Tony Pulis sounded like a politician with an election looming when he spoke about "reclaiming a lost generation" from this former industrial heartland. He was talking about football fans rather than voters but, given the blue-collar nature of his team, the choice of words seemed fitting.
The Potteries was home once to football of a kind the former Stoke manager Tony Waddington called "the working man's ballet". Nowadays a player might sensibly wear tights against the Britannia Stadium's fierce winds but little else is likely to summon thoughts of Nijinsky or Nureyev. Nonetheless, Stoke's style is both effective and sustainable and for the pragmatic Pulis that is all that matters. Never mind what it looks like, observe the points tally. On Saturday, Stoke reached 42.
He says he wants to "take Stoke to another stage, to give people the dream" and for a moment there are thoughts of free rein for Matthew Etherington as a latter-day "wizard of the dribble" or of Tuncay Sanli given licence to be Pulis's Alan Hudson.
By the end of the sentence you have come back down to earth. "To give people the dream that you can compete with the top 10 clubs" is the Pulis vision of paradise and, given that they are 10th this morning, it does not seem much of an ambition. Never mind. The signs that the "lost generation" are coming back are beginning to show, apparently. "Wayne in our community programme tells me the nine, 10 and 11-year-olds say their favourites are now Stoke players, not Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool players like in the past," Pulis said.
A few might take to Ricardo Fuller, you imagine, and maybe Tuncay too if Pulis would trust him with a decent run in the side. The Turk came on at half-time on Saturday after Fuller, clattered in the act of scoring the first goal, failed to reappear. But he seemed distressed after his boot had accidentally knocked out George Boateng and fired wide with the goal at his mercy.
If Hull are to escape the bottom three they may need their manager, Iain Dowie, to become Pulis overnight. Hull played more attractive football but were punished for Paul McShane's mistake when Fuller scored after six minutes and conceded again to Liam Lawrence in the 90th without troubling Thomas Sorensen in between. "I've seen enough fight to believe we can do it," Dowie said.
Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen; Huth, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Collins; Lawrence, Delap, Whelan (Whitehead, 72), Etherington; Fuller (Sanli, 46), Kitson (Sidibe, 84). Substitutes not used: Begovic (gk), Pugh, Shawcross, Wilkinson.
Hull City (4-3-2-1): Myhill; Mendy, McShane, Mouyokolo, Kilbane; Bullard, Boateng, Marney (Geovanni, 58); Garcia (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 72), Fagan; Folan (Altidore, 64). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Dawson, Barmby, Olofinjana.
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire).
Booked: Stoke Sanli, Abdoulaye Faye, Kitson; Hull Mendy, Geovanni.
Man of the match: Higginbotham.
Hull's remaining fixtures: Sat Burnley (h), 17 Apr Birmingham (a), 21 Apr Aston Villa (h), 24 Apr Sunderland (h), 1 May Wigan (a), 9 May Liverpool (h).Reuse content