TONY Pulis pointed out to Stoke fans after Saturday’s game that they’re not a club who can afford to take visitors like Sunderland for granted.
The Potters’ season, like that of the Black Cats, is still waiting for lift-off and Saturday’s visit of Martin O’Neill’s stuttering side had been seen by many Stoke fans as a great chance for three points.
Pulis shared those hopes, but knew that it was never going to be easy against one of the most defensively resilient sides in the Premier League.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game,” he admitted after the goalless draw. “We went out there with that aim.
“But it was always going to be a tight game – they’re a good side and we certainly don’t look down our noses at Sunderland.
“Martin has bought some quality players and they are a tough side to play against.”
Pulis was recognising the fact that the expectation of fans can sometimes exceed the power to deliver of mid-table clubs like his, and like Sunderland’s for that matter, but he also felt his side had gone genuinely close to grabbing the win he wanted.
“I felt Sunderland defended really well and their goalkeeper was outstanding, but we just needed a break,” he sniffed.
“Sunderland are decent.
“But I thought there was only one team that was going to win the game, and that was us.”
It’s swings and roundabouts for the Stoke manager at the moment – his team are either strong in attack and weak in defence, or weak in defence and strong in defence.
It’s a case of trying to get the twain to meet to produce a complete performance.
“That’s the most frustrating thing,” he sighed.
“Having gone to Man United and defended so poorly the previous week, we actually were really strong this week – we looked solid at the back.
“I don’t think Asmir Begovic had a save to make, so that has been a bonus – this time it was at the other end of the pitch that we struggled.”
Not that Pulis felt it was for want of trying on the part of his players.
“We just needed a break in front of goal,” he repeated.
“We created opportunities and chances, and we just needed one of them to go in for us.
“I looked at a few of the set-plays in the first half and how a couple of them stayed out I just don’t know.
“But that’s what you need: you need a bit of luck.”