Stoke City: I've no issues with Steven Gerrard after derby criticism, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis insists there is no ill feeling towards Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard after he tried to insult Everton by likening their style to Stoke's.
Gerrard has since apologised publicly to Pulis after he had criticised Everton's long ball game – during a match in which their passing completion rate was actually higher than Liverpool's.
And now Pulis says no offence was taken after claiming, a little tongue-in-cheek, that Gerrard's observations were actually a pat on the back.
Pulis, who has a soft spot for Gerrard after he looked after Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross on his first England call up two-and-a-half years ago, said: "I know Steven has apologised for what he's said, but I actually took it as a compliment that Everton play like Stoke.
"I think Everton have done fantastic this season and are a good side.
"I've got a great respect for Gerrard. I think he's a fantastic player and a great advert for English football. It's good that people have different opinions.
"I don't take the criticism to heart – if it even was criticism. People know me by now."
Pulis, who takes Stoke to Norwich City tomorrow (3pm) seeking a second win of the season, says his team's style has unquestionably improved since the August arrival of Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi.
"I think we're playing better stuff now than we have in the previous five years," he argued.
"The biggest disappointment is we haven't taken the opportunities and the chances we've created.
"Even in the Sunderland game last week, which was a very tight affair, we still had the best chances of the game. We need to be taking those chances," added Pulis, after seeing his team score eight in nine league games.
Medics are assessing the condition of full back Marc Wilson after he underwent surgery on his broken leg.
Pulis hopes the operation on his fractured fibula will now kick-start a recovery programme that could see him playing again in three months.
But Pulis, who is likely to slot Andy Wilkinson into the left back vacancy tomorrow, warns that Wilson will be a hard act to follow in the meantime.
"Everyone talks about Ryan (Shawcross) and Rob (Huth), but I think Willo has been our best defender this season.
"He's also so good on the ball and can often be under-estimated."
Glenn Whelan's return to fitness after hamstring trouble leaves him tussling with Dean Whitehead for a spot in midfield at Carrow Road.
"They are actually good friends," added Pulis, "but I'm sure they will be fighting for that spot."