Tony Pulis – master of the bottom half

Tony Pulis has begun his West Brom reign in the same vein he has managed his previous two Premier League sides, making them compact and hard to beat and thus far it is working.

A 0-0 draw away to Everton on Monday night was a great point for his side building on their 1-0 home win against Hull City just over a week ago. Pulis has now been in charge of three West Brom games and they are yet to concede a goal, even scoring seven in their FA cup clash with Gateshead.

After these three games it is clear to see Pulis is sticking to his principles and why wouldn’t he be with the results they have given him so far in his Premier League career.


Pulis has earned the right to be considered a survival specialist through his time at Stoke and Crystal Palace. With Stoke he spent five seasons in the Premier League before opting to leave in the summer of 2013. In his time as Stoke manager, his side gained a reputation for being a tough aggressive side with a strong defensive system.

In Tony Pulis’ final season as Stoke manager, they conceded just 45 goals as they finished in 12th place. Champions Manchester United conceded only 2 less that season showing just how strong Stoke were as defensive unit.

Pulis also brought consistency to the Premier League with his Stoke side finishing between 11th and 14th in all five seasons he was in charge. This consistency was seen as boring by the fans towards the end of his spell and ultimately led to his departure from the club.

His style of kicking it long was much ridiculed but extremely effective with Peter Crouch thriving from all the service he received up front in the Pulis system. Under his reign, Stoke City were never a high scoring side, scoring more than 40 goals in only one of his five seasons but they did not need to be free-scoring due to their mean defence.

Last seasons spell at Crystal Palace was arguably his greatest ever as a manager, he may have only been at the club for six months but what he achieved in that time was nothing short of remarkable. He took over at Selhurst Park with the team sitting bottom of the table but quickly changed their system from Ian Holloway’s attacking style to a stubborn 4-4-2 with Mile Jedinak playing an integral role in their upturn.

Before Pulis was given the role, Palace had played 12 games, winning just two, in that period they scored just seven goals, conceding 21 and keeping just two clean sheets. Pulis was in charge of the side for 26 games winning 11 of those, scoring 26 goals and conceding 27, just over a goal a game and keeping a total of ten clean sheets.

The Pulis revival saw Palace move from 20th in November to finish 11th, comfortably clear of the relegation zone. This leap of nine places was the biggest ever Premier League climb in the period from November to the end of the season. A massive achievement for Pulis and Crystal Palace.

Over his career Pulis has been criticised for his style of play but at the end of the day its results that matter and for teams in the bottom half of the table there doesn’t seem to be any manager capable of getting better results than Tony Pulis. Looking at these stats, West Brom fans are sure to be encouraged and confident of staying up this season with Pulis at the helm.

The Author

Cormac O'Shea

Journalism student at DCU, Liverpool fan, author of sports blog "Read The Game" and football enthusiast.

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