather a Leeds or West ham anyday..true footballing clubs...Long ball teams have no place for me in football.

    Come on City-Lets do this Saturday...Top 4 complete,now for the Cup!!

    You can just smell the fear...LOL-So funny how everyone thinks City have bought Success...You haven't seen the half of it..

    What about an article Mr Mcnulty about the massive spending in East Manchester that Sheikh Mansour has funded creating jobs etc....? Thought not...

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 - did you actually read the article or are you just another footballing bigot who can't stand the fact that a club that is not fashionable has made a success of themselves despite the sneering from the noveau riche that is Man City

  • Comment number 17.

    Great manager and great man. Me and my two young sons are hull city fans. We played Stoke and hung around at the end to try and get some signatures. Tony Pulis was 1st class having time for photos and chat with us. I ll be shouting for Stoke because of that

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Given the relative amount of resources available to both clubs, even if Man City win the cup they'll have underachieved this season and Stoke will have overachieved. To me, a true footballing team is one that works hard for success by building a team over time, not by simply going out and buying whatever player takes the chairman's fancy this week. And what's really bad for football is that coming fourth has somehow become worth celebrating.

  • Comment number 20.

    Have to echo the respect for Pulis that Taylor shows (and this coming from a Bristol City fan!). He conducts himself with dignity on the touchline and the team he is built is certainly high on strength and passion but there is no shortage of talent and skill there either. They simply play to their strengths. They outpassed Arsenal at the weekend because they knew they could. On another day, maybe with the Gunners in better form, they may have adapted that style.

    Saturday will be intriguing. I see it as 60/40 in Man City's favour, so plenty of room for an upset. Mancini has set City up to defend brilliantly as a team, but the defensive unit on its own and as individuals don't convince me (Kompany excepted). Fully exect them to be tested by Etherington and Pennant at FB and don't think Lescott will fancy coming up against Jones either. Think we just have to pray that there's no early goal for City or the matchsticks may have to come out.

  • Comment number 21.

    Stoke City are bad for Engish football. A step backwards for the development of football. When most modern sides are building technical teams who can keep the ball both at the back and front, Stoke is going back to the old division 1. Well, if sides like Stoke continue being successful, expect England to continue dissapointing when it comes to international football..

  • Comment number 22.

    I will be cheering Stoke, because even if I don't like their style sometimes, it is far better than the catennacio employed by Mancini at Citeh

  • Comment number 23.

    It would be interesting to do a poll of the English people who knock Stoke City's style. Would they rather see their national team get knocked out of the World Cup after the group stages whilst they (attempt to) play "proper" football or would they prefer to reach the final using Stoke's tactics?

    I'm just thinking their mindset might change a little if it were a team they cared about who were acheiving success using the Pulis method.

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 10

    Yes, but I don't think Stoke are in such a financial crisis as Portsmouth were. The difference with Stoke is they sell out their 25-30,000 seater stadium every week unlike Portsmouth who had a low capacity stadium, with big wage bills to pay for big players (G.Johnson,Crouch,Defoe,Muntari,Kranjcar etc). As for Wimbledon, their team disbanded as they moved north to become the MK Dons. So I don't think this so called "hoodoo" has been by chance, it has just happened because of things off the football field. This "hoodoo" won't happen to Stoke.

  • Comment number 25.

    If Tony Pulis is such a "top bloke" why did he recall Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh from their loan spells at Preston, simply because Preston sacked underperforming manager Darren Ferguson? It was petty for Ferguson senior to withdraw United's loanees, but for Pulis to follow suit was truly pathetic.

  • Comment number 26.

    Good luck to Stoke City. I hope that you show Citeh that money can't buy you everything. Good luck to Rory Delap as well, it does amaze me as a Saints fan how effective the long throw has become for him. At Saints, we never scored from one of his long throws that I am aware of in fact: I once threatened to streak if we scored from one!
    Seriously though, I will be shouting for the team in Red and White....

  • Comment number 27.

    Pulis has undoubtedly done a fantastic job at Stoke but an interesting point is raised in post 3 as to the type of manager he is. Is Stoke's style of play a Tony Pulis style of play or has it been developed becuase of the players at his disposal.

    This leads to the question of will the big clubs ever come calling for Tony Pulis? Let's go staright to the top and put him in charge of Barcelona. How would they play? It could be that the sterotype that he could be creating for himself could be holding him back from bigger things in the future.

