TONY PULIS will be endeavouring to deflate some of the Welsh pride stirred up by a resurgence in the fortunes of clubs in his native country . . . as Stoke City look to get their Premier League season back on track at the Liberty Stadium.
The Welshman is delighted to see the four leading clubs doing well at different levels this season, but will put that to one side as he looks to complete a League double over Swansea City when the two sides meet on Saturday afternoon.
City come up against a Swansea side who have acquitted themselves well in the Premier League once again this season, despite the departure of Brendan Rodgers, and hope to seal their place in the Capital One Cup Final next week.
“As a Welshman, it’s wonderful to see the four clubs doing so well and it could turn out to be a fantastic season,” he commented.
“As well as Swansea’s success, it would be lovely to see Cardiff get into the Premier League, so that we have two Welsh clubs at that level. On top of that, Newport and Wrexham have a great chance of getting back into the League.
“First and foremost though, as manager of this Football Club, my focus is on us getting a result in this game, which we know will be very tough.”
He added: “Swansea have done absolutely fantastic this season. I think when Brendan Rodgers left, a lot of people thought they would implode.
“Michael Laudrup has done a fabulous job and really taken them to another level. The great thing for Swansea is that it is the fourth consecutive manager who has kept them moving forwards. You can go right back to when Kenny Jackett was there.
“People forget about the impact he made, but he really set the ball rolling and then Roberto Martinez and Brendan gave it more momentum.”
Pulis will be hoping that City’s decision to travel down to South Wales on Thursday evening will help them to achieve their aim at the Liberty Stadium.
“With all the bad weather that was forecast, we didn’t want the players spending six or seven hours travelling down on the Friday,” he explained.
“We’ve had a tough period in terms of matches, so there is a good deal of emphasis on rest and recuperation at the moment rather than intensive training, so hopefully the fact that we have made the early trip will work in our favour.”