x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pulis backs the new boys in the league

Stoke were favourites for relegation following their promotion to the Premier League in 2008, but they have since become a team hard to beat and are playing in Europe this season.

Jonathan Walters, right, and Stoke City beat FC Thun 1-0 in Europe this week. They have been in the Premier League for three seasons.
Jonathan Walters, right, and Stoke City beat FC Thun 1-0 in Europe this week. They have been in the Premier League for three seasons.

Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, believes all three of the Premier League's newest members can make a positive impression in the top flight this season.

Having been favourites to go straight back down when they were promoted in 2008, Stoke have defied their critics to establish themselves in the Premier League, and they are often cited by managers as an example to follow.

Last season they finished 13th, their lowest final position during their three Premier League campaigns, but secured a place in Europe by reaching the FA Cup final.

Of this season's promoted sides, Paul Lambert's Norwich City, Stoke's opponents today, began their campaign in promising fashion with a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic. Although Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City were both beaten 4-0, Pulis believes they have what it takes to do well. Both QPR and Swansea got their first points of the season yesterday.

"We have had our way of doing things and we've stuck very rigidly to building up over three years, and they will learn as they go along," Pulis said. "I think the three clubs have got very good managers. You look at Paul Lambert, [QPR's Neil] Warnock and Brendan [Rodgers], and they have all done fantastic jobs in getting their teams promoted.

"It is a different challenge and a different set of rules. It is not a level playing field. You learn very quickly and you have to take things on board."

Lambert has challenged his side to build on their opening draw at Wigan today at Carrow Road.

"Stoke got to the FA Cup final and on into Europe, so that shows you the magnitude of the task we have got," he said. "But we are at home, and we have to try to win. We have to earn the right to play - and if you do not get hold of the ball, then we will be in trouble."

In today's other game, Wolverhampton Wanderers host Fulham in a rematch of a controversial encounter last season.

Bobby Zamora broke his leg in a challenge with Wolves midfielder Karl Henry in September, ruling the England international out for five months. Then Fulham captain Danny Murphy accused Mick McCarthy's side of being too "pumped up" a couple of weeks later, leading to back-and-forth comments between the two camps.

However, Martin Jol, Fulham's new manager, said he was unaware of any bad blood between the teams.

"I should be aware of it, but I am not aware of it," said the Dutchman, who was appointed as Fulham coach in the summer. "From what I've seen of Wolves, they are a strong, physical team.

"They are very difficult to beat away from home but, as some teams proved last year, you need a bit of luck, quality and players that can make the difference.