Football: Pulis 'disappointed' by Stoke departure

LONDON, May 22, 2013 (AFP) - Tony Pulis said on Wednesday that he was "disappointed" after leaving his post as Stoke City manager, but that he understood chairman Peter Coates' reasons for wanting to take the club in a different direction.

Pulis, 55, left Stoke by mutual consent late on Tuesday after two spells in charge totalling 10 years, either side of a one-season stint with Plymouth Argyle in 2005 to 2006.

Despite occasional criticism for the physical approach adopted by his side, Pulis turned Stoke into a solid mid-table team following their promotion from the Championship in 2008.

However, he accepted Coates' desire to bring in a new manager.

"I have enjoyed some wonderful times at Stoke City and nobody was prouder than me when, after 23 years of exile from top-flight football we gained Premier League status," Pulis said in a statement released by the League Managers' Association.

"Over the past five years we have created history by being the only team in this club's 150 years' existence to remain out of the bottom six in top-flight football for five consecutive seasons.

"Within our five-year period in the Premier League, we have featured in four major cup quarter-finals, an FA Cup semi-final and final.

"Further, we have encountered, progressed and reached the later stages of a major European cup competition, only to lose out to Spanish giants Valencia (in the 2011-12 Europa League).

"Peter, his family and I have enjoyed every inch of the journey; he has been truly a fantastic man to work with.

"Although I am disappointed, I do understand what he means when he says the board feels a need to take the club in a different direction."

Pulis said he was leaving the club in a much more healthy position than when he arrived in 2006 and added that he was "very proud of what we have all achieved".

He also thanked his backroom staff, describing them as "absolutely wonderful", and gave thanks to the club's fans and players for what he called a "wonderful adventure".

Coates paid tribute to Pulis, saying: "The last seven years have been some of the best in our long history and I would like to thank Tony for his huge contribution in this.

"I personally regard him as a great friend and will hugely miss working with him."

He added: "We will now begin the difficult task of searching for a successor to Tony. This will be done in private and the club will make no further statement in respect of this search until an appointment is made."