This is how pundits, former players, and journalists have reacted to Tony Pulis' appointment as Sheffield Wednesday boss

It’s safe to say that Tony Pulis’ appointment as Sheffield Wednesday manager has already proven to be a divisive decision among supporters.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 1:16 pm
Tony Pulis (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

While it is hard to deny his credentials as a Championship veteran and a relegation escapologist, the Welshman’s reputation is that of a long-ball merchant whose pragmatic tactical approach often comes at the cost of entertaining football.

But with Wednesday second-bottom in the second tier at the moment, there's a strong argument to be made in favour of them opting to bring in a boss who can carve out results by any means necessary, even if that does lead to some unrest from expectant fans.

In short, Pulis will arrive at Hillsborough swinging a double-edged sword, and that’s a point emphasised by some of the pundit and media reaction we have seen in the wake of his appointment.

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Speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield, for example, former Wednesday boss Brian Laws was quick to outline the pragmatism that the former Middlesbrough manager will bring to the Owls.

“I think it’s a sensible appointment,” he said. “I know people are… and I’ve heard many supporters concerned, thinking, well, he’s a long-ball tactician.

"I know Tony quite well. I’ve watched a lot of his training sessions as well. I’ve worked alongside him. One thing you’re going to get from Tony, he’s a seasonal winner, in that he knows how to win games. And he will work with the tools that he has available to him. Now, if he’s got those tools currently and he can’t make changes, he’ll work best with them. He won’t change them dramatically.

“What he will do, he’s very much a disciplinarian. He’ll make sure that they are marshalled, they’ve got a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and every man will know his role within that football club and on the pitch. And I think, moving forward, Tony will do a terrific job for the club.

“You’ve got to give the guy an opportunity and a chance. People put his name to long-ball tactics but there’s more to him than that. He is a really good tactician, he knows the game immensely well. He’s got over 1,000 games under his belt. And he’s won promotions – nobody complained when they were winning games and getting promotions. I think you’ve got to give the guy a real opportunity. Get behind him, because I think he’s a solid, solid acquisition for the football club.

“He won’t be messed about. He will stand up and be counted and he will want to be in charge that is for sure. He will not go in as second-fiddle. He will make sure that he’s in charge and he will be making decisions.

“He loves a challenge. He loves to prove people wrong. I think that’s always been in his mantra, it’s how he works. He always feels like he’s got something to prove and he loves doing it, time and time again. For me, I’m looking forward to him proving people wrong.”

Likewise, former Owls defender Lewis Buxton, who played under Pulis at Stoke City, has suggested that fans must give the new manager time before coming to a decision over his style of play.

Speaking to BBC journalist Rob Staton, he said: “First and foremost, they [Wednesday] are getting a lot of knowledge.

"I know from just a quick look on Instagram and things like that people have got the perception that it’s not going to be entertaining football, but I think he gets less credit than he deserves. [At Stoke] they played a lot of good football. It wasn’t just Rory Delap throwing in from distance and getting a flick on.

"You’re going to get a manager that’s very well-organised defensively, that’s always his priority. As a player, going in on the first day, you know he’s going to expect you to give everything you’ve got.

"From a man-management side, he’s pretty honest. As a player that’s all you want. I think his man-management is very good.”

Not everybody is as optimistic about Pulis’ arrival though. Outspoken talkSPORT pundit Simon Jordan has suggested that the appointment is an uninspired one on the club’s part, and has argued that it is unlikely the new boss can get much more out of this current Owls squad than Garry Monk did.

"I don’t think he pulled up trees at Middlesbrough but I do think that some of the work that he did at Stoke and Palace was of the highest quality,” he said.

“It’s not an inspiring decision but it’s a decision based upon perhaps where Sheffield Wednesday are at this moment in time, which is they’re struggling at the bottom of the league because of the points docking.

“I don’t know what Tony Pulis would have said to the owner that would have convinced him that he’s a better solution than Garry Monk. I’m not a huge admirer of Garry Monk’s either.

"But I look at Tony Pulis and think, okay, you know what you’re going to get. He’s relatively safe. I don’t think you’re going to get an easy ride with him as an owner."

As is often the case with such a polarising decision, the reality of what Pulis’ tenure will mean for Wednesday probably lies somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of opinion.

Speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter and avid Middlesbrough supporter Steve Crossman gave a suitably measured appraisal of his side’s former boss.

“The way I would feel about it as a fan depends entirely on where the clubs currently sits,” he said.

"Now, we all know where Sheffield Wednesday currently sit. Realistically, there’s absolutely no chance that Wednesday are going to be going for promotion this season because of what’s already happened to them.

"I think if you’re a Wednesday fan, you would accept the fact that right now, the upper bound of your season might be mid-table – then you’re fine. There’s just no way you’re going to be in a relegation battle with Tony Pulis.

"Right now, where Wednesday are in November 2020, it’s a great appointment.

"It might not be that much fun, but he’ll get you where you want to be, for now at least.”