Tony Pulis Interview with OLBG

Updated: 83

Exclusive Interview with Tony Pulis: Leicester City WILL win promotion despite patchy form, expectation on Leeds players might have hampered their performances, ‘The majority of football’ wanted Sunderland to struggle this season

Tony Pulis Interview with OLBG
Steve Madgwick Editor-In-Chief

Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

Exclusive Interview with Tony Pulis

Pulis began his career in football as a defender, playing for prominent teams like Bristol Rovers, Newport County, AFC Bournemouth, and Gillingham. His managerial acumen surfaced early when he received his FA coaching badge at 19 and the coveted UEFA 'A' licence at 21, becoming one of the youngest professionals to achieve this milestone. He took his first steps into management as a player/coach and assistant to Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth.

Management at Gillingham, Bristol City, and Portsmouth: 

After ascending to the managerial position at Bournemouth, Pulis soon transited to Gillingham. His tenures at Bristol City and Portsmouth, however, were unsuccessful stints, warranting his move to Stoke City in 2002.

Managerial Breakthrough at Stoke City

As Stoke City manager, Pulis helped avoid relegation and finally propelled the team to the Premier League in the 2007–08 season. He created history when he guided Stoke to their first FA Cup Final in the 2010–11 season.

Management at Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion

Following his stint at Stoke City, Pulis managed Crystal Palace, transforming their fate and earning him the Premier League Manager of the Season award in 2013–14. He later joined West Bromwich Albion in January 2015, where he held his post until 2017.

Pulis at Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday

Pulis managed Middlesbrough from Boxing Day 2017 to May 2019. He returned to management in November 2020 as manager of Sheffield Wednesday, although his tenure was cut short after just 10 games.

Legacy and Influence:

Despite ups and downs, Pulis has left an indelible impact on football management. His passion for the game blended with his strategic insight has proven to enhance team performance numerous times. His contributions to teams like Stoke City, Crystal Palace, and West Bromwich Albion remain pivotal chapters in the annals of Premier League football.

Interview April 2024

Former Stoke and West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis sat down to discuss the Championship’s nail-biting promotion and relegation battles, his opinion on VAR and why the ‘majority of football’ wanted Sunderland to struggle this season.

How do you view the promotion race? Who will get promoted automatically?

Promotions, Relegations, and the Race for the Top 🏆

With their recent win, they're primed for promotion! But watch out, if they play like Albion, they're sure to conquer Leicester too! 😮 It's a real test of emotional control for the managers. The ones who handle it best, win. 💪

TP - “I think, after their win over WBA on Saturday, they'll go up. That will give them the impetus they need to finish in one of the automatic promotion positions.

Albeit if Southampton play like Albion did, then they will beat Leicester. There's no doubt about that. 

“The managers fighting for promotion or relegation at this time of the season have got make sure they manage themselves and control their emotions first and foremost. The ones that can do that best will succeed. 

“I really think that coping with this is period of the season is why managers get paid the money they do.”

What’s caused a drop-off in form from Leeds United?

Is the Pressure Too Much for Leeds' Squad? Time for Farke to take a hard look! ⚽️

😮 Shocked by Leeds' poor run. Can Farke's squad perform under the intense fans' expectations? ⚽️ Pressure might be affecting our boys negatively

TP - “I've been very surprised that Leeds dropped off, they've had a poor run of results and it shocked me.

“It's going to be interesting to see how Daniel Farke and those players react. The expectation at Leeds with those supporters is massive and you've got to have a group of players that can play under that type of pressure if you want to win promotion.

“Whether Daniel thinks he's got that type of player to perform under pressure, I don't know. 

It might be a case where the players have taken a backwards step because the pressure has got to them.”

Are Ipswich Town one of the best-promoted clubs in Championship history?

A Nod to Ipswich's Success

🎉Kudos to Kieran McKenna at Ipswich ⚽ and the new owners! Massive respect for signing Kieffer Moore 💪- a desire of many in the EFL Championship. Compliments to Mark Ashton & everyone working hard at the club. Ipswich & Norwich City are backed by unerring support.💙

TP - “No, they're not. You had Swansea under John Toshack, Wimbledon were great under Dave Bassett, Watford went through the leagues under Graham Taylor.

Kieran McKenna has done a great job at Ipswich but there are a lot of other managers who have done it a lot better.

“He has done a fabulous job, mind you. They've got new owners who are backing McKenna and signing Kieffer Moore must've cost good money despite only being on loan. Most of the EFL Championship would have wanted him!

“Mark Ashton is a good lad, too, I know Mark. Everyone at the football club has pulled in the right direction.

“It's a fabulous club both they and Norwich City are so well supported.”

Who do you think will make the play-offs? WBA, Norwich, Hull, Middlesbrough and Coventry in the running…

Norwich Triumph Illustrates Need for Patience in Management

🗣️"Norwich nailed it! ⚽️💪Hull City and Middlesbrough will miss out. Play the long game, trust the process & give managers time to implement their vision 👀🔄 Success doesn't come overnight!"

