Tony Pulis looks to draw line under feud with Mark Hughes

 

Stoke manager Tony Pulis is ready to knock back a drink or two with fellow Welshman Mark Hughes to finally draw a line under their feud.

The duo initially fell out in September 2010 when Hughes, then boss of Fulham, refused to shake Pulis' hand following a Carling Cup tie which Stoke won 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Hughes was aggrieved at what he saw as an "unnecessary" challenge from Andy Wilkinson on Mousa Dembele late in the game.

Three months later, Pulis spurned Hughes' offer of a handshake after Fulham won 2-0 in the league at the Britannia.

The two men did finally come to their senses in early 2011, when Fulham again defeated Stoke 2-0 in the return league clash at Craven Cottage.

At the end of last season Hughes, by now in charge of QPR, asked Pulis to stay for a drink, but given Rangers had beaten Stoke with a late winner in what was their final home game to aid their relegation cause, the latter thought better of it.

However, Pulis will have no qualms in extending an invitation to Hughes following tomorrow's league game at the Britannia.

"We had a little bit of a spat. It was two Celts having a spat and there's nothing wrong with that," Pulis said.

"There will be absolutely no problems tomorrow. I think Mark will be more concerned about getting QPR sorted out, and me the same with my team, than anything between us.

"But you have your moments in sport. We're both competitive people.

"He did invite me for a drink down at QPR last season, and he'll be invited up for a drink following tomorrow's game. That's the way it is."

Asked whether he took up the offer in May, Pulis added: "No I didn't because they got the points to help them stay up, and it was chaos there afterwards

"It was also in London, close to Bournemouth (where Pulis lives), so I shot off straight after the game."

On the face of it, tomorrow's game appears to have 'must win' stamped all over it given Stoke are 15th with just one win from their opening 10 matches and QPR are one place off the bottom of the table and still searching for their first win.

But at such an early stage in the season, Pulis is more concerned his side turn performances into results.

He added: "We need a break. Look at Norwich's goal (in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat) where the ball comes off the top of his (Bradley Johnson's) head and flies into the top corner. We need something like that.

"The disappointing thing is we've players who have goals in them. The one thing I didn't think we'd have a problem with this season is scoring goals.

"But things like this happen so you have to make sure everybody stays nice and calm, keeps the belief, keeps the faith."

While Stoke are hovering above the bottom three themselves, Pulis at least feels QPR and Hughes will avoid the drop this season.

"I don't think anybody would have said at the start of the season QPR would be down there with the players Mark has brought in," he added.

"But there is still a long way to go, a lot of games for them to pick up points.

"I'm saying now that I'll be very surprised if they are down there come the end of the season."

Pulis will be without winger Rory Delap, who faces a hernia operation next week, while striker Michael Owen is again sidelined with a hamstring problem.

PA

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