The Potters manager admits that his team must be at their best to cope with the champions on Saturday and reveals that his side are learning about the rigours of European football
Stoke City boss Tony Pulis believes that Manchester United have a better team now than the side that won the Premier League last season and feels that, if they played at their maximum, they could beat any side in the world.
The Potters manager thinks his team will have to be at their best to cope with the Red Devils - who he feels, at their best, would be too strong for European champions Barcelona.
Pulis told reporters: "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.
"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."
Pulis believes United’s youthful front-line are extremely dangerous to opposition defences and that Sir Alex Ferguson's side will be a major force once again this season.
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."
The Stoke boss had admitted he and his team are not fully up to speed in coping with the extra demands their Europa League campaign is having on the Potters squad and he feels it’s a learning curve for all at the club.
"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."
Kenwyne Jones’ hamstring injury, meanwhile, is not as bad as first feared and the striker is expected to be fit after the next 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."