Stoke City v QPR: Pulis and Hughes 'just competitive Welshmen'
TONY Pulis says there will be a glass of wine waiting for Mark Hughes after today's game – even though the Stoke boss 'snubbed' a similar offer from his opposite number the last time they met.
The two Welshmen have had their differences in the recent past, but Pulis insists there was good reason why he failed to show for an after-match drink at Loftus Road last May.
QPR had just beaten Stoke in their final home game of the season to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.
But it wasn't sour grapes that left Pulis, left, declining a drink of squashed grapes.
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"There was chaos after the game and people everywhere because they needed the points to stay up," Pulis recalls.
"And London is close to Bournemouth, so I shot off to see my wife Deb."
No hard feelings there, then, but that hasn't always been the case in the recent past.
Their relationship first took a frosty turn for the worst two seasons ago when an Andy Wilkinson tackle left Fulham's Moussa Dembele in a heap late on in a League Cup tie.
Hughes, then Fulham boss, registered his displeasure by spurning the traditional after-match handshake by throwing out his hand and disdainfully slapping the one being offered by Pulis.
The Stoke boss, always a man with a long memory, responded by doing likewise when they next met later that same season.
Hands have been shaken since, however, and Pulis now says: "It's just two Celts having a bit of a spat, there's nothing wrong with that.
"There will be no problems (today). Mark will be more concerned about getting QPR sorted and I will be the same about us.
"You have your moments in sport.
"We are both competitive people and he will be invited up for a drink afterwards, like he invited me at QPR."
Hughes remains in the spotlight after guiding QPR to a mere four points from their first 10 games – and this after promising there would be no repeat of last season's desperate fight for survival.
But Pulis believes enough money has been spent on sufficient talent to ensure Rangers will finish above the bottom three spots by next May.
"I don't think anybody would have said QPR would have been down there with the players Mark has brought in, but there's a long way to go and a lot of games for them to pick up points," he said.
"I will be very surprised if they are down there come the end of the season."
Rangers were certainly indebted to Stoke for the six points they pocketed from them ahead of their final-day escape last season.
And Pulis adds a rather ominous note himself by revealing QPR have been something of bogey side during his 850-odd games in management over the last 20 years.
He said: "They've never been one of my favourite clubs, even when I've been at other clubs, so it would be nice to get one over on them."
Meanwhile, Pulis has revealed can always rely on an encouraging phone call from chairman Peter Coates after a disappointing defeat.
He said: "The chairman rang me this week and said this is the best we've played in the Premier League.
"In the modern game, one of the greatest things is to have somebody who understands the rigours of professional sport – and Peter understands that.
"It ebbs and it flows. You have good times and you have bad times.
"The important thing is that if you have good times you don't get too advanced of yourself; and in bad times that you don't get too down about things."