TP - “Norwich have done enough, it will be Norwich, meaning the likes of Hull City and Middlesbrough will miss out. I've liked the fact that Norwich City gave David Wagner time to turn things around. 

“The time they're given now isn't long enough. I remember speaking to an experienced manager who said you need the first year to assess what's going on, the second year to implement the changes needed and you must be successful in the third year you'll get the sack. That was several years ago, too, and things are just getting worse.

“That's the way the world is with things like social media, Chairmen need to be more trustworthy and diligent than some of them are.”

Should Liam Rosenior be under pressure if Hull fail to reach the play-offs?

Praise for Rising Star Manager Liam Rosenior and Acun Ilıcalı

TP - “Liam Rosenior has done a fabulous job, but so has Acun Ilıcalı in terms of backing him. I think they'll just miss out this year, though, so I hope they've got a good relationship.

“I think they'll be back next year, after adding one or two others. I hope Rosenior will be given an even better opportunity to get them up next year. 

“But he will be under pressure next season given the money that they've spent. 

I do think he's a top young manager. He's a little bit inexperienced but will be learning as he goes along.”

As such an experienced football man, what have you made of Sunderland’s operations? From Tony Mowbray to Michael Beale and now a caretaker…

The Bungled Play Behind Sacking a Great Coach

⚠️ The real game's behind the scenes! Getting rid of Tony Mowbray was a fumble by the Sunderland owners 🤦‍♂️ Experience is non-negotiable. Were they even thinking? 🤔 the majority of football community agreed, it was a bad move!

TP - “There's a lot of people behind the scenes who aren't football people and they make unbelievably bad decisions.

“What the hell were they up to getting rid of Tony Mowbray? He's a staunch football man who knows how to build a winning team. When they sacked him, the majority of football wanted Sunderland to struggle because Tony Mowbray did not deserve it.

“The biggest mistake owners make is not appointing an experienced man behind the scenes. If Sunderland had an experienced football manager or someone who had been in the game for a long time behind the scenes, they would have told Kyril Louis-Dreyfus that was an absolutely ridiculous decision to get rid of Tony Mowbray.”

How good in your opinion is Jack Clarke?

Jack Clarke: The Game Changer in Football.

⚽️🔑 Key to winning matches is a player who can break through rock-solid defences. Jack Clarke is that game changer. Watched him at Leeds, see him maturing & getting stronger. 🌟🚀 Future looks Premier League bright, if Sunderland's willing to deal! 📈

TP - “In a football team, there are certain things that you need to have in order to be successful. One of those things is a player that will take defenders on because defences are so well organised, so you need someone to create space and open doors. Jack Clarke is one of those players.

“I watched him at Leeds and I think he's now more mature and is a lot stronger. He'll have a very good future but I don't know if Sunderland will want to sell him to a Premier League team this summer. I don't see why he can't play in the Premier League as he's a promising and exciting player.”

What have you made of Plymouth’s season? Started brightly but ended badly for Ian Foster…

Former Manager Shares Fond Memories of Plymouth FC

😊 Had a blast at Plymouth! Big ups to the chairman 👏. Fans, you're magnificent! 🙌 Really hope they don't get relegated.

TP - “I had a great time at Plymouth, I'll go back next year hopefully.  The chairman has done a great job and they were very unfortunate to lose Steven Schumacher as everything was balanced quite well.

“They're going to have to pull up some trees to stay up, but their supporters are absolutely magnificent. They took two-and-a-half thousand to Stoke on Saturday.

“I remember my first game managing them, it was against Southampton in the Championship when Harry Redknapp was managing them. About three or four thousand Plymouth fans filled the whole end behind the goal and it was an eye-opener for me. Dave Kemp encouraged me to join the club there as I didn't know much about them.

“I will be really disappointed if they get relegated because the chairman has invested good money and the local people around the club are good people.”

Have Birmingham City got carried away with their new stadium plans? They’re not safe yet. 

Team Performance Over Stadium Size! 🏆📣

💸👥Owners with deep pockets are great, but it's the ⚽️team performance that pulls crowds. Win matches first, build stadiums second! 🏟️🎉

TP - “They've got rich owners there now and it sounds as if they want to be progressive. However, you can have the best stadium in the world but if your team is not winning matches, you're not going to fill it. 

“Tom Brady and the owners' priority has to be staying up first. After staying up, they need to look at strengthening the team on the pitch so they can stabilise in the Championship.

“Talk of building stadiums and doing this or that is good, and I'm sure the supporters are excited, but if you ask the majority of supporters will want the team to be sorted out before anything else.”

Another of your former clubs in Sheffield Wednesday down there…

High Praise to Hillsborough & Danny Rohl

👥New players imported and 💼Chairman stays unsung hero! Danny Rohl shines 💫, worthy Manager of the Year candidate! Hillsborough's incredible energy surge ⚡️from the fans! D-Day for Albion⛔️ this Saturday!

TP - “They've brought in quite a few players but the Chairman will get no credit despite stumping up the money.

“Danny Rohl is absolutely fantastic too, he's done really well. Without a doubt, he'd be one of the choices for manager of the year if he kept them up.

“Hