Loyalty in modern day football is seemingly a trait only offered by the fans, as managers and players jump ship or are pushed off the plank on an alarmingly regular basis.
A classic example of this is Tony Pulis and his dismissal as manager of Stoke City back in May. The Welshman spent ten years in charge of the Britannia Stadium outfit over two spells, and was the driving force behind the Potters’ rise to Premier League stability.
In his first spell at the club between 2002 and 2005, Pulis ensured Stoke avoided relegation from Division 1, while in his second tenure between 2006 and 2013 he led the outfit to the Premier League.
Stoke became a solid Premier League club under the Welshman’s guidance, finishing consistently in mid-table over the course of five years. Pulis was the first manager to lead the club to an FA Cup final, and also had the side playing in European football.
Stagnation at the club and ever-increasing ambitions led to Pulis’ departure last year, but chairman Peter Coates may yet regret that decision in the long run.
Mark Hughes has taken over at the club this season, and tried to change Stoke’s style of play. To date the former Manchester City boss has had limited success, with the Potters looking destined to be there or thereabouts in the relegation battle come the end of the season.
Pulis has since went on to take on one of the Premier League’s toughest jobs, and is excelling in his task to keep Crystal Palace in the top flight.
A meeting of his old club and new one yesterday saw an emotional afternoon for the 56-year-old, but he will have enjoyed Palace’s 1-0 win over Stoke at Selhurst Park.
These invaluable three points have lifted Palace out of the bottom three to 16th place. The victory means that the London side are only two points behind Stoke on the table, and Pulis’ new side have now won more games than his former employers this term.
Since taking the reigns at the club on November 23rd, Pulis has been in charge of ten Premier League games, winning four, drawing won and losing five. The defeats have come at the hands of teams at the top of the table such as Manchester City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham, and Palace have looked like a much more rounded side since the Welshman’s introduction.
If the results over the last six games were taken into consideration, Palace’s form would see them sitting in mid-table, while Stoke have only won one game in this period and would dwell in 18th.
For the Selhurst Park faithful, staying in the Premier League is now an achievable goal. With some astute signings in January there is no reason that the London club cannot escape the bottom three, with the players visibly more confident under Pulis.
Stoke’s reasons for replacing Pulis, namely progression and the boost a fresh approach can bring, seem to be backfiring on the club. Although the former boss did not have his side playing the most attractive of football, Stoke were always difficult to beat and rarely in threat of being dragged into the relegation battle.
Hughes is an experienced manager but he has his work cut out to salvage Stoke’s season. At the end of the campaign, should Pulis lead Palace to a higher position that the Potters end up in, it should not be a real surprise.