The Potters have conceded just two goals at home - the fewest in the Premier League - and claimed seven clean sheets this term.
Coates said: "I know he cut his teeth on Italian football during his early interest in coaching.
"The Catenaccio defensive system interested him and the Italians haven't done too badly, have they, with their four World Cups?"
And he added: "Tony's record speaks for itself. He is very good at organising defensive play and that is a great credit to him.
"It is a talent, like everything else in the game."