Crystal Palace’s big hearts give Pulis hope for run-in

Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis (left) and Sunderland's manager Gustavo Poyet on the touchline.
Stoke City's manager Tony Pulis (left) and Sunderland's manager Gustavo Poyet on the touchline.
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CRYSTAL Palace fans are clinging on to the fact that Tony Pulis has never been relegated, as tightly as to a lifebelt in a storm.

At the Stadium of Light on Saturday, they were all at sea – under the cosh for almost the whole match and offering nothing going forward.

By some distance the league’s lowest scorers, without injured leading marksman Marouane Chamakh, they barely featured as an attacking force.

And although the point taken on their travels gave them a moral victory, it’s difficult to imagine them not being in the final relegation shake-up this season.

They have yet to survive more than one full season in the Premier League – this is their fourth attempt – and their inability to score goals is hugely concerning.

But then there’s Pulis – a manager for 22 years without a single demotion to blot his record.

And having sparked a major upturn in the Eagles’ form since arriving in November, he is now trying to maintain composure in a run of patchy results.

With just seven points separating eight teams at the bottom, the former Stoke boss admitted: “It’s an incredible battle down there, as close as it has ever been in all probability, and it’s all about keeping your head.

“I know how quickly it can change for you down there – both for you and against you.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves and not let ourselves get too distracted by what everyone else is doing.”

What his players lack in quality they make up for in honesty and Pulis noted: “I was really pleased with the team against Sunderland – they’ve got big hearts, they are very tired and they’ve given all we can ask for.

“Every week my players give me everything and they needed to at the Stadium of Light.

“Sunderland’s supporters were really behind their team and shouted and screamed for every decision made and I thought my players did really well to withstand that.

“We weathered it and we might even have won it with possibly the best chance of the game late on.”

Pulis knows, though, that his squad’s inexperience at this level, coupled with their lack of a goal threat, is going to hamper them from now until the end of the campaign.

“The disappointing thing from the game is that we didn’t make as many chances as we would have liked,” he admitted.

“The positive is that Julian Speroni has only had to make two saves all game, so we restricted Sunderland really well.

“We’ve got half a dozen players who have never played at the Stadium of Light before and there’s a lot of clubs down at the bottom who have a lot more experience than us, but we’re matching them and that’s got to please us.”