Tony Pulis' seven-year reign as Stoke manager has come to an end after he and the club agreed to part company by mutual consent.

Widespread speculation had suggested the 55-year-old's time was up after a meeting with chairman Peter Coates this morning.

However, it took the Potters several hours to finalise the details of his departure, with confirmation finally coming at shortly before 9.30pm tonight.

In a brief statement, the Barclays Premier League club said: "Stoke City and Tony Pulis confirm that they have mutually agreed that Tony will leave the Club with immediate effect."

Pulis, who following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes' move into the Manchester United hotseat was the second-longest serving manager in the country, leaves Stoke in a far better position than he found them.

Within two years of taking over for his second spell in charge in 2006 he won promotion to the Premier League, where they have never finished below 14th.

He also led them to their first FA Cup final and consequently into the Europa League.

However, a poor run in the second half of this season - during which the Potters won just three of their last 19 league matches and briefly diced with relegation - saw them finish with their lowest Premier League points tally.

Pulis' style of football was also singled out for criticism, with his critics saying his sides were over-physical and too reliant on the long ball.

That criticism began to spread to fans, many of whom became disenchanted amid the club's poor end to the season.

Many started to question Pulis' future and although that has now been resolved, winger Matt Etherington has warned supporters to be careful what they wish for.

"I've spoken to a few of the other boys and they're shocked as well, it's hit us," he said of Pulis' dismissal on talkSPORT.

"You have to be careful what you wish for in football sometimes.

"You look at Charlton under Alan Curbishley and look where they are now. Hopefully it won't go that way for us, hopefully we'll get someone in who will push us on and make us into a top-10 team.

"If you look at where Stoke were when he first came in - mid-table in the Championship - you can't argue he's done a fantastic job."

Etherington also defended Pulis' style of play.

"First and foremost he wanted us to be defensively very sound," he added.

"You have to be solid or there is a big chance you will get relegated. That was his main priority, which was fair enough.

"There were times when we weren't pretty to watch but he had us well-drilled and that shouldn't be taken away from the job the manager has done.

"We have definitely got better players at the club than we had when I joined in the first season in the Premier League.

"The gaffer said in pre-season he wanted the way we played to evolve and we started off relatively well.

"When it went bad and we weren't picking up results we maybe went back to the old ways.

"You can say it worked because it kept us up but we went back to basics to grind out results.

"The way we finished this season was poor, we all know that and the fans weren't happy and rightly so.

"We had the quality in the squad to finish higher this year. The players need to look at ourselves because we didn't perform.

"But if you look at where we finished in the last few seasons you can't really argue."

Outgoing Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez is the early bookmakers' favourite for the job, having overtaken the man he succeeded at Stamford Bridge, Roberto Di Matteo, in the running.