Stoke City: I'm here to stay, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis has hit back at reports claiming he will consider his future in the summer because of results and the club's growing investment in the Academy.
The Stoke City manager said no-one should question his long-term commitment to the Potters after dedicating nine years of his life to the club.
Pulis also stressed his commitment to a youth policy – but did warn that football people have to be making football decisions.
And he denied planting the story in yesterday's national press to try to generate pressure on the club's owners.
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He said: "First and foremost, I wouldn't discuss anything about the club with anyone before speaking to the owners.
"If I have a problem with anything within the club, then I speak to them, nobody else.
"There is only the Coates family I deal with.
"I cannot affect what other people say or don't say around the football club and who they say it to."
On the question of the club's Academy, which is currently enjoying a £6m expansion, he added: "I have my own feelings on the Academy, but it is the most important thing the club has to achieve over the next five years.
"The whole set-up has been poor in lots of respects. The club realises that and is doing its damndest to correct that."
Pulis acknowledged his reputation for being anti-Academy, but stressed he had always remained in favour of youth development.
His opposition has been aimed at the old FA youth charter, which was abandoned because it was not producing enough quality players, and he remains sceptical about its modern-day replacement.
Pulis explained: "I spent the last week I had off in Spain and Germany, not only looking at their first-team set-ups, but at their Academy set-ups as well.
"Over the past six months I've written a report and given it to Peter and John Coates.
"To say I am not for the Academy is nonsense. I have reservations about the way it is run, yes, but every club has to have a vibrant and progressive youth policy.
"I brought Denis Smith and Alan Durban into our Academy to get people with a football background and a local knowledge involved."
Pulis also dismissed suggestions in yesterday's report that he was at loggerheads with the club's owners over investment in first-team affairs.
"On transfer fees and money spent on the first team," he stated, "nobody can question the Coates family on the amount of money they have invested in this football club.
"Anybody who says anything else is being disrespectful to a family that should be held in high esteem.
"As I have said before, my relationship with Peter is not just a football relationship, but a personal relationship as well. I class him as a friend."
STOKE'S televised home game against Manchester United on Sunday, April 14 has been shifted from a 1.30pm kick-off to 2.05pm.
The move is to accommodate live TV coverage earlier in the afternoon of the derby between Newcastle and Sunderland.
That game has been moved to the Sunday because of Newcastle's Europa League fixture three days earlier.
Stoke's game with Manchester United will be off altogether on that Sunday, however, if the Reds reach the FA Cup semi-finals that weekend by beating Chelsea in their quarter-final replay on April 1.
City striker Owen calls time on his glittering career: Page 46
Martin Smith column: Page 47