    I know a team I'd like to see him in charge of - Wales. Surely after Speed's had a go the Welsh FA will come calling?

  • Comment number 28.

    It takes an average former football manager to recognise a below average one.....and his team!
    For the sake of the EPL I hope City win comfortably.

  • Comment number 29.

    @21 - Bad for English football? A step back in the development? The only step back in development is the need for English born quality players which is being overshadowed by super-rich clubs, with more and more foreign players, racking up millions of pounds of debt. Our international record is already in tatters if you hadn't already noticed. That's with using the same old players from the same old "fashionable" teams. England have won nothing of importance since you know when. This strategy is obviously not working.

    Stoke City's players have passion - they want to win for the team, for the fans, for themselves. Do you really think those Man City players have any passion whatsoever for their team, their fans, or even this country?

    Stoke City work hard and use their talents to their advantage - that is what any good club does. Why is it that Capello never even considers any players from Stoke?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm a Man City fan, and don't look down on anybody, especially as I'm also a Cheltenham fan, and many, many years ago Tony Pulis cut his teeth with us in the Southern Premier League as coach under Lindsay Parsons. I don't want Man City to take the long route, but as GT says, there is no law against it, and football would be boring if everybody played in the same way. And if it's so crude, I don't understand why it should be criticised. Surely, superior 'cultured' football licks its lips at playing against such naive football, and will overcome it every time?

    And I don't need to be told by life's messed up indivduals who find a refuge on this site how I should feel. I'm very happy to have finished in the top 4, with a possibilty of an automatic CL place, and an FA Cup appearance. It's a sad reflection of the state of someone's life when they fret about the Jones'.

    I'm obviously hoping for a Man City win, but won't begrudge Stoke one, especially as I went to university at Keele. By an odd twist of fate, in my Cheltenham top, I was sat directly behind Lawrie McMenemy with my knees digging into his back at the England Sweden game in Saitama in WC 2002, and he turned around and told me what a mistake Steve Cotterill had made in accepting the Stoke job. "Only the truck drivers stop there!", he said. And how prophetic was that? Stevie was off in a month or 2 to a 3rd team in red and white stripes! On the other hand, another Cheltenham son seems to have found his spiritual home there, and just as everyone at Cheltenham accepts both have moved on to bigger and better things, fans of other clubs should be so graceful if Man City do to them what they have been happy to do to others, Man City in the past included.

  • Comment number 31.

    #30, and by an odd quirk of fate, who was sat directly behind me in Saitama? David Platt! In his role with the England U-21s. On Saturday, he'll be a Sky Blue pitchside.

  • Comment number 32.

    It is obvious that this love-fest is because they have made it to the FA Cup Final. Even a hoofball, foul-everything that moves will play one or two actual games of football every few months and it is these exceptions that these analysts will now throw out as examples of Stoke. I have seen a lot of teams play hoof-ball and play rough fouling tactics - Bolton and Blackburn come to mind recently. But I have never disliked any team more than Stoke. So while this love-fest will continue, Stoke is a dirty, hoof-ball team and the sooner they are out of the PL, the better advert it will be for the PL.

  • Comment number 33.

    Pulis has done a fantastic job and should be the manager of the year.

    The FA cup has always been about the fascination of supposed mismatches, so this should be an interesting final. I shall be rooting for Stoke, in the tradition of supporting the underdog

    Pulis is tactically astute and sets his side up to take advantage of opponents weaknesses. If they are weak in the air at the back then by all means take advantage of it.

    Lot's of goals are scored from set pieces, so why wouldn't you take advantage of all the weapons at your disposal? Doesn't make you a hoofball team.

    Let's hope they get some proper tv coverage of their Europa matched next season. It'll also be interesting to see what european managers and journalists make of their style!

  • Comment number 34.

    Some of the best games I have seen in the last few seasons have involved watching Stoke. More varied play than people give them credit for and it makes them trully entertaining to watch.

  • Comment number 35.

    28. At 08:34am 12th May 2011, Skywalker wrote:
    It takes an average former football manager to recognise a below average one.....and his team!
    For the sake of the EPL I hope City win comfortably.


    So you think it'd be better for the EPL if Stoke, a team full of British players, led by a British manager and with a British chairman, a team who have now started playing some excellent football as evidenced by their recent scorelines, were to lose to Man City, a team full of foreign stars, led by a foreign manager, backed by foreign billionaires, who play a style of football that lends itself to scoring one goal and sitting back doing nothing for as long as possible? I don't follow your logic there.


