Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka admits he cannot understand the criticism West Brom counterpart Tony Pulis attracts given his track record.
The two men will go head-to-head in the Premier League on Sunday when the Spaniard takes promoted Boro to the Hawthorns hoping to do what the Baggies have done in recent season 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 EFL 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 will 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 him, you know that he is more than capable of playing in the Premier League, and he has shown everybody that he can play.”