Tony Pulis is never going to be accepted into many football fans’ hearts. His gruff, direct manner and matching brand of football alienates many and impresses relatively few.
Those that his style does impress, either for its inclusion of tireless work rate or defensive organisation, have to add the clichéd ‘not-pretty-but-effective’ tagline to an otherwise approving statement.
Put simply, Pulis is unfashionable; a boxy, 1970s family sedan in a world of slick, wind-tunnelled sports cars streaking down the breathless highway that is the modern Premier League. That’s the way he likes it.
In the early days of Stoke City’s Premier League adventure, the Britannia Stadium was a venue where the mighty fell at the hands, and heads, of plucky, determined troops. Rory Delap’s infamous missiles and a fast, physical approach made for a difficult afternoon for all who went there.
In that period, Pulis was able to demonstrate his niche system, refined over years of managing in the lower leagues, to the wider world. Controversial it was, but successful too.
Now at Crystal Palace, Pulis has the chance to use it yet again. The old methods had run out of steam in the Potteries, but with a new horizon the Pulis bandwagon is rolling on again.
Palace have won 5 and lost just one of their 7 home league games under the Welshman. It’s the kind of form that, if continued, will probably keep Palace in the top division and maintain Pulis’ unblemished record of never having been relegated as a manager.
In a season where the standard of defending has been nothing short of abysmal, from all involved in the Premier League, Palace are beginning to buck the trend; a sure sign of the Tony Pulis effect at its most … well, ‘effective’.