    32. At 08:43am 12th May 2011, East or West - Liverpool is the best wrote:
    It is obvious that this love-fest is because they have made it to the FA Cup Final. Even a hoofball, foul-everything that moves will play one or two actual games of football every few months and it is these exceptions that these analysts will now throw out as examples of Stoke. I have seen a lot of teams play hoof-ball and play rough fouling tactics - Bolton and Blackburn come to mind recently. But I have never disliked any team more than Stoke. So while this love-fest will continue, Stoke is a dirty, hoof-ball team and the sooner they are out of the PL, the better advert it will be for the PL.


    For a man called 'Liverpool is the best', you seem to have forgotten 'Pool's Houllier days quite readily. And as Graham Taylor said, when Stoke do it it's hoof-ball, when Liverpool or Man Utd do it it's a long pass. It's the same damn thing. Get off your high horse and start appreciating the abilities and hard work of those who deserve the plaudits. By which I mean Stoke City, who, let's face it, have made the FA Cup final to face billionaires while themselves on basically just a shoe-string budget, and are now comfortably in the top half of the Premier League, which is no mean feat. Stop being mean about Stoke.

  • Comment number 36.

    @25 He recalled Danny Pugh and has been using him as a sub recently for Wilson, as Pugh is a better player than Danny Collins at left back. Plus now that Danny Higginbotham is injured Stoke need cover for Wilson.

    Pulis will have recalled them both as a favour to Sir Alex Ferguson. Who has given Tony advice time and again.

    @10 "hoodoo"? Stoke are a well run club, as we have no debts thanks to Peter Coates and his family. Portsmouth were relegated because they payed there players too much and weren't well run, they had big name players costing them money they weren't generating to pay them.

    As for long ball "hoof-ball", we've scored over half of our goals from open play this season. We have two excellent wingers, and in the semi against Bolton we got 5 from open play. Obviously a "bad" advert for PL.

  • Comment number 37.

    Graham Taylor's analysis is spot on. No doubt about that.

  • Comment number 38.

    since when did we take any notice of graham taylor the man who brought rugby into the world of football with his watford rubbish.

  • Comment number 39.


    Stevie Gerrard is famed for attempting his "hollywood" 40yard passes which are about the same distance as a Stoke City "hoof". Please explain the difference, is it the height? To be fair, Gerrard does seem to keep a fairly low trajectory when he clouts it.

  • Comment number 40.

    to those who say stoke are a dirty team, get your facts right. At the moment, Manchester City are the most ill-disciplined side in the premier league this season, with 73 yellows and 5 reds. Arsenal are the 2nd worst with 66 yellows and 6 reds, stoke are the 9th worst, so an averagely dirty side, with 65 yellows and 2 reds. So they are clearly not an especially dirty side, unlike man city or arsenal perhaps.

    Pulis is a great manager of a great club, with the loudest fans in the league. When people criticise them, it spurs them on to perform better. I hope Huth and Etherington are fit this weekend, if so, Man City beware.

  • Comment number 41.

    I can't believe any fan of little City would have the gall to criticise Stoke's style of play given the dross served up by Mancini for most of the season.

    Just a reminder for Wembley lads, the seats are red so you'll need to change out of the empty blue seat costumes you were wearing on Tuesday.

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    40. At 09:16am 12th May 2011, oggyoggy wrote:


    the fair leauge table to which you are referring is seriously flawed! it only reflects on those, seen/caught and thus punished as seen fit by many of the dubious officials we have in the PL.

    for starters;

    manchester united should have had at least Four more straight reds!

    so your figures mean utter tosh!

  • Comment number 44.

    Nice to see some decent comments on Stoke City and Pulis rather than the lazy journalism usually spouted.

    If Etherington makes the final Man City will have problems as Stokes wingers are as good as anything in the premier league.

    Now most negatives on the comments seem to be coming from liverpool fans,the same Liverpool who were took apart at stoke whilst they looked championship fodder for half the season.

    Keep sniping and looking down your nose at Stoke ,we love it,we thrive on it.

    And every season we improve,Stoke City are here to stay.

  • Comment number 45.

