STOKE CITY Chairman Peter Coates hailed the "remarkable" achievements of Tony Pulis on the tenth anniversary of his initial arrival at the Britannia Stadium . . . and then expressed the hope that the success story can continue for years to come.
Mr Coates believes that Pulis' outstanding record over two spells with the Club and, in particular, his success achieved in recent times in the Premier League presents a strong argument for him being regarded as the best manager in City's 150-year history.
While the Chairman acknowledges the tremendous contributions of Bob McGrory and Tony Waddington in their long spells in charge of the Club, he is quick to point out: "Tony has been operating in a completely
different world to them.
"He has done a remarkable job to establish the Club in what is widely recognised as the most competitive League in the world, where the top teams and top players are world class. That is why I believe that he
qualifies to our best-ever manager.
"There was much more of a level playing field in the days of Bob McGrory and Tony Waddington because clubs weren't spending vast sums of money on players back then and attracting international stars from all
over the world to our game."
Mr Coates turned the clock back to the hugely-significant occasion when Pulis was first placed in charge at the Britannia Stadium on November 1st, 2002 and declared: "Nobody could ever have imagined then that
we would be in this position now.
"Tony did well for us the first time around because he steadied the ship when we were facing relegation and he achieved it on a very modest budget."
That was why Pulis' return to the Britannia Stadium in the summer of 2006 was such an important factor in Mr Coates taking control of the Club.
"There was a time when I thought we would never get into the Premier League, but all that started to change when Tony came back," he commented.
"He had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve at the Club and we have made incredible progress in a relatively short space of time."
He added: "We have made huge strides forward in terms of the development of the squad, whilst the stadium has been refurbished and we also now have excellent facilities at our Training Ground for both the first
team squad and the Academy.
"The challenge now is to keep moving forward when we know, of course, that every game we play at this level is a tough one. The important thing is that we have a solid base on which to build and, having
achieved so much in the 10 years since he first arrived at the Club, we hope that Tony will be with us for many more years to come."