The intricate change Garry Monk made to Hillsborough that should suit Tony Pulis’ Sheffield Wednesday
There are several things Tony Pulis has intimated he wants to change at the club he inherited from Garry Monk. But there’s one intricate detail he can’t alter until next season.
Former Owls boss Monk, who was sacked earlier this month and replaced by Pulis as he was at Middlesbrough in 2017, is well-known as a details man and ahead of the start of this season changed the diameters of the Hillsborough pitch in an attempt to gain an advantage for his side.
And it’s one that may well suit the playing style of Pulis’ side, too, with his Stoke side having famously reduced their pitch at was then known as the Britannia to the smallest-possible size.
Speaking to The Star earlier this season Monk explained that the tweak was made to encourage his side to engage in more contact and be more aggressive more regularly.
He said: “I want my teams to play aggressively and Hillsborough is a huge pitch.
“It was to make it a little bit more so that we feel that contact and work in smaller distances where we can be more aggressive.
“It’s only the widths and it’s not too much, but it’s something I’ve done at every club I’ve been at.”
Pulis’ pitch at Stoke, set as they shook up the Premier League after promotion in 2008, was considerably smaller than that at Hillsborough, which Monk reduced in width by ‘around four metres’.
And it caused much controversy, with Arsenal leading a campaign to have rules over minimum pitch sizes changed as Stoke’s physical style of play paid dividends, along with the threat of Rory Delap’s famous long throw. Arsene Wenger was seen physically measuring out the size of the Britannia pitch himself on one occasion.
Their pitch was measured out by officials at exactly 100m by 64m – the minimum permitted size.
Speaking after a 2008 vote to change the minimum pitch size failed to pass, Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said: “We argued that the rules have been in place for many years and, for many years, clubs have decided on their own pitch size to best suit their playing methods.
“It wasn’t just one club in favour of this proposal, but we put our case very strongly and spoke to a number of clubs beforehand.
“Every club has to play to its own strengths and it is perfectly reasonable to decide the size of your own pitch, within the rules of the game.”
It has been suggested that Callum Paterson’s ability to throw the ball a long way could see him utilised in a similar fashion to Delap a decade or so ago.
Delap, whose long throw became a talking point as Pulis’ Stoke roughed-up several of the Premier Leagues more established sides, laughed the campaign off.
“I think the majority of clubs didn’t want us in the Premier League, so this sounds like the same old story,” he said.
"We aren’t breaking any rules, so I don’t see what the fuss is about. It also means I don’t have to run far to take the throws-ins!”