    Full marks to Tony Pulis for his skills as a coach and for his demeanour as a man. To be a Stoke fan at the moment must be thrilling. It's a brilliant success story under Pulis guidance. You can see the But coming .. for all I recognise the achievements and all the good things about the way they go about their business, would I pay to watch Stoke? Not a chance. It's plug ugly football.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree some of the best games I have seen recently have been watching Stoke, although some of the worst have too. And that is intended as a compliment, sometimes Stoke don't get the credit for working hard and preventing 'better' teams playing their style football.

  • Comment number 47.

    not really, you could argue that certain teams deserve more points (refs missing crouch and cattermole handballing the balls off the line in spurs v stoke and sunderland v stoke this season) and so the league table is tosh and we should all ignore it!!!!

    The disciplinary table outlines how many reds and yellows have been given this season, people accuse stoke of being dirty, this is incredably strong evidence to the contrary, when compared to arsenal and man city.

    Against arsenal, stoke committed their first foul in the 42nd minute, we had already scored twice by then.

  • Comment number 48.

    38. HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Your comment betrays that you know nothing about football.

  • Comment number 49.

    Well Done Tony! Very Underrated but Maybe thats what keeps him going!
    Well Done Stoke! Very Underrated but Maybe thats what keeps them going!

    Wish you all the best on Saturday!

  • Comment number 50.

    Fair play to me Chelsea above... Appreciate it.
    Stoke City play football with a passion that's echoed in the manager, the chairman and the fans. Why do you think Stoke have the loudest fans in the league? On Saturday you will know when its the Stoke fans singing. That's no disrespect to Man Coty fans, they're one of the most passionate I've seen, but easily the loudest are Stoke.
    Our players may not play tippy-tap football but why would we? We don't have the top class footballers that Arsenal, Chelsea, Barca have. But we do have incredibly fit players, who will chase everything down all game. We have players who can run with the ball in etherington and pennant, and shawcross and huth is one of the best centre back pairings in the league. Our players are fine being the underdogs, because we don't have pressure on us. And that's why we stand an equal chance against the more talented Man City. Come on Stoke!

  • Comment number 51.

    Slowly some of the pundits are realising that there is more to this team than the long throw. It helps that they are playing Abu Dhabi this weekend, I'm sure than a lot of the neutrals will be wanting them to show their richer rivals the way home.

    TP should be manager of the season. (I'm a United fan btw)

  • Comment number 52.

    47. At 09:32am 12th May 2011, oggyoggy wrote:

    we obviously live in two different worlds.

    next you will be telling me the crime/unemployment figures/tables are correct?
    and that the National Lottery really is game of chance.

    and yes the table is merely a " guide " to who's been caught and punished for what

    so yes i pay no attention to it at all, very much the same when Pullis opens his mouth or Graham Taylor.

    and if we are to debate an individual whos " demeanour " is spot on we need look no further than Mr Holloway and his team Blackpool, now there is a guy and outfit worthy of considerable praise!

  • Comment number 53.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 54.

    Greece, early 70's. An English coach who played for Liverpool and managed Bury, Blackpool and Huddersfield took over as manager in a Greek team, PAOK Salonica. His name was Les Shannon.

    He introduced the long-ball game to Greece. That PAOK team had - in relevant analogies - a very talented group of young players, good on the ball and able to play fast. He introduced two wingers, using the full length of the pitch, he used the long ball game, so that his team could create chances in seconds, coming from defence. He went on to win 2 cups and make credible challenges for the title, against the Athens establishment of football in Greece.

    With Shannon, PAOK were runners-up in the Greek championship race in 1973 and quarter-finalists in the European Cup-Winners' Cup, going out to AC Milan. He's still remembered in Greece as some kind of football god if the expression is allowed.

    When people talk about long ball game, I always remember him. And I remember that long-ball game can be an art:
    - if you have players who can give a long pass, accurately and with perfect weight on the ball
    - if you have a center forward with excellent ball skills and talented in keeping the ball until supports comes
    - if you have fast wingers who can use a long ball to create havoc in the opposite box.

    Normally, people who don't like long-ball football are people who prefer possession football, as long-ball football tends to kill off midfield activity at times. Also long ball football is very bad for teams with slow to react players who can suffer in quick counter attacks.

    Is long ball football bad for football or is it an art that requires a team consisting of talented players, well capable on the attributes of the approach?

  • Comment number 55.

    I wish Stoke luck in the FA Cup final, their players, fans and Tony Pulis deserve to finally win something big for the club. I hope Tony sticks to his guns on the way the team plays and as long as Stoke has stability then they will stay in the Prem.

