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Stoke exit disappoints Pulis

Tony Pulis has spoken of his disappointment at being sacked by Stoke City, but reluctantly accepts chairman Peter Coates' desire to take the club in a new direction.

The League Managers' Association (LMA) have confirmed that Tony Pulis left Stoke City on amicable terms, departing the club on Tuesday, following meetings with Coates and other members of the club's hierarchy.

Pulis had hoped he would be given the opportunity to lead Stoke into a sixth successive season in the Premier League and had been working on meetings with agents in a bid to bring new players to the Britannia Stadium this summer.

But he is now plotting his next career move, with the possibility of coaching in America or Europe, but insists there is no ill-feeling between him and the Coates family at the decision.

• Whittaker: Pulis' time was up

In a statement released through the LMA, Pulis said: "I have enjoyed some wonderful times at Stoke City and nobody was prouder than me when, after 23 years of exile from top-flight football we gained Barclays Premier League status.

"Over the past five years we have created history by being the only team in this club's 150 years existence to remain out of the bottom six in top-flight football for five consecutive seasons.

"Within our five-year period in the Barclays Premier League we have featured in four major cup quarter-finals, an FA Cup semi-final and final.

"Further, we have encountered, progressed and reached the later stages of a major European cup competition, only to lose out to Spanish giants Valencia.

"Peter, his family and I have enjoyed every inch of the journey; he has been truly a fantastic man to work with.

"Although I am disappointed I do understand what he means when he says the board feels a need to take the club in a different direction."

Coates, 75, has expressed his thanks for the work Pulis had done in returning the club to the top flight and establishing them in the Premier League.

"The last seven years have been some of the best in our long history and I would like to thank Tony for his huge contribution in this," he said in a statement. "I personally regard him as a great friend and will hugely miss working with him. We will now begin the difficult task of searching for a successor to Tony.

"This will be done in private and the club will make no further statement in respect of this search until an appointment is made."

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