sport

Jol pours praise on Pulis

Martin Jol believes Tony Pulis should be admired for his physical style of football, despite earlier describing Stoke as a "near rugby team".

Jol made that comment in November after seeing his side beaten 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium.

Ahead of Saturday's return fixture Jol maintains his team had been bullied that day, but believes Pulis deserved credit, rather than any inferred ridicule, for it.

"In that game yes. They tried to bully us," he said.

"It was annoying for me. That is what I told my players at half-time and in the second half they did it again, so nothing changed.

"They play a style which is probably difficult for any team to play against.

"He (Pulis) feels that this is the way to do it and the way for him to be successful.

"I always admire that. I respect that. You have a lot of teams that have no style, in Europe for example.

"They play 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-4-2 and they change their style all the time and I don't like that.

"I like the people who make their choice and stick to their choice and hopefully they are successful with that."

Jol has made his managerial reputation by sending out teams intent on passing their way out of trouble.

That has proved successful enough to ensure he has always finished inside the top 10 in the Premier League, during stints at Tottenham and Fulham.

And while he admits he would not replicate Pulis' "English" style he bristled at suggestions it was an archaic formula for success.

"I could try to play like that but I haven't got the players," he said.

"It is English. In the past we had the Wimbledons of this world - these English teams.

"I always would like to play organised football that is very attractive.

"You look at Stoke and their main purpose is to deliver. To get the ball into the box.

"They will look to try and do that - with set-pieces, throw-ins and their keeper too playing the first ball to the striker.

"But I can't say that they don't play.

"There is not many teams with this style left and that is why Stoke is quite successful."

Jol's record for top-10 finishes is under threat this season following a run that has seen them struggle to score goals - or keep them out.

A goalless draw at Norwich a fortnight ago was their first clean sheet in 15 games, while they have failed to score in three of their past four Premier League fixtures.

"The goals have dried up. Not just recently but for the past 12 games," said Jol, whose side are four points behind 10th-placed Stoke.

"We are still looking for the right balance.

"If you keep it simple I feel Hugo (Rodallega) stretches defences and has the pace, Bryan (Ruiz) is the passer and Dimitar (Berbatov) is the lower target man.

"When (Mladen) Petric comes on he scores goals. He's probably the goalscorer in the club, but he's a bit similar to Berbatov so it's not easy to find the right combination."