  • Comment number 56.

    25. At 08:20am 12th May 2011, Carlth wrote:

    If Tony Pulis is such a "top bloke" why did he recall Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh from their loan spells at Preston, simply because Preston sacked underperforming manager Darren Ferguson? It was petty for Ferguson senior to withdraw United's loanees, but for Pulis to follow suit was truly pathetic.


    because there loans ended on December 31st, the timing was coincedence but that didnt stop the press making a story out of it

  • Comment number 57.

    "14. At 07:04am 12th May 2011, ctid74 wrote:
    Makes me laugh how everyone thinks Man City are bad for football and all of a sudden everyone wants Stoke the Joke to beat us on Saturday..What will be will be but Stoke are "BAD" for football along with Blackburn. I'd rather a Leeds or West ham anyday..true footballing clubs...Long ball teams have no place for me in football.

    Come on City-Lets do this Saturday...Top 4 complete,now for the Cup!!

    You can just smell the fear...LOL-So funny how everyone thinks City have bought Success...You haven't seen the half of it.."


    Is it just me or do muppets like this prove Citeh are turning into the new Chelsea already? No class at all, baked up by little history and pedigree. And then they'll wonder out loud why nobody likes them.....

  • Comment number 58.

    Phil, many of us have been giving Pulis credit for a long time. Even if you don't like their style, you have to give Pulis credit for results - and for the consistency of those results. He keeps tinkering with his team, and keeps developing the way that they play - the integration of Pennant and Etherington in particular has been impressive.

    I suspect their 'unfashionability' has something to do with the perennial focus of the media on London and the North West......

  • Comment number 59.


    By an odd twist of fate, in my Southampton top on St Marys on Saturday, I was sat directly behind Lord Triesman, who turned around and offered me a Knighthood....... Which was nice

  • Comment number 60.

    Just testing whether I can post a comment - for long enough I've had no joy on the BBC website.

  • Comment number 61.

    54. At 09:49am 12th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:


    i dislike long/hoofball as its dangerous when you consider that football players, unlike those in rugby cannot deal with such a ball with thier hands/arms which of course rugby players can.

    a ball thumped 50 yards into no mans land boucing about etc etc leads inevitably to dangerous play, hoping for a rebound? or ricoche would not be my idea of football and whilst i agree a team will play to its strengths there is no need to go overboard and praise such tactics.

    i would say that the long ball is about as boring and tedious to watch as the Liverpool teams of old who spent most of the match back passing the ball to the keeper, thank heavens that was sort of outlawed. i would like to see an extension to the passing back to the keeper which is the keeper is not allowed to venture out of his/her areaand that would include taking free kicks.

  • Comment number 62.

    At 52. HAHA CharadeYouAre.

    Clearly we do live in different worlds! Yours based on paranoia and conspiracy, mine based on reason and fact.

    Stoke may not pass the ball 10000 times before shooting like some teams, but we are exciting to watch because of how direct and attacking we are with the ball. We score lots of goals at home and attack teams. Away, we set out to avoid losing, something man city do home and away regardless of opposition.

    Despite the 1.25 billion supposedly invested by abu dhabi into everything man city, we are more entertaining, more attacking and FAR FAR FAR more passionate and dedicated to the cause. On paper, man city should win by a cricket score on saturday, especially with our 2 best player highly doubtful, in reality however, things may be quite different.

    Stoke players play football for the love of the game, man city players play for money. Passion and heart are great levellers - see birmingham v arsenal, carling cup final 2011.

  • Comment number 63.

    good to see some recognition at last, especially from people like Graham Taylor who command respect in football. If gutter journalists like Mick Dennis, over weight pub players such as Mick Quinn and the football manager playing armchair gloryhunters like the Liverpool 'fan' on here do not like Stoke who cares?

  • Comment number 64.

    62. At 10:03am 12th May 2011, oggyoggy wrote:


    as the saying goes " you cant educate pork "

    next thing you will tell me is that because i dont like gays im homophobic? or that because i have no time for immigrants im racist.

  • Comment number 65.

    Stoke are not the most boring to watch in the prem - that accolade would go to Man city. But you still wouldn't want to pay a season ticket, to watch Rory throw the ball in the box and get a nod on it - as entertainment, would you? Stoke's style of play is a throwback to the 80's, and looking to the future they would be better served to try and play the game on the ground, as that style of football never got a team anywhere.

