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Pulis thanks Stoke fans for 'journey'

Tony Pulis insists he remains proud of the transformation he has achieved as Stoke City manager and will not let his sudden departure from the Britannia Stadium sour his ten-year association with the club.

• Whittaker: Time to go, Pulis

Pulis has taken a leaf out of the book of former Man City manager Roberto Mancini's book by thanking supporters for the backing he has received in an open letter in the Stoke Sentinel.

He even managed to find time for a joke by claiming he could not afford the same kind of full-page advert the former Manchester City manager took out in the Manchester Evening News following his departure.

Pulis, whose relationship with fans deteriorated in a difficult second half of the season, will now take some time to decide his next career move, with the possibility of coaching in America on the agenda, but he has made it clear he leaves Stoke with no regrets, following the decision of chairman Peter Coates to bring an end to his managerial stint at the club he guided to promotion to the Premier League in 2008.

"I'd like to start by thanking every single one of you who have made the last decade so special for me at Stoke City," Pulis said.

"I am grateful for this opportunity here to express my gratitude because, unlike Roberto Mancini in his local paper last week, I can't afford to take out a full-page advert.

"We have all been on one hell of a journey, one that will live with me and my family forever. It doesn't seem five minutes ago since I first went up to the Potteries for a 4-2 defeat at Walsall.

"In those days I think we had two sets of goals on the training ground and, if it ever rained, we were running round in puddles.

"On a matchday, meantime, you could see more empty seats than occupied seats. But when I first arrived, I remember saying this was a proper football club with so much potential to do a lot better.

"I feel proud of the fact that I leave a club I found near the bottom of the Championship near the midway point of the Premier League."

Pulis is adamant that his relationship with Coates will remain as strong as ever, adding: "Despite the events of the last couple of days, my relationship with him remains, and I feel privileged to say that I can always call him a friend.

"It took a lot of faith and courage for him to return as chairman in 2006 – and then to bring me back as manager. I hope I have rewarded that faith and courage.

"I will never forget the effort and the later celebrations as we won promotion back to the top division for the first time in 23 years.

"A generation of Stoke fans had never seen their club play the best teams in the land week-in, week-out, so I can't tell you what it meant to be manager the day we did that."

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