Pulis speaks up for 'nice guy' Megson

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Tony Pulis, the Stoke City manager, has jumped to the defence of Gary Megson, describing his Bolton Wanderers counterpart as a "quality guy". Megson has been criticised by some Bolton fans this season, but retains the backing of the board, who recently handed him a new rolling contract.

Pulis played a part in getting Megson the manager's position at Bolton, after tempting him back into the game with a coaching job at Stoke two years ago. He now wants Megson to buy the drinks after tonight's Premier League match between Stoke and Bolton.

Pulis joked: "Meggy didn't buy a drink the whole time he was here, but he should now have enough money to put his hand in his pocket. Seriously though, I've got a lot of respect for him. He's a genuine and honest lad and has a nice family. He is down to earth and has good values.

"Sometimes managers get pigeonholed because of how they come over in the media, but anyone who really knows him will tell you he's a quality guy. There are other managers who come over as nice when they are anything but, and that annoys me. It's all about perceptions and perceptions can be wrong a lot of the time."

Pulis is considering whether to reward Ricardo Fuller and Glenn Whelan with starting roles against Bolton after the pair came off the substitutes' bench to help to drag Stoke back into the match, which ended 2-2 after two late goals, at Villa Park at the weekend. "Ric and Glenn were tremendous and they've given me a nice problem," Pulis said.

"I was really pleased for them because their attitude has been first class. They aren't the type to sulk and I had no doubt they would be desperate to make an impact. Whether Glenn starts or not I don't know because Amdy Faye has been playing well, especially at home. Ric has made a miraculous recovery from a dislocated shoulder and I will also have to decide whether he is ready to start. I expect it to be a very tough game. Bolton are strong and well organised and it will be a battle."

Sunday's result has given Stoke something to build on, but Pulis was cautious about the suggestion that it will provide a springboard to safety. "It was a smashing result, particularly as we've been kicked in the proverbials a few times this season by conceding late goals," he said.

"We were in front at Chelsea with two minutes to go and got nothing, Middlesbrough did us early in the season, and Portsmouth equalised at our place in injury-time a couple of weeks ago. When Glenn scored, the reaction from everyone showed how much the players and the supporters care about staying in the Premier League. It was a great feeling."