TONY PULIS was left ruing an uncharacteristic defensive lapses . . . as Stoke City failed to make the most of a highly-promising first half display at Old Trafford.
Despite Manchester United’s formidable striking talents, Pulis was disappointed with the way his side defended after going in front against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
City’s manager pointed to the fact that all of the goals they conceded came from crosses as United eventually ran out 4-2 winners in an entertaining encounter.
“That’s as well as we’ve played at Old Trafford, but the really disappointing thing is that our defending was sloppy, which is unlike us,” he commented.
“The two goals either side of half time really took the sting out of the game for us. They were extremely poor ones to concede, as indeed was the fourth one.
“We’ll have a long, hard look at that in training on Monday because we are normally so strong at defending crosses and we picked a bad day to let that slip.
“You know against the top, top teams that if you switch off against them, they will cut you open and punish you, which is what United did so clinically today.”
Pulis was frustrated that his side went in at half-time 2-1 down after an own goal from Wayne Rooney had given them reward for a bright start to the game.
“It was a massive disappointment to find ourselves behind at the break and the lads were gutted in the dressing room after playing so well,” added City’s boss.
“We had the opportunity to score two or three goals after we went in front, but we didn’t make the most of them and you know they’re going to create chances.
“They got back on level terms with their first real chance after we’d been the better side for the first 25 minutes and that gave them a tremendous lift. You don’t need to give a side like United a lift and I thought their front four were excellent, particularly Valencia.”
Despite the final outcome of a game which had its promising moments, Pulis could draw a lot of encouragement from the way his side performed against one of the big clubs once again, as they did against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
“We’ve played much better against the top clubs this season,” he said. “We’re trying to evolve as a Football Club; I think we’ve got better players in the Club, but it takes time and we’ve got to make sure that we get the balance right as we move it on step by step.”