Pulis: Trotters haven't changed

16 April 2010 01:52
Stoke boss Tony Pulis claims Bolton still play the way they did under Gary Megson, but Owen Coyle's appointment has changed the fans' attitude.

Wanderers - who travel to the Britannia Stadium tomorrow - slipped into the Premier League relegation zone earlier this season with Megson at the helm but after replacing him with Coyle in January, they have managed to claw their way out of the bottom three.

The team are now five points above the drop zone with four games left to play, but in Pulis' opinion the major transformation has come about in the stands rather than on the pitch, where the Bolton faithful have thrown their weight behind Coyle having previously turned on Megson.

"I don't see a lot of difference in the way the team is playing," Pulis said.

"The big difference is the supporters. They seem to have universally accepted Owen, where unfortunately there was a group that didn't with Gary.

"But I don't see any difference in the team or the way they are playing."

Bolton certainly posted a more creditable result against Chelsea this week than they did earlier in the campaign.

Having been thrashed 4-0 both away in the Carling Cup and then again at home in the league against the Blues under Megson in October, Wanderers went down 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night in a match Coyle felt they deserved to draw.

The Scot claimed match official Lee Probert should have awarded his side two penalties for apparent handballs in the area by Didier Drogba and John Terry, and after watching the game, Pulis waded into the debate by suggesting the league is "elitist" when it comes to referees' decisions.

"I think we play in a league that is almost a little bit elitist and there is that divide," Pulis said.

"I'm not saying that referees go out there to make those decisions, but people say it tends to even itself out over the season - having been in it (the Premier League) for two years, I'm not so sure it does.

"I would say that with the bigger teams, especially against the mid-table and lower teams, it certainly falls a bit heavier on their side than on our side. But that's only my experience."

Stoke, who currently lie 10th in the table, go into tomorrow's game knowing that a win will enable them to achieve their long-held aim of bettering last season's tally of 45 points, something Pulis feels it would be "fantastic" for the team to savour at the Britannia Stadium.

However, the manager has several injury concerns ahead of the match, with doubts surrounding the fitness of both Matthew Etherington and Ricardo Fuller.

Pulis is also unlikely to risk either Mamady Sidibe (groin) or Ryan Shawcross (ankle), who he is hoping can still make Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup but will not rush back to action.

Meanwhile, Pulis has confirmed new, longer-term deals should soon be in place for Etherington and club captain Abdoulaye Faye, who this week expressed his desire to finish his career with the Potters.

Pulis said: "It's ongoing (with Etherington), so that should be sorted out hopefully in the summer, although he's got two years left - it's not as if he's out of contract.

"Abby is the same. He has got a year left and hopefully they (new deals) will be closer during the summer."

Source: Team_Talk