Tony Pulis: Stoke City's former boss writes to fans in local paper
Former Stoke boss Tony Pulis has written a letter to Potters supporters in the local newspaper, reflecting on his time in charge of the club.
He comments on the poor facilities and "empty seats" when he arrived, and also urges fans to support his successor.
Pulis, 55, by mutual consent on Tuesday after seven years in charge in his second spell.
He joked he could not afford to take out a full page advert as ex-Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini had done.
"We have all been on one hell of a journey," the Welshman told the Stoke Sentinel.
"It doesn't seem five minutes ago since I first went up to the Potteries for a 4-2 defeat at Walsall.
"In those days I think we had two sets of goals on the training ground and, if it ever rained, we were running round in puddles.
"On a matchday, meantime, you could see more empty seats than occupied seats. But when I first arrived, I remember saying this was a proper football club with so much potential to do a lot better.
"I feel proud of the fact that I leave a club I found near the bottom of the Championship near the midway point of the Premier League."
Stoke, who finished last season 13th, never finished lower than 14th in five top-flight campaigns under Pulis.
They were beaten in the FA Cup final by Manchester City in 2011, a result that gained them entry into the following season's Europa League, where they were knocked out by Spanish side Valencia in the last 32.
"I will never forget the effort and the later celebrations as we won promotion back to the top division for the first time in 23 years," he continued.
"A generation of Stoke fans had never seen their club play the best teams in the land week-in, week-out, so I can't tell you what it meant to be manager the day we did that.
"Who can forget that first [Premier League] win against Aston Villa, not to mention the victories against a certain team from north London?"
That latter comment refers to Arsenal, with whom a feisty rivalry developed after Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey suffered a broken leg when tackled by Stoke's Ryan Shawcross in 2010.
Pulis added: "I'd like to think I put out a competitive team that represented your club with the kind of pride you yourselves had in Stoke City.
"And I'd like to think I brought in players who will remain some of your favourites for ever and a day."
Pulis, whose first spell at the club lasted three years, suffered some criticism from Stoke supporters towards the end of the season as the team struggled at the wrong end of the table.
Despite that reaction, he thanked the Britannia crowd for their support and urged them to get behind his successor.
He said: "And you, Stoke's City's wonderful support, have played such a massive part in the distance we have travelled over the last 10 years.
"That is how vital your support is. And that is why I urge you (for one last time) to get behind the new manager, just like you got behind the old one."