Home > Sport > Football
Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 3:27:01 AM
Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 3:27:58 AM
by sam holden
LONDON (Reuters) - Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis said he was relieved to have secured their Premier league status before facing nightmare fixtures against title-chasing Manchester City and Liverpool.
Palace won 1-0 at West Ham United on Saturday thanks to a second-half Mile Jedinak penalty that moved them up to 11th in the table on 43 points, 13 clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining.
Palace host third-placed Manchester City on Sunday before leaders Liverpool visit Selhurst Park on May 5, with Pulis delighted that neither fixture can affect their top-flight status.
"I actually looked at the last few fixtures (when I arrived), and the last two games are an absolute nightmare," he joked. "I wouldn't like to be going into them needing points."
The Palace manager said the support of fans and the players' hard work was behind a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes.
When the Welsh coach was appointed to replace Ian Holloway in November, Palace were languishing in 20th place but he has overseen an extraordinary improvement at Selhurst Park, with his team winning their last five league games.
Their fans are now hailing Pulis as the manager of the year after he extended his proud record of never having been relegated as a manager in 22 years.
The modest coach, however, says their survival is down to the unity in the club since he took up the reins.
"The effort and commitment they put in today was wonderful," Pulis told a news conference.
"The people who are not in the team have been wonderful and the supporters have really been fabulous.
"Everyone has bought into how important they are as a group to help the players. They (the fans) have to take a lot of credit as well."
In his former job as manager of Stoke City, Pulis had a reputation for playing direct and physical football, but at Palace he has transformed a previously struggling team into an exciting, counter-attacking prospect.
Pulis is pleased that he is changing people's opinions of him after Palace's third consecutive away win came after an impressive 3-2 victory at Champions League chasing Everton on Wednesday.
"We've played some really, really good football," he said. "Today we could have scored three or four goals.
"This is a different team from what I had at Stoke, it's got different strengths. We've worked out the system that suits them.
"You have to be strong and you have to be resilient but we've got great pace on the break and the two wide players again today were outstanding.
"They've worked very hard on the training ground. They've stomached a lot of weeks without a day off but they've bought into it and it's got results."
Twelfth-placed West Ham slumped to their third consecutive loss and sixth in their last eight league games, prompting the home fans to voice their discontent after another dismal display.
Manager Sam Allardyce bore the brunt of the frustrations at Upton Park and cut a disconsolate figure on the touchline at the final whistle.
"We are under pressure because we haven't won in three games and we've got to put that right next Saturday at West Bromwich Albion," Allardyce told reporters.
"I always have sympathy (with the fans) because I'm as frustrated as they are and I don't want to see my team losing at home."
West Ham are seven points above the relegation zone on 37 points and can make certain of their Premier League status with a victory at West Brom next Saturday.
(Editing by Toby Davis) nL3N0NB091
Red tape cleared for Saints' Senegalese striker
Malaysia to ‘park the bus’ in opening football match
Van Gaal hails first win as 'new start'
Basel game a good chance for Real revival, Ancelotti says
Atletico still a work in progress, coach Simeone says
Zainal calm no more, Cheng Hoe applauds his boys
Soccer-Inter, Napoli share four goals in final 12 minutes
Messi nears scoring record with 250th La Liga goal
Zaqhwan extends lead at the top with Kangar win
Real seek first win over Liverpool, Totti eyes more goals
Liverpool and Stoke win amid more top flight drama
High-rise living no longer an issue
Pond turtles are starving to death in California
Hong Kong for the pleasure of business travellers
Copyright © 1995-2014 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)