Pulis relishing Holloway meeting

04 January 2013 01:28
Tony Pulis will face one of his oldest friends in football when Stoke travel to Crystal Palace in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Pulis and Palace boss Ian Holloway have known each other for almost 30 years since their youth days at Bristol Rovers and Holloway is godfather to Pulis' son Anthony.

"I've known Ian since he was 12 years old," said the Stoke boss.

"His mum and dad were lovely people and we knew their family really well. They're typical Bristolians really, and it's lovely to see him do so well.

"He's done fantastic, not just as a manager but his playing career was fabulous, especially the back end of it when he was playing for QPR in the Premier League."

The pair were in opposite dugouts twice in the 2010/11 season when Blackpool, who Holloway managed until joining Palace in November, spent a year in the Barclays Premier League. Holloway had the upper hand on those occasions, with Blackpool picking up four points and Stoke one, and he could well return to the top flight in August. Palace sit third in the Championship table, two points adrift of the automatic promotion places, but Pulis was keen to praise the work done by former manager Dougie Freedman. He said:

"I think Ian will be the first one to say this, you've got to give the previous manager a lot of credit for putting the team together.

"Ian's gone in there and I think the majority of it has been the same, Ian's just kept it going. But if they get promoted, it'll be a fantastic achievement for Ian."

Pulis will make changes to his side for their fifth match in two weeks, which could include starts for the likes of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and former England striker Michael Owen. Midfielder Steven Nzonzi is available after the red card he received in last weekend's 3-3 draw with Southampton was rescinded while full-back Marc Wilson is close to returning from a broken leg, although this match will come too soon. Stoke have performed extremely well in the FA Cup over the last three seasons, with two quarter-final appearances and a run to the final in 2010/11, where they lost to Manchester City but qualified for the Europa League. Pulis is looking for a return to winning ways after seeing their 10-match unbeaten run ended with a 3-0 defeat by Manchester City on Tuesday. He said: "We've played four tough games in 12 days. When you look at the games - Tottenham away, Liverpool and then Man City at the back end of it, and we played against Southampton with 10 men for nearly 25 minutes - it's been a really hard Christmas for us.

"We've got five points out of it so we're pleased with our return. We were disappointed with the performance against Man City but they're a great club and they played really well.

"We have to take it on the chin and get on with it, get the run going again and hopefully get some more results.

"I'll certainly change one or two because I think one or two need a rest but we'll show Palace the utmost respect because I've got respect for Ian and also Crystal Palace.

"It's a great football club. If they get back in the Premier League, they'll be filling that place week in, week out.

"We know how difficult it will be. Out of all the draws you could get, when it came out we looked at it and thought it was going to be a really difficult game, and it will be because they're flying in the Championship.

"They'll be full of confidence, they're scoring goals for fun. The Premier League is the main priority without a question of a doubt but we want to do well. We've proved that we do take the FA Cup seriously."

Pulis is also hoping Stoke's defence can return to its miserly ways after shipping six goals in the last two games. The Potters had conceded only 14 in 19 previous Premier League matches, and Pulis said:

"We're disappointed, they're poor goals to concede, but that's football.

"We were on a great run and this is the way it goes, you have good times and bad times, and you have to handle it.

"The players are disappointed obviously but one defeat in 11 games is not bad. They've done really well, the lads have been first class. Fingers crossed we can get a few clean sheets in the weeks to come."

Source: team_talk