Steady as a rock West Brom boss Tony Pulis is the latest to feature in our Manager Files series as we look at the tactics, mannerisms, demeanour and touchline antics of the game’s top bosses.
Club tracksuit with TP initials on, pristine white trainers and that ubiquitous baseball cap. There are few more recognisable faces on the touchline than Tony Pulis, one of a select band of managers to have reached the 1000 matches landmark. He may not be able to get into Claridge’s dressing like he does but there’s precious little this man doesn’t know about the rigours of top level management.
A pragmatic style that rarely enthralls but is generally effective, Pulis is regarded in some circles as one of the game’s few remaining tactical dinosaurs. But you cut your cloth according to your means and in the increasingly cutthroat world of football management – where results are everything – it says plenty that Pulis has rarely been out of work over the past decade. Never relegated as a player, coach or manager, Pulis lined his side up with a 4-2-3-1 formation at Anfield that resembled 4-5-1 when not in possession. However he had to switch things up when Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a lead after just 20 minutes. In the event the Baggies ended up losing 2-1 and could have no complaints after being outplayed by the Reds for long spells.
There was genuine animosity on the touchline during West Brom’s last match at Anfield with Jurgen Klopp and Pulis exchanging barbs through gritted teeth on that occasion after Klopp had derided Pulis for only playing ‘long balls’. Indeed the pair failed to even shake hands following that 2-2 draw but there was a much more serene and respectful vibe on Saturday. Pulis, a massive fan of Napoleon, barked his orders aggressively from the sidelines like a French military leader but alas this was one battle they could not win.
What they said
Pulis was fulsome in his praise of Liverpool post-match. “Liverpool are as good as anything we have played against. They are probably the most difficult test we have had so far. They’ve spent what, £200million on those three or four front players? It’s not bad is it?
“Their movement is outstanding. Their rotation around the ball, and around those forward players, is excellent, and their interchanging is impressive. They are a very good side and they’ve got a chance this year.”
After their infamous bust up last December Pulis kept a dignified silence ahead of this one and made a point of shaking hands with his German counterpart after the game. Those expecting more fireworks in the dugout on Merseyside were left disappointed.
Pulis was at loggerheads with the West Brom hierarchy last month and looked to be on the way out of the club after a thinly-veiled dig at their summer recruitment efforts. However things seem to have calmed down a lot and the fact that the Baggies were unbeaten in four matches before Saturday certainly helped in that regard. His team are thirteenth in the table and Pulis is currently a 14/1 shot to become the next Premier League manager to leave his post.