Robert Huth dedicated his dramatic winner for Stoke City against Aston Villa on Monday to manager Tony Pulis who drove back from South Wales to the Britannia Stadium after the death of his mother earlier in the day and promptly gave his team a dressing-room dressing down.
Huth struck in stoppage time to complete Stoke's recovery from a goal down and secure their first win of the season. He revealed that Pulis, having arrived from Newport shortly after kick-off, set aside his grief to take the half-time team talk with Villa leading 1-0.
"The manager had some tough words for us," the German defender said. "We felt we had done all right in the first half but he didn't. In the second half we got at them even more and got the win we deserved. It was a terrible thing that happened to the gaffer and his family. So I want to dedicate my goal and our victory to them. We knew he went that morning to be with his family and we knew his mum was in trouble though we didn't know the extent of it. We wanted to do well for him but it was a surprise to see him at half-time."
Villa's manager Gérard Houllier had to miss the match, remaining in France to chair a meeting of club managers while he seeks his release from the French FA. The former Liverpool manager hopes to learn today whether Gary McAllister, first-team coach at Middlesbrough, will move to the Midlands as his No 2.
Stiliyan Petrov, Villa's captain, conceded that the delay in Houllier taking over – which forced caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald to take charge again – was not ideal. "It is complicated for the new manager and for Kev, but there is a solution and we will see the new manager soon. He has been at the top level a long time and had success. He has knowledge of football and knows what he needs to do. We wait to see how we can improve."
Villa's players were angry about a free-kick awarded to Jermaine Pennant in the prelude to Huth's winner, Petrov accusing the substitute of gamesmanship and referee Lee Probert of a poor decision. "I never accuse people of diving or anything like that," the Bulgarian said, "but he played for it and he got it. It was a bad call. The referees are saying this and that, yet when you come into a game it's totally different. They want us to respect them. When they talk about something and you see something different, it's painful."Reuse content