Wolverhampton V Stoke at Molineux Stadium : Match Preview
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has hit out at the "arrogant" critics of Stoke who rail against their direct style of football.
Stoke have a low pass completion ratio and also low possession statistics, figures which have invited criticism, not least from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who has previously accused Stoke of playing rugby rather than football.
However, McCarthy has revealed he is a big admirer of Stoke's style of play, which has seen them consolidate their position in the Barclays Premier League, as well as progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
McCarthy's team play host to the Potters on Saturday and the Wolves boss is an admirer of their opponents.
"They make the best of everything they've got," he said. "I admire and respect them for it. I think they've got some good players, actually. Why should anybody think they're going to make it easy for you?
"They play to their strengths. I was loving it at the game against Tottenham on Sunday, when the fans were singing 'we're Stoke, we'll play how we want'.
"I thought that was fantastic. I love that bloody-mindedness. "And then they were singing 'two-nil to the rugby team' and 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. It was class, I loved it."
McCarthy believes success is not defined by your footballing philosophy, but by the results you achieve. "Isn't it funny, everybody's so arrogant about how you should play," he said.
"You win football matches, that's how you're a success. "There's so many different ways of doing it, and I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way.
"The right way is winning, and getting the best out of your team. "Tony (Pulis) does it all the time, and I'm a huge admirer of him for it."
McCarthy also revealed that he has started the search for reinforcements in the January transfer window. "We're having a look, yes, of course," he said.
"We only signed one player (Roger Johnson) in the summer. Jamie (O'Hara) had been here since Christmas. "It would be nice to freshen it up and change things around, if you can. That's not always possible, but we are looking."
However, McCarthy added that the paucity of quality, available players on the market means that every potential signing will also be on his rivals' radar. "I think you'll find we're all looking in the same pool," he said. "Who's going to end up with them? Only time will tell."
Wolves have slight injury concerns over winger Matt Jarvis (thigh) and midfielder Dave Edwards (groin). Defender Jody Craddock (hamstring) and defender Kevin Foley (ankle) are unlikely to be available.
Stoke travel to Molineux after finishing their Europa League group campaign with their first defeat, a 3-1 loss to Besiktas in Istanbul on Wednesday.
The Potters had already qualified for the last 32, however, and results elsewhere in the final round of games meant they emerged as the only successful British team.
They were joined by Champions League third-placed sides Manchester United and Manchester City in Friday`s draw and Stoke got their reward with a glamour tie against Spanish giants Valencia when the competition resumes in February.
Manager Tony Pulis, whose big wish was the Potters would draw a western European side after several long trips, said: "To be the only club in the country to qualify is a fantastic achievement.
"I think it's been recognised we had the hardest group and also we travelled further than anybody else as well. It's something everybody at the club should be proud of."
Pulis took a squad of only 15 with him to Istanbul, leaving all 11 players who started the 2-1 victory over Tottenham last weekend behind, and he could revert to that line-up against Wolves.
Full-back Andy Wilkinson is likely to miss out after suffering a recurrence of his back problem against Besiktas, while Ryan Shotton is again expected to be preferred to Jermaine Pennant.
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