EXCLUSIVE: Stoke boss Tony Pulis on why window shopping was anything but fun

A 16-hour day at work, three deals done and one missed. That was my transfer deadline day at Stoke, and while it sounds exciting, I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it.

I was up early and in the office by 8.30am. I knew how busy the day would be and so I had given our players the day off. I wanted us to give our full attention to what was
going on.

We had been in touch with quite a few agents in the run-up to deadline day and spoke to them again in the morning, setting ourselves up for the afternoon rush. Things really started taking shape about midday and, to be honest, we always felt in control of what we were doing, despite the increasing number of calls.

In all, we had a team of about 10 people going hell for leather to get these deals done. We ended up with the chief executive going out to get us food so that we didn’t have to
leave the ground at any point and risk missing a call, email or fax.

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Danny Higginbotham of Sunderland

Deadline day deal: Danny Higginbotham left Sunderland for Stoke

He brought back an Italian — a meal not a player — and we laid it out in his room so that we could have a little break. We treated ourselves to a glass of wine, too, but with the phones going off we didn’t hang about. Happily, we all have different ring tones, so there was no problem with us missing calls which we thought were aimed elsewhere.

As I said, we brought three players into the club, Danny Higginbotham, Tom Soares and Michael Tonge, which was a result for us. But, as is so often the case on days like this, we got them three different ways.

Danny was the easy one. We rang Sunderland first thing in the morning and agreed a deal. He’s been at Stoke before so we didn’t have to sell the club to him. He knew what we are about. He was on the way to us early in the morning. No problem.

Then there was Tom. We got that going in the afternoon and used an intermediary to help make the process as smooth as possible. There were a lot of discussions on this one and by the time we got things sorted out and got him to a medical, it was 10.30pm. Amazing for a process which had started relatively early.

Then there was Michael. This was the scary one for us. I had been talking about him to Sam Ellis at Sheffield United for quite a while and we knew he was available and also what the details of any deal would be. But that didn’t stop it from going on late into the evening.

The transfer had huge potential to go wrong as we were doing everything from a distance instead of meeting the people involved, which is never ideal. But Sheffield United were very professional and really helped us. They didn’t just send across all the forms, they managed to send the right ones, which isn’t always the case! Silly delays like that can stop a deal on deadline day. Thankfully it didn’t happen here.

But you cannot win them all and we didn’t manage to take Joe Ledley from Cardiff. The truth is that they just didn’t want to sell him, so fair play to them. We tried to put a little
pressure on them with the fee, but they wouldn’t budge, which is a shame because we think he’s a good player. You win some, you lose some.

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