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 61, HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    I also dislike it when football managers of professional Premiership clubs send out on matches teams consisting of kids, for whatever economy requirements for their clubs, demanding them to play the physical game against sides playing it as part of their trade and with players who are well into adulthood, but I don't make it an issue.

    Are 50yard balls dangerous?

  • Comment number 67.

    You have to give it to Stoke. To be in the situation they are in is a fantastic achievement. Always remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Why make 15passes to achieve something that can be completed in one pass?

    Sure some people will have complaints over the style that Stoke play however its an effective style for Stoke and Stoke have been getting results with how they play. Why change to a style which will possibly cost them success and the riches that success brings?

  • Comment number 68.

    Stoke City will always be a favourite of mine after putting paid to the Liverpool title challenge in 09. Its no surprise that Taylor is defending long ball tactics as he received the same flak for the same tactics! For me, its just another tactic that sides need to find a way of combating. If they can't, like Arsenal, they fail. Simple.

    The other thing I'd like to say is that Stoke support is fantastic, win, lose or draw. For that reason alone I hope they do well.

    As for the final, obviously city rivalry dictates that I want Stoke to win handsomely but I'm not jealous of City's riches. Like ctid mentioned earlier, the owners have pumped money into the city so they have been good for the local economy. And that is something more important than football rivalry. This is something I could not say about our owners.

  • Comment number 69.

    "64. At 10:10am 12th May 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    62. At 10:03am 12th May 2011, oggyoggy wrote:


    as the saying goes " you cant educate pork "

    next thing you will tell me is that because i dont like gays im homophobic"

    Don't worry I'm sure they like you;)

  • Comment number 70.

    " Despite the 1.25 billion supposedly invested by abu dhabi into everything man city, we are more entertaining, more attacking and FAR FAR FAR more passionate and dedicated to the cause. "

    and you call me paraniod?

    City over the years have played some great football before the Arabs came in and gave them a chance to get a top spot, you sound like a real product of the North/South divide.

    and as for " we are more entertaining " whats that brand of Evening Primrose Oil you smoke?

    would i pay to watch Stoke play Football? NO would i pay to watch Manchester City? a resounding YES

  • Comment number 71.

    Playing with two out-and-out wingers feeding big, strong centre-forwards: even as Man City supporter I certainly wouldn't call that playing a long ball game. Pulis has produced a balanced, combative team who no Blues' fans I know think will be anything other than formidable opposition on Saturday. Personally, I'm just about to order a new sofa, 'cos by 5.00 o'clock Saturday I will have chewed through the current one.

  • Comment number 72.

    oh i should of added;

    will i watch the FA Cup Final? Answer = NO

    Reason= Stoke City are in it.

    good luck to City and in particular Carlos! hope he plays a blinder.

  • Comment number 73.

    #70 Come on Charade what's more entertaining than seeing the gooners get fleeced 3-1 having dominated the early possession!

  • Comment number 74.

    I understand Arsenal fans hating long-ball football, under the guidance of their manager. Completely!

    Long ball football is the perfect approach to bypass midfield and tipi tapi sides play their tipi tapi mainly in midfield.

    I don't know why Mr HaHa believes that a long ball ends up bouncing on the pitch - perhaps his team failed playing it with players who can actually play long balls. Long ball football requires a player who can send a long ball and a player who can receive a long ball. Then, the ball bounces nowhere.

    I will not question whether Mr Walcott impressed at Camp Nou by receiving some alleged long balls and using the space, because it could attribute to long ball game and Mr Wenger is religiously against it.

    Are there football fans out there who have nightmares in their sleep with long balls going after them?

  • Comment number 75.

    Why are long throws as good as cheating, but good free kicks done by masters of football and good corner routines signs of good tactics?

    Squad of Stoke is improving and with better players they play better football.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 75, Rob,

    I suppose for the same reasons that football club owners with loads of money are bad for football. And for the same reasons that wealthy people in neighbourhoods are bad for neighbours. And goes on and on and on.

  • Comment number 77.

