By Wayne Veysey at Wembley
Tony Pulis insisted the disparity in resources between moneybags Manchester City and Stoke City was a key factor in his club’s FA Cup final defeat.
The Stoke manager admitted City “deserved” their triumph and reflected that his team had run out of gas following a draining season.
“When you think they have a £35 million player (Edin Dzeko) on the bench and never came on, it is pretty frightening,” Pulis told reporters afterwards.
“The six or seven weeks prior to the game, our performance levels have been excellent. It is disappointing today that we haven’t reached that level.
“Against the quality of depth they have got, you need to bring your A-game to the table. Maybe we have run out of a bit of depth. Ricardo Fuller is injured – he is a game changer for us, Danny Higginbottom, too.
“I have nothing but congratulations for Man City. They were the better team, fully deserved to win and it is difficult for me to stand here and say that. I will go hide in some bunker for 48 hours.”
Nevertheless, Pulis reflected on an outstanding season for Stoke, which has culminated in a first-ever FA Cup final, a place in next season’s Europa League and eighth place in the Premier League with two games to play.
He said: “It has been a great season – to stay in the Premier League for a fourth consecutive year and to be in Europe. It is fantastic we will be playing there for the first time in 40 years.
“We have made so much progress as a football club over the last four years. It is fantastic to be part of it. I have been in football a long time and I have never known a group of supporters be so close to the club, the chairman and the management staff.
“We have done that gradually over a period of time and in the future we will do it step by step.
"We can’t afford to throw fortunes at it. We have to stay financially stable. If we got relegated tomorrow, the club would be in a good position to keep all our players and for them to stay even for two or three years in the Championship.”
Yaya Toure struck the winner at Wembley to hand his side a narrow 1-0 triumph and end a 35-year wait for silverware.