TONY PULIS has paid a warm and affectionate tribute to the man he will go head-to-head with in Sunday's live televised clash at the Britannia Stadium.
The Stoke City manager is a close friend of Sir Alex Ferguson, who stands on the cusp of a 13th Premier League title triumph with Manchester United.
The Reds are twelve points clear of closest rivals Manchester City as they prepare to make the journey down the M6 to the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.
Pulis has hailed United's achievement in bouncing back from the manner in which they missed out to Manchester City on last season's title in a dramatic last day finale and has revealed how supportive Ferguson is to his fellow managers.
He said: "It has been a remarkable season for them, especially the way he has galvanised them after losing out in the last few seconds of last season.
"He paid great money for Robin van Persie and people turned their noses up because of van Persie's age, but the reward he has brought has made him a pivotal signing for them. I think he has been outstanding.
"For them to bounce back and win the title again this year speaks volumes for him (Sir Alex) but also everybody at Manchester United Football Club."
Pulis has taken advice from Ferguson in the past but insists: "I don't think it's just me - I think he's good with most managers.
"I think most managers who ring him up have their calls returned. That's just the way he is; he's a top, top manager and one of the greatest this country has ever seen."