Stoke assistant manager Dave Kemp hailed the club’s “main man” Tony Pulis after another show of commitment for – and by – the Potters.
His players came from behind at the Britannia Stadium to beat Aston Villa 2-1 with an injury-time winner to secure their first win of the season.
Pulis, however, faced an even tougher task as he travelled to the game after the death of his mother in Newport earlier in the day, taking his place on the touchline for the second half.
Whether his presence had any more of an inspirational effect than usual is difficult to quantify but Kemp is in no doubt how important the 52-year-old is to them.
“The manager of the football club is the main man and if he is not there then there is an impact,” he said.
“If Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t turn up one day Manchester United aren’t going to be the same.
“He obviously had a very sad day but typically for him he wanted to get straight into it, put his overalls on and get on with his work.
“That is why he has been a great manager for this football club. He is desperate, with all else he has got going on, to have an impact.
“His appearance gave the players and the fans a boost and I think you saw that.”
Robert Huth deflected home Matt Etherington’s shot in the third minute of injury time to snatch the win after Stewart Downing’s 35th-minute diving header had put Villa ahead.
Kenwyne Jones, the £8m club-record summer signing, capped an impressive home debut with an 80th-minute equaliser.
“We’ve had some disappointing results but we had some disappointments in games where we haven’t played that badly but haven’t got the breaks,” said Kemp.
“I thought we made our own fortune yesterday. We started well, conceded a poor goal for us and let it affect us up until half-time.
“But we showed great character coming out for the second half and kept going, made our own luck and once we scored I felt we could get the second and we did.”
Aston Villa caretaker manager Kevin Macdonald still expects to have a significant role in Saturday’s match at home to Bolton as new manager Gerard Houllier – who missed last night’s defeat because of prior commitments to the French Football Federation – is not likely to be ready.
“The latest I heard was that I would be making the training plans and picking the team for Saturday and Mr Houllier would be at the game,” he said.
“I met him last Friday; he is a very intelligent man about football and we had conversations about that.
“I think he will do a very good job.”