If I was Crystal Palace Chairman Steve Parish, there’s only one man I would be considering to replace Ian Holloway. Tony Pulis has to be the perfect fit for the club.
The Eagles are currently 19th in the Premier League with only 3 points off their first 8 games. That solitary win came against fellow strugglers Sunderland at home. Watching the second half of their 4-1 drubbing against Fulham on Monday night, it was painfully evident that the side is hugely lacking in belief and confidence. Holloway thought as much, revealing that “this club needs an impetus of energy – but I just feel tired to be honest. I’m worn out.” Holloway is known as one of the most effervescent, lively characters in football. When even he is running low on energy, a change of manager has to be made.
Parish has admitted that “we’ve got a whole group of people who are only really used to the Championship and dropped them into the Premier League. I think we both realized we need someone with more experience at this level.” That’s why I believe Pulis is their man.
Pulis spent five seasons in the Premier League with Stoke City after he guided them to promotion in 07/08. Despite being heavily tipped by bookies and pundits alike to be relegated in their first season back in the top flight, Stoke have managed to survive in the top flight without really being involved in any serious relegation trouble. Pulis’s blueprint at Stoke was about steady progression – gradually improving year on year.
The peak of his managerial reign at the Potters was thrashing Bolton 5-0 in the 2011 FA Cup Semi-Finals and consequently reaching the FA Cup Final for the first time in the club’s history. Despite losing to big spenders Man City 1-0, Stoke qualified for the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League. Potters chairman Peter Coates described Pulis as Stoke City’ greatest ever manager.
Of course Pulis attracted large numbers of critics from managers and supporters alike for his side’s style of play. His Stoke side were undoubtedly direct, aggressive and physical. Arsene Wenger in particular was not a fan, describing it as “rugby”. By the end of Pulis’ tenure, many Stoke fans were becoming increasingly frustrated about the lack of progression, strange substitutions and lack of expansive play they were watching. The hope had been that after consolidating themselves in the Premier League, Pulis would encourage his side to play with more freedom. This never materialized, which ultimately led to him leaving the club by mutual consent last season as the Potters sought a fresh approach from Mark Hughes.
Will Palace fans be concerned about their team’s style of play? Results always win the fans over – and results are exactly what Crystal Palace need at the moment. In all honesty, I doubt whether Sir Alex Ferguson would be able to keep this Palace squad up. Relegation is almost an inevitability. However, Pulis will get the team organized, defending a lot better and they will pick up points. They will at least be harder to beat than they currently are.
Are there any other suitable candidates apart from Pulis? Neil Warnock is a contender, Alex McLeish has been relegated twice, while Roberto Di Matteo may be a good outside bet.
A final point to consider. Tony Pulis has never been relegated when he has managed a club.