Tony Pulis is never shy of praising an opponent but there was something heartfelt in his review of the Stoke City side he took on today.
Pulis, in his first home game in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, oversaw a well-contested goalless draw. Stoke only managed two shots on target but that was two more than Wednesday in a game when both teams were determined to give nothing away.
It was his third match since replacing Garry Monk and Wednesday, who had six points deducted at the start of the season, are now second-bottom and four points adrift of Nottingham Forest and the safety line.
And he has also pointed out that he’s been chucked in at the deep end with away matches at Preston and Swansea, at home to “very, very good” Stoke and high-flying Reading before a trip to Norwich.
He said: “I have been in charge for three games and the players’ attitude has been absolute first class.
“I don’t think we would have lost against Preston if we had had 11 men on the pitch. I thought we played well in the first half against Swansea without creating too many chances.
“We were solid today. Stoke are a very, very good side and have got a great depth of quality right through the team. I don’t think either side created enough chances to win.
“We are short in areas that we need to address. The more you stay in the game the more you understand that you need leg beaters, quality on set plays and you need people who can score from set plays. You also need goals and people who can sniff out goals for you.
“We’ve got Josh (Windass) coming back after suspension following the game on Wednesday night and hopefully that will help us a little bit but we need to get through to the window and, fingers crossed, we can hopefully get some more quality in.”
This was Pulis’s first clean sheet since taking the job – and picked up against a side who were the second highest scorers in the Championship.
He said: “I am pleased but to win games of football you have to have it at both ends. You can’t just have it at one end.
“I don’t think you can fault the players for their effort and commitment, but I’m concerned about the games because there are tough games coming up after the effort they’ve put in.
“We have got tough games coming up but the players’ attitude has been good but it’s a tough gig this one.”