Coates hails Pulis' Italian influence

Tony Pulis has been hailed by his boss as one of the best defensive coaches in the country.

Stoke City's 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday meant they have now kept seven clean sheets in 15 Premier League matches – the best in the top flight this season.

It means, with the campaign well short of its mid-point, they are half-way towards their highest ever tally of Premier League clean sheets, the 14 they achieved in 2009-10.

"His record speaks for itself," said Stoke chairman Peter Coates. "He is very good at organising defensive play and that is a great credit to him. It is a talent, like everything else in the game.

"I think it's one of the features of modern-day reporting that not much credit is paid to defences.

"They just want to talk about goals but defending is an art as well."

Quoted in The Sentinel newspaper, Coates says Pulis is heavily influenced by the study of Italian football that he made in the 1970s when he began taking his coaching badges.

"I know he cut his teeth on Italian football during his early interest in coaching," he added.
"The so-called Catenaccio defensive system interested him and the Italians haven't done too badly, have they, with their four World Cups?

"I don't want to tempt providence but fingers crossed that we stay on (this) course. I realise the vagaries of football, so you have to keep a proper perspective on things.

"But yes, we are having a great run and it's nice to get away from drawing games to winning them. It makes a fantastic difference to where you are in the table."

Coates confirmed that Saturday's match-winner, 30-year-old Dean Whitehead, who is out of contract in the summer, could soon be the subject of talks over a new deal.