Middlesbrough v Aston Villa: Why Tony Pulis has mixed emotions

Aston Villa's Tammy Abraham: His goal threat is what Boro have been missing.
Aston Villa's Tammy Abraham: His goal threat is what Boro have been missing.
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TONY PULIS admits he will be pleased on one level to extend the hand of friendship to Aston Villa counterpart Dean Smith today – but disappointed on another.

The Middlesbrough chief has professed his delight that a domestic manager in Smith, who has done the hard yards with Walsall and Brentford, has got his chance at one of English football’s big clubs, but professes to being sad that he will be unable to renew acquaintances with an old dug-out rival in Steve Bruce.

Pulis, who celebrates his first anniversary as Boro manager later this month and whose first match in charge was against Villa last December, said: “I was absolutely delighted that Dean got the job. It is great that a British manager has managed lower down and got one of the big clubs.

“But I was disappointed to see Steve lose his job.

“You work with and against people for a long, long time and gain respect. Dean has been dealt a very strong hand of cards and I expect them to be up there.”

Villa’s attacking armoury was firmly in evidence in Wednesday’s remarkable 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest on a night when Tammy Abraham scored four goals.

You work with and against people for a long, long time and gain respect. Dean has been dealt a very strong hand of cards and I expect them to be up there.

Tony Pulis

For those Boro fans watching developments, it perhaps intensified their own club’s need to add to their offensive options in the New Year with the Teessiders’ attacking choices not as strong as several promotion rivals.

Pulis, who lost out to Villa in the summer in the race to sign Everton winger Yannick Bolasie on loan, said: “We know what we want. Whether we can do it is another thing.

“I want the supporters to realise that this football club understands what we need. We might not be able to get the top ones we want, but the ones underneath might be worth the risk. I will not go under that. I do not think it is worth the risk to do that.”