Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka admits he cannot understand the criticism West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis attracts given his track record.
The two men go head-to-head tomorrow when the Spaniard takes promoted Boro to The Hawthorns hoping to do what the Baggies have done in recent seasons and establish themselves as a fixture in the top flight.
Pulis had his detractors during his long and distinguished spell in charge at Stoke, and found himself in the firing line once again during the second half of last season with his side struggling for results.
However, Karanka holds him in the highest regard and believes the statistics speak for themselves.
He said: “You look at his numbers. Since the first day I met him, he has shown me he is a gentleman and his job is there.
“He has never been relegated in I don’t know how many games in the Premier League, so for that reason, he has all my respect and I wish him all the best – after the game on Sunday.”
Boro face their third away fixture in eight days this weekend after last Sunday’s derby victory at Sunderland was followed by a disappointing League Cup exit at Fulham on Wednesday evening, although Karanka is hoping that reverse will serve to focus minds once again.
He said: “If we had won easily against Fulham, I could think we would have arrived to play West Brom maybe thinking that we are better than we are.
“But after the game on Wednesday, I am completely sure that the team knows that we need to win again. We have to move on.”
Boro travel without a recognised left-back after George Friend and Fabio da Silva both joined James Husband on the casualty list, although midfielder Adam Forshaw should be in high spirits after signing a new four-year contract.
Forshaw may not enjoy the profile of some of the club’s most recent recruits, but he is a man who is never far from his head coach’s thoughts.
Karanka said: “He is the kind of player who always wants to play. For him, he doesn’t care if it’s one minute, 30 seconds or 90 minutes, he goes on to the pitch with the same intensity.
“When you see him, you know that he is more than capable of playing in the Premier League, and he has shown everybody that he can play.”
Forshaw, 24, has joined Ben Gibson, Friend and Daniel Ayala in signing a fresh deal in the wake of promotion to the Premier League.
Forshaw said: “I’m delighted. I’ve enjoyed my time at the club since I’ve been here. My team-mates, the staff, the fans, everyone around the area has been really supportive.
“It was a bit of a no-brainer when the contract came up. The club spoke about it to me and my agent at the back end of last season.
“It was nice to go into the summer break knowing that if I came back and worked hard, hopefully that would be on the table.
“Fortunately, we’ve got it done early in the season, so I can put it to one side and concentrate on the games.”
West Brom boss Pulis says he will not be panicked into buying ahead of deadline day as Albion’s transfer frustrations continue.
The 58-year-old is prepared to take the flak for the Baggies’ signing struggles as their efforts drag on, despite the club offering record money for players.
Albion have only signed Matt Phillips from QPR and Everton loanee Brendan Galloway this summer, while they pulled out of a record £15m move for West Ham’s Diafra Sakho because of concerns over his fitness.
Jay Rodriguez remains a loan target, with the Baggies hopeful of taking the Southampton striker to The Hawthorns, while Saido Berahino looks increasingly likely to stay, despite Albion being prepared to sell him this summer.
Pulis wants five players before Wednesday’s deadline – and the club are prepared the spend big if necessary – but insists he will not waste the money.
“I’m not going to panic and bring a load of players in to satisfy people out there and then, after two weeks, they say they are no better than what we’ve got,” he said.
“I still think I’m getting them (the five players). I have been at the club for two years and we have re-signed a lot of players who were under contract, but I have also said we need new impetus.
“They have to be the right players. When I came into the club there were players who were here and have since left and they cost an enormous amount of money and the club has not got any return. “
Albion host Middlesbrough having lost on penalties to League One side Northampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday. They have won one and lost one of their opening two league games, but without new faces Pulis knows he will be targeted by frustrated fans.
He said: “You have to accept it and in my job, win, lose or draw, people are going to criticise. We haven’t done badly in 22 months at this club. Last year with 10 games to go we were safe and there’s a club across the road (Aston Villa) whose wage bill was nearly three times more than ours and is now in the Championship.”