It will be difficult to replace Pulis, says Stoke chairman Coates

The 55-year-old manager leaves the Britannia Stadium after overseeing five consecutive seasons in the Premier League, and the Potters owner has thanked him for his hard work
Stoke chairman Peter Coates believes the Potters face a difficult task in finding a successor to Tony Pulis, who left the club by mutual agreement on Tuesday.

Pulis guided Stoke into the Premier League in 2008, where they have stayed ever since, but unappealing football and the lowest points total in the club's short Premier League history saw the 55-year-old axed.

But Coates has thanked Pulis for his work during a seven-year spell at the club, and envisages a difficult task in finding a replacement.

4/1 Rafa Benitez is 4/1 with Coral to be the next manager of Stoke
"The last seven years have been some of the best in our long history and I would like to thank Tony for his huge contribution in this," read a statement from Coates on the club's official website.

"I personally regard him as a great friend and will hugely miss working with him.

"We will now begin the difficult task of searching for a successor to Tony. This will be done in private and the club will make no further statement in respect of this search until an appointment is made."

Former Portsmouth and Plymouth manager Pulis is saddened to leave the Britannia Stadium outfit, but accepts the club's decision to replace him.

"Although I am disappointed, I do understand what he means when [Coates] says the board feels a need to take the club in a different direction," read a statement from Pulis via the League Managers Association.

"In leaving I am very proud of what we have all achieved.

"I have enjoyed some wonderful times at Stoke City and nobody was prouder than me when, after 23 years of exile from top-flight football, we gained Barclays Premier League status."