WEST BROM boss Tony Pulis insists Sunderland counterpart Gus Poyet must be respected for speaking his mind.
Poyet has got himself into hot-water with some of his post-match comments over recent weeks - prompting the head coach to issue an open letter to Black Cats fans yesterday.
But Pulis, who has overseen a revival over West Brom’s fortunes after two months at the helm, has backed Poyet ahead of tomorrow’s crunch meeting at the Stadium of Light.
“I’ve got tremendous respect for Gus and for that club so we will certainly be prepared for what will be a really tough battle,” said Pulis.
“Gus says what he thinks.
“He’s as straight as a die, whether you talk to him on or off the pitch.
“He is a good football man who knows the game and I have enjoyed his company whenever I’ve been with him.
“Gus has got to do what Gus has got to do. We’re all different and that’s what makes the world spin round.
“Some people will do and say things that other people wouldn’t do.
“What Gus says and does is up to Gus and you have to respect him.
“He was a tremendous player and now he’s coached and managed and done very well.
“He took Sunderland to a cup final last year so he hasn’t done too badly. There are great expectations up there and it’s a wonderful club and a wonderful area in the North East.
“You have to live with those expectations and Gus has been up there for a while now so he will understand that.
“They are big clubs. The punters come out and support their team and, like everywhere else in the country, they want to see their team go out and win.”
Sunderland suffered a dismal defeat to QPR in their last Premier League outing - becoming the first side to drop points at home to the Loftus Road outfit this season. But after scouting the game, Pulis believes Sunderland could easily have come away with something for their efforts.
“We watched them against Burnley and against QPR and they were sloppy in the first half against QPR but in the second half they could have scored three or four times. They really pulled it together and if they’d got the breaks they could have got a result easily.”