A sexy appointment? Maybe not, but Tony Pulis is the sort of boss Sheffield Wednesday need

A little over six years ago, Tony Pulis accepted one of the highest honours in football management.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 3:30 pm

The 2013/14 Premier League season saw Brendan Rodgers come within a slip of ending Liverpool’s generational wait for a Premier League, it saw Roberto Martinez reinvigorate a tired Everton to a Europe-securing fifth place and it saw Steve Bruce lead Hull City to an FA Cup final.

Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini won the league in his first season in England.

But at the end of season awards, it was Tony Pulis that left clutching the manager of the year award for his role in steering Crystal Palace to safety after inheriting one of the worst-ever starts in top tier history.

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Picking up the role after they’d lost nine of their first 11 matches, few gave Pulis’ Palace a chance. They’d scored only four goals. They looked dead to the world. They finished 11th.

The deserved gong came months after his controversial departure from a Stoke City he turned from Championship also-rans to Premier League staples to the Europa League. He’d later steer West Brom from a mid-season run of seven defeats in 10 to midtable safety.

This week Sheffield Wednesday became Pulis’ latest club, following on from an up-and-down Middlesbrough tenure that saw them come within a point of back-to-back playoff qualification.

A number of Wednesday fans, like those at Boro before them, have expressed their displeasure at Pulis’ methods, at a playing style derided in the modern football world. Pulis, it is believed in some quarters, provides a playing style unbecoming.

Tony Pulis is the new manager of Sheffield Wednesday.

It won’t be sexy. Anyone hoping to watch Wednesday tear teams apart with week-on-week displays of free-flowing football will likely be disappointed. Anyone hoping to watch Wednesday set up in a manner more likely to grind points out of the Championship season, will likely not.

Because Pulis’ record speaks for itself. With the exception of Steve Bruce, the last Owls manager to arrive with such a robust CV was perhaps Ron Atkinson some 23 years ago.

Those turning their noses up at Pulis may be interested to note that their new manager has not managed a side as low in the pyramid since his first stint at Stoke nearly two decades ago. It could be well argued that it is he, if anyone, that is stooping.

When was the last time Wednesday played the brand of football Pulis so famously fails to provide? Year one with Carlos, perhaps, but before that the glory years of Trevor Francis and Ron Atkinson. It’s been a while.

The six-point boost Wednesday received earlier this month has changed the game but not called time on it; the club are still fighting a relegation battle regardless of the targets Dejphon Chansiri may have discussed.

And by employing Tony Pulis they have a steady hand on the tiller, an experienced, successful manager that has a proven track record of expunging the traits that have cost Wednesday in recent months; defensive frailty, a soft-touch home record, an inconsistent nature.

Hillsborough may not ooze sex appeal under Tony Pulis. But instant gratification is not what’s needed here. Let’s hope Pulis can first of all renew Wednesday’s marriage vows to a good, honest relationship with the Championship.

The temptation to pursue a more attractive younger model can wait.



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