For a man who has hardly been coaching the most illustrious teams the Premier League has to offer throughout his time as a manager, Tony Pulis has certainly done a great deal in terms of splitting public opinion within the English footballing community.
The constant cap-wearing manager – for good or for bad – has seemingly gone down as one of the most talked about coaches the nation has paid witness two in the last five years or so.
Pulis has become notorious for turning seemingly average back-fours into some of the most formidable defensives in the league. He takes footballing concepts of organisation, strength and resilience to a whole new level – and as the Welshman is famously yet to see his respective side relegated from the Premier League – such a reputation has subsequently been commended by many within the game.
As there are also those who wish he never even turned up in the Premier League however – with what several have labelled to be a somewhat ‘anti-football’ approach – Tony Pulis isn’t exactly welcomed by all quarters of the nation’s footballing scene either.
Nonetheless, for his ability to seemingly split public opinion straight down the middle, the current West Brom manager raises a series of important questions as to how such an impact can affect the future of the English game.
Does the former Stoke City and Crystal Palace man deserve to be credited as one of the best British managers around at the moment, or has Tony Pulis simply received too much praise from those who simply don’t understand the negative consequences that his tactics have developed in the Premier League?
For one thing, the 57-year-old coach is certainly no push-over. Since taking over at the Hawthorns earlier this season, Pulis is well on his way to transforming West Brom from a weak and vulnerable outfit who couldn’t play a great deal of technical football, to a mean and determined team, who admittedly are still lacking in the technical department.
The Baggies nevertheless look to have escaped the once seemingly inevitable threat of relegation this season, which really is an achievement on their manager’s part. If you are a chairman and your only priority for your club is to stay in the top-flight – then Tony Pulis will be almost guaranteed to bring about such desired results.
However, with the addition of men like Pulis in the Premier League, English football has seemingly forgotten what the sport is meant to be all about. He rather shamelessly sacrifices the necessity to entertain the fans with impressive plays and easy-on-the-eye movement from his players across the pitch. Any set of opposing fans who witnesses their respective side come up against an outfit led by the former Stoke man invariably leave disappointed from the match.
Whilst he may prove affective at getting the required results to stay in the Premier League, his games are a complete non-event on most occasions. Very few goals end up being scored, his players often revert to physical, long-ball tactics – and whilst his defensive organisation really does manage to hold up well – Pulis teams lack creativity, technical skill, and completely lack entertainment value nine times out of ten.
The English international game has subsequently suffered through this anti-football approach in the Premier League. Whilst such an outcome is hardly the fault of Tony Pulis alone, English players seem completely inept at playing the ball on the floor with precision and urgency – which when compared with our European counterparts in Spain and Germany – has left the nation’s international game in a somewhat embarrassing place right now.
Whilst the gap between the have’s and the have not’s is certainly forcing managers such as Pulis to become more desperate in their attempts for success, his overall approach ultimately has no real excuse when the value of football as an entertaining spectacle is taken into full consideration.