It was to no great surprise this week when West Brom called time on Tony Pulis’ 3 year reign at The Hawthorns. West Brom have been plummeting since they peaked at 8th in the Premier League in early spring. Ironically it was at that peak that Pulis sowed the seeds of his own downfall- by claiming West Brom fans should be more grateful as 8th in the league was as good as they could ever hope for.
In terms of league position Pulis was probably correct but seriously do any football fans go to bed each night dreaming of 8th place finishes? Having secured the Baggies as a mid table outfit Pulis needed to set ambitions of winning cups and securing European Football, an inability to do that has meant almost every Pulis team since he arrived in the Premier League in 2008 have made it to 40 points and played the remainder of the season in flip-flops (not literally).
Pulis is good at getting clubs to a certain point but lacks the know how to move to the higher echelons of football where the need to get the best out of better grade players is paramount. The other problem of course is if you play dour results based football you need to get results- if you don’t you have nothing to offer and the sack is never far behind.
So what can West Brom fans look forward to with their improved financial position? More of the same if would seem with Sam Allardyce the front runner to take over, ho hmm! Nobody would be surprised by what would be an utterly uninspiring appointment.
Shockingly Allardyce, new West Ham boss David Moyes, new Palace boss Roy Hodgson and Stoke’s Mark Hughes have between them clocked up a staggering 20 Premier League manager jobs.
How many trophies shave they won between them in those 20 jobs- none! How many Champions League qualifications- 1 Moyes’ Everton in 2005 who remain the only English team to fail in the Champions League preliminary qualifiers. And yet like footballing Dr Who’s they keep regenerating over and over again. Advocates of these managers often point out they haven’t been given big jobs forgetting that between them they’ve had failed stints at Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Newcastle not to mention 2 failed tenures as England Manager.
That’s not to say these 4 haven’t had their moments- Allardyce brought a level of football to Bolton not seen since the 1950s whilst Moyes kept finishing 5th with Everton, Hughes kept Blackburn in the top half of the Premier League and Hodgson took Fulham to the UEFA Cup final. But all these relative successes occurred some time ago, won the manager a bigger job in which they failed and yet they keep coming back again and again.
The obvious reason they keep getting more jobs is they keep sides up, barring of course Moyes time at Sunderland and Hughes at QPR. But is finishing 17th really an achievement, if Allardyce does go to West Brom it’ll be these 4 fire fighters slugging it out to avoid the drop with the likelihood of more than 1 going down.
Many people in football, most vocally Allardyce and Harry Redknapp complain that young British managers don’t get a chance in the big time anymore and blame the influx of foreign managers. Yet it seems obvious that the constant recycling of this older generation of British managers is what’s actually stopping young football league managers getting a chance higher up the food-chain.
As for Pulis another job will come soon enough, I’d like to see him try his luck with one of the bigger Championship sides; Forest, Wednesday & Derby all look good fits. But knowing how lacking in imagination Premier League directors have become he’ll probably end up battling it out with Hughes, Moyes, Hodgson and Big Sam, maybe I just won’t bother watching Monday Night Football for a while.