London: Tony Pulis finally completed his arduous journey from outcast to saviour at Stoke City by leading his unfashionable club to their first FA Cup final and now he has unfinished business with Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday.
When Pulis returned for his second spell in charge of Stoke in June 2006, his appointment was greeted with disdain by a fanbase with bad memories of their manager's first stint at the Britannia Stadium.
Pulis had been unsuccessful and unpopular during that three-year reign and the 53-year-old now admits at least 90 percent of Stoke supporters were against chairman Peter Coates' decision to bring him back.
Fortunately for Pulis, his chairman and Stoke's long-suffering fans, it proved an inspired move and the club will enjoy the biggest day in its' 148-year history when he leads the team out for the Cup final against City's collection of mega-money signings.
"The truth is I was nervous for the chairman, because I wasn't exactly everyone's first choice for the job. In fact, it was probably 90 per cent (against the appointment)," Pulis said.
"But you are always going to get criticism as a manager, even if you are winning things. Even Sir Alex Ferguson was getting slaughtered a few years ago, and you just have to accept it.
"If you are expecting a bed of roses and a pat on the back every week, you are in the wrong job."
"You are always going to be criticised, because everyone can do it better than you."
"I hope the supporters appreciate me now. I'm pretty sure 95 per cent are now convinced we are doing it the right way and that Peter made the right choice."
But, while Newport-born Pulis feels reaching the final offers vindication of his belief in his route-one philosophy, he also has revenge in mind as he bids to make amends for the worst day of his managerial career.
With just stoppage time to be played, Pulis's Gillingham team were on the verge of clinching promotion to the second-tier Championship with a shock 2-0 victory over City at Wembley in 1999.
Yet there was a sting in the tale for Pulis as goals from Kevin Horlock and then Paul Dickov in the fifth minute of additional time rescued City, who won the League One play-off final on penalties.
Pulis left Gillingham before the start of the following season after a disagreement with his chairman Paul Scally and the result was so painful that he refused to go back to Wembley until Stoke's semi-final victory over Bolton.
The bitter taste still lingers for Pulis 12 years later and nothing could be better than making City suffer at Wembley this time.
"It will mean more against City," he said. "We didn't deserve to lose that game and I had never been back to Wembley for a game since because of it.
"But it made me a stronger person. You take things out of defeat as well as victory."
Pulis's players would love to do it for him and Stoke striker Jonathan Walters summed up the admiration the squad has for their manager.
"Tony has got players in who have played at the highest level and, for whatever reason, it's not worked out because of injuries or form," Walters said.
"The gaffer has done well with the players he's brought in. He signs the right sort of characters."
"He had a core group that came up from the Championship, which they still have to this day. He has just added to it."