    I personally hope Stoke win on Saturday, mainly because opportunities like this don't come around very often for teams like them (no dispespect). The money gap is just too big now.
    City's owners are going to spend,spend,spend until the rule the world so they will have plenty of opporunities in the future - and for bigger prizes too.
    I would really like to hear Sheikh Mansours motivations behind the City 'project'. Is it just one big ego trip? Because the success they will enjoy in the next few years will mean more to their long suffering fans than someone from 1000s of miles away who probably never heard of the club a few years ago.
    And when they win the Champions League again and again, what will be his motivation to continue? Is it purely an ego thing? Or does he just want to knock Man United "off their ******** perch???"
    I suppose when you have all the money in the world you need to find something else to motivate you and to show off to other billionaires - and I guess a PL football team is a pretty impressive toy to show off!!

  • Comment number 78.

    73. At 10:26am 12th May 2011, United Dreamer wrote:


    i commented before i have no sour grapes at all about our 3-1 loss the better team on that day won!


    however i did note with some discomfort Pullis's remarks when asked about AW giving Stoke credit! aong the lines of " he could say nothing else "

  • Comment number 79.

    Proud Stoke fan and season ticket holder who doesn't give a damn what anyone else thinks about my team.

    People seem to believe everything they read - "dirty team" - "long ball" - blah blah blah. Wake up and smell the coffee - FA Cup Finalists and 8th in the Premier League says it all.

    Pulis has explained it will take time to build a team and improve - well three years in and so far so good. If you can combine hard work with good players and strong management you won't go far wrong - it that a crime against Football?

    I will be there on Saturday and 0.5 billion people will see the Mighty Potters in their glory - win or lose. We're Stoke City - We'll play how we want.

  • Comment number 80.

    I have heard some tripe on here over the years but the plonker who said that "i dislike long/hoofball as its dangerous" really takes the biscuit. What is more dangerous is Wilshire's wild lunges which are becoming more frequent in his game. The Stoke style of play is as dangerous as jumping off a dolls house. They play to their strengths. They haven't got millions of pounds to throw an Nancy Boys after a big pay day. I don't really mind who wins on Saturday as long as it is a goal fest.

  • Comment number 81.

    People who are claiming Stoke are 'bad for football' and hope 'Man City hammer them on Saturday' are so wide of the mark it's untrue!!

    Whether or not you find Stoke a poor team to watch please don't ever place Man City as the team to 'put them in their place'.

    Easily the most dire, boring, Italian style football i have ever seen in my life. I mean who spends £350m to play for a draw at home against the big teams and nick an early goal and defend for 80mins against the other teams.

    I am a fan of how Stoke play, who decides what is the 'right' way to play?? But my main point is how can people want Man City to beat them with the way they actually approach each football match!!!

  • Comment number 82.


    Whilst I appreciate any and all blogs on Stoke, and other clubs perceived as less glamorous as the Top 4, I still take slight umbrage at this 'long-ball' stuff.

    Stoke, clearly, are not synonymous with the tika taka ethos. However, I think people fail to note our progression from when we were promoted, to now. The year we came up, I believe Pulis did everything possible to keep us in the league, and to some extent, the same was true last year also.

    This year however, we've played some really good football, and the talk of this long-ball nonsense is starting to wind me up. Pennant and Etherington are as good a set of wingers in the league. They're both potent attackers, deliver great crosses, get goals and represent a legitimate threat. We don't play any long ball to either of them. Kenwyne Jones scoring from a Pennant cross, in my eyes is really no different than the myriad headed goals Wayne Rooney scored from superlative Antonio Valencia service, last year.

    To name but a few games - we stuck 5 past Bolton in the semi-final, all good goals, then we lost 3-2 to Spurs, again 2 good goals from open play. Following this, a 3-0 defeat of Wolves, at least 2 of those goals were from open play, and this week we beat Arsenal, where to be fair at least 2 of the goals were fortuitous, but can -someone please acknowledge that we beat Arsenal, and what a big deal that is!? Their failings at defending the set piece would be targeted by all clubs, the fact that we exposed them shouldn't lead to us being chastised as a long-ball team, or overly physical, to my mind, Wenger just hasn't dealt with defensive frailty - that's his problem.

    Anyway, the point of all of this is, despite me being pleased at their being a blog on Stoke, I really wish it wasn't predicated around the long-ball/physicality discussion. I don't think that's a) fair or b) entirely accurate, and I continue to believe that by and large, Stoke get an unduly fair press.

    Regardless, thanks for writing the piece, and I agree with GT that Pulis deserves huge credit.

  • Comment number 83.

    @44 that guy, unless he has done posts in other sections I haven't seen, isn't clearly a Liverpool or Everton fan, he just has Liverpool in his name, which could be city or club. If he is an LFC fan then don't judge us on people like him. All bar one of my LFC-supporting friends enjoy watching Stoke and want them to beat City. As a huge supporter of them myself I also half support Stoke. Their style of play has evolved from the "long ball/throw" they used in the first season to include expansive play and some genuinely great football. They are the second result I always look for each week and I've even been to see them a few times this season. (like the Arsenal game) due to my girlfriend supporting them. I, for one, can't wait to see how they cope in the Europa League next season, especially with some big sides going to be in it. Good luck to them on Saturday.

  • Comment number 84.

    #78 Fair play. To be honest I ignore manager's post match comments except for any unwitting comedic entertainment. Benitez provided that a couple of years back. They normally whinge about something.

    #77 tmallows - I imagine Mansour has a long term business aim to gain success at the expense of United grabbing their fans in the process. I'm presuming they expect the success to be there if the investment is right. They may even be targeting the collapse of United and let the debts make it impossible to recover, while exploiting the vacuum. I think this will fail while Ferguson is still there. When he leaves, who knows?

    For the moment I'm happy for them to be pumping money into the economy.

  • Comment number 85.

    There is a discernible difference between between the long ball and the long pass. All savvy football fans know that Graham Taylor is being disingenuous when he says otherwise.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 77, HAHA CharadeYouAre,

    Yes, you're right. You did say that the better team on the day won at Britannia.

    You didn't comment on 2 issues though:
    a) the Wilshere sliding on a Stoke player with both studs on, ending up in some mele of Stoke players angry with the Wilshere "tackle" and Arsenal players supporting it.
    b) the Song fall over Huth, having 'taken' his angle first, with elbow on his face, as he fell with full body supporting the elbow on Huth's face.

    And since you forgot to mention them, Mr HaHaCharadeYouAre, what's your view?

  • Comment number 88.

    74. At 10:27am 12th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    I am somewhat surprised at you

    if you actually read my 1st comment regarding anything connected with a " long ball " you will see it was directed at watford! who many years ago brought it in as fashion which was then handed down to the English National team, under Taylor remmember " turnip head " and look where that got us:):):)

    I dont care about Stokes long balls or other balls

    I have, and still am, very critical of the wipeing of the ball which i see as nothing more than a time wasteing excersise, which should be looked into!

    and lastly Pullis is about as popular to me as Tango Man Phil Brown was.

  • Comment number 89.

    What very few people have noticed is that Pulis has a score to settle with Man City, at Wembley.

    I wouldn't be surprised if a part pf Pulis still remembers, with hurt, that fateful day in 1999 when his Gillingham side gained a 2-0 lead in the dying minutes of their Divison 2 Play-off Final with Man City... only to be pegged back to 2-2 by Paul Dickov in the 95th minute, before losing on penalties.

    First and foremost, Tony will be desperate to win the FA Cup for Stoke City on Saturday... but he will also be dying to make amends for that day of heartbreak in 1999!

  • Comment number 90.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre - so your an arsenal fan!!

    Quick, Arsene Wenger has ordered everyone to jump off a bridge, you better go and blindly follow your mesiah, he can't be wrong!!!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    86 What a rant!! When you are working on your chain gangs in Europe how have any of your chums been able to watch TV.

    Next time I drive past you on my way to see Stoke in the sunny South of France I'll give you a wave - hope the chains don't rub too much - NOT!

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    super ideas

  • Comment number 94.

    86 - wal-sol
    enlighten me about all these serious injuries please?? Shawcross and Ramsey of course, shawcross mistimed a one footed tackle from the front and a horrendous injury occurs, as could happen with any mistimed challenge.

    Wilshere's tackle at the weekend was more deliberate and more aggressive, just luckily nobody was hurt.

    But where is the evidence of all these other serious injuries and broken legs you speak of?!!?

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    yes wal-sol, all stoke fans are fat and jobless......bitter are we? Jealous perhaps? If we win the cup on saturday, we will be a more successful club than arsenal over the last 6 amusing

  • Comment number 98.

    87. At 10:47am 12th May 2011, Football_UK wrote:


    i dont pass comments on things i did not see, as i did not watch the game nor the highlights i think thats a sensible option

    or perhaps im being paranoid but i would need see for my own eyes the tackles to which you are refferring to.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    97 - who ever said i was an arsenal fan?! their not the only club to hate you!


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