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Pulis: United the best in world
Published : 23 Sep 2011 17:09:00
Stoke manager Tony Pulis believes the Manchester United side that will visit the Britannia Stadium on Saturday is the best in world football. Sir Alex Ferguson guided his side to a record 19th top-flight title last season but many pundits felt it was not one of the better line-ups the Scot had overseen. However, there has been no such criticism this season with United flying out of the traps, winning five straight Premier League games, including last weekend's 3-1 victory over Chelsea and their 8-2 mauling of Arsenal in August. The addition of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea this summer, as well as the return from loan spells of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, has given United a more youthful, energetic look. And Pulis believes, if they were to face Champions League winners Barcelona now, it would be a very different outcome to the 3-1 victory the Catalans achieved at Wembley in May. "If you look at their team and the way they've started, I think United now have a better team than they had last year, and they won the Premier League title last year," said the Potters boss. "It's going to be a tough test. We have to play to our maximum, we have to have things go for us, and United have to be a little bit short on the day. "If they play to their maximum, they will beat any side in the world, and I put Barcelona in that because they have been pretty outstanding." Wayne Rooney - yet to score against Stoke - has been the main man as far as goals are concerned for United, netting nine times already, but it is Mexican Javier Hernandez that has caught Pulis' eye. He said: "I think Hernandez is the next Denis Law. His movement in the box, his anticipation, is fantastic. He's quick, he's got everything great goalscorers need and he's certainly deadly in front of goal. "And Ashley Young, what a great signing that's turned out to be. Then you've got Rooney playing the best football he's played for years, Nani scoring goals from everywhere. They've got goalscorers and they will be a major force again." Stoke have also had a good start to the season but their unbeaten run came to a juddering halt at Sunderland last weekend when they slumped to a 4-0 loss. Although Pulis refused to blame their hectic schedule, Saturday's match will be a fourth in 10 days, while another three-game week will see Besiktas visit the Britannia Stadium in the Europa League next Thursday. "It's something that we're learning," added Pulis. "We won't know how it will affect us until we get through the period. It's different, we've had to change the training routine a little bit and we'll continue to do that. "It is suck it and see at the moment. There's nothing prepared because we've never done this before. "We're enjoying it. For the first time in a long, long time we're actually experiencing European football. It's something we should cherish, not something we should make excuses for. The next two games will be great games to be involved in." Although Pulis is hopeful a number of players will shake off niggles, he will definitely be without striker Kenwyne Jones. The Trinidad and Tobago international limped off during the Carling Cup victory over Tottenham on Tuesday with a hamstring injury and, although the problem is not as bad as first feared, he is expected to be out until after next month's international break. Pulis said: "That is a big disappointment for us because Kenwyne had started the season really well. And, although we brought Peter (Crouch) in, we were hoping he'd put the pressure on Kenwyne to get the best out of Kenwyne."