10:59pm Wednesday 16th April 2014
By Paul Green
Tony Pulis has spoken of his pride about the fact Crystal Palace will be in the top flight again next season after reaching 40 points tonight at Goodison Park.
The Eagles put a big dent in Everton’s Champions League hopes by becoming only the second team to beat them at home all season.
Jason Puncheon’s first half opener was added to early in the second half by Scott Dann, only for substitute Steven Naismith to get the hosts right back in it.
However, a rare goal from Cameron Jerome restored Palace’s two-goal cushion and although Kevin Mirallas pulled one back to set up a tense finale, Palace held on to hit the 40 point mark.
Pulis said: “The players have been absolutely fantastic. I’m proud of the players.
“I’ve just had a chat with them now and just said without their effort, commitment and buying into what we are trying to do, we wouldn’t have achieved it, irrespective of what people say we’ve done.
“Your players have got to buy into what you want to do.
“We’ve got good pace. It is a different team to the team I had at Stoke where we didn’t have the pace that we’ve got here so we have to move the ball as quick as we can through the pitch.
“I thought we did that really well today.”
The Selhurst chief added: “We had four points when we went to Hull so that’s a long time ago. It’s brilliant.
“I’m absolutely delighted for the supporters, for the football club and it is nice to say that we are going to be a Premier League club next year with four games to go, which is remarkable really. “It is important now that we focus on the four games left and get as many points as we can to end off the season.
“The supporters deserve that for sticking with us at the beginning.”
Pulis also felt Jerome’s goal which made it 3-1 was key to tonight’s success.
He explained: “I thought we played really well. We always looked dangerous on the break – the two widemen, Cammy up front, the pace.
“When the second goal goes in I thought it would be one of them now where we would just be sensible.
“We gave them a lift when they got the goal to make it 2-1 and Cammy’s goal was vital for us then.
“At 3-1 for all their pressure it was always in front of us.
“To give them a second goal again gave them a lift and got the crowd going.
“The crowd were absolutely fantastic for them tonight.”
And the manager had plenty of praise for wingers Yannick Bolasie and Puncheon for their contributions to Palace’s unlikely rise up the table this season.
He said: “I’ve been impressed with the wide players, Bolasie and Puncheon have done brilliantly for us.
“They’ve been the catalyst of everything we’ve done really because they are a non-stop threat.
“Punch has had about 14 clubs I think!
“So they two of them have been journeymen in lots of respects but they’ve found their home.
“They are very comfortable at the minute and they feel comfortable within the group.”
Pulis added: “I think all season we’ve looked dangerous without scoring the goals.
“Cameron Jerome hasn’t scored as many goals as we would have liked him to have done but everyone has added to it.
“In the first half at Tottenham we could have scored three or four goals, they were simpler chances than we scored tonight so the chances have been created – we just haven’t been taking them.
“Luckily in the last couple of games we have taken those chances.”
Pulis is now a leading candidate for this season’s manager of the year award after turning palace around from relegation no hopers to top ten contenders.
But the man himself admits he had big doubts when first approached by co-chairman Steve parish to take on the position.
He said: “It was difficult. I spoke to Steve about four or five times, I met him the one time and I didn’t feel as though it was right.
“And then Steve wanted to have a chat again and he came down to Bournemouth.
“We had a good chat about it and he convinced me that it was a challenge.
“Looking at it everybody I’d spoke to had said it was a difficult one.
“The two people I spoke to who said it would be a great challenge were Alex Ferguson and my old chairman Peter Coates.
“They were the only two who said take it, the rest were very, very negative towards it.”
Pulis added: “I hadn’t seen them play, I hadn’t seen what they had, what they didn’t have but I enjoy a challenge.
“It is in my nature to stand up and try and march people forward and we’ve done that.
“The players have been wonderful. You can’t do it without players responding and giving everything and they’ve given everything.
“You’ve seen that again tonight against a very good Everton team.”
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