Tony Pulis played it his way until the very end. What he has achieved at Stoke City should not go unnoticed and his sacking should be very worrying for other Premier League managers.
Stoke have never really been anything more than a Championship team but he has made them into Premier League fighters.
Always preferring the 'long-ball' strategy Pulis has worked his team, and thus his transfers, around this method. He prefers to look at big players who have a physical presence on and off the ball.
But, having a physical presence does not make this strategy work. This is where Pulis comes into his element. He has had to motivate his players to such an extent that they go out believing it is possible to win against the likes of United and City.
Having never had an illustrious playing career Pulis has had to gain the respect of his players from a managerial point of view. We talk about the success of David Moyes on a limited transfer budget and Pulis has had the same success and maybe even a little more. It is much harder to attract players to the Britannia Stadium than to Goodison Park that is for sure and so for Pulis to get Crouch and Adam it shows the respect they have for him as a coach.
His 'long-ball' strategy has recently come under fire being labelled as 'out of date' and 'ineffective' by some. I would like to argue against these notions; two prime examples of this tactic this season are Stoke and also West Ham United. Both teams once again over-performed with West Ham finding a 10th position finish with Stoke at 13th. They must be doing something right.
But how does it work I hear you asking? Simple. A big physical presence up front coupled with fast wingers and then midfielders with an accurate long ball. Stoke have Peter Crouch to West Ham's Andy Carroll, arguably two of the finest headers of the ball in the league, and they have a constant supply of high balls from Charlie Adam and Matt Jarvis respectively, two great passers of the ball.
Either the striker takes it down to hold up play or looks to build on the attack by finding a man or going alone himself.
But there is another way in which Pulis will be remembered. The long throw-ins. This is exclusive to Pulis' time at Stoke and he seen a lot of goals scored originating from the hands of Rory Delap and more recently Ryan Shotton. An ingenious tactic from which Stoke have reaped the rewards.
Against all the negative press his style of play was receiving Pulis had the audacity and resolve to carry on the way he thought was best. He has changed both the perception of Stoke but also of the Premier League and has also challenged conventional notions of the beautiful game. Stoke do, in their own way, play some great football.
For a team in a league higher than they should be these results are a remarkable achievement for both Pulis and the club.
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