Middlesbrough: Tony Pulis gets unfair criticism says Preston North End manager Alex Neil ahead of Carabao Cup tie
Preston North End manager Alex Neil believes Tony Pulis gets unfair criticism for his style of management.
The Lily Whites welcome Middlesbrough to Deepdale omorrow evening as they compete for a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Ever since his Stoke City days, Pulis has been known to apply a very direct style to his sides and in the past, has been accused of not playing the most exciting brand of football.
However, so far, it has been effective for Boro who finds themselves level on point with league leaders Leeds United with only one defeat to their name.
Neil, speaking ahead of the clash, has defended Pulis' style, saying there is more to Boro's game than just being a physical presence.
“I think at times it is a bit unfair the criticism [Tony Pulis’] teams get, Neil told Preston's official club website.
"I have seen them a couple of times this year and they have played very well. They are renowned for being very strong, big, physical, good at set plays and things like that, but there is also another side to their game.
"They can play; they have some good footballers and if you give them the ball, they will damage you.”
Pulis is expected to spring the changes again for the cup after handing debuts youngsters Enes Mahmutovic, Harry Chapman, Djed Spence, Stephen Walker, Nathan Wood and Nathan McGinley in the penalty win over Notts County.
It will also give the former West Brom manager the opportunity to award game time to the likes of Dael Fry, Paddy McNair, Grant Leadbitter and Ashley Fletcher, who have been on the fringes of the first-team in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, Neil believes that whatever squad Pulis field, it'll be an experienced one.
He said: “The difficulty in some of the early rounds in the Cup is the fact that teams and managers tend to utilise their squad more, because of the need for competitive football to keep your lads fresh, to make sure they are ready to contribute.
“The options are where they are as a club; they have been in the Premier League, they have got a lot of cash and an experienced squad and I would expect if they do make changes, that it will be guys like Jordan Hugill, Ashley Fletcher and Grant Leadbitter who come in, so they have got vast amount of experience at this level, have good players, but we have to make sure we go and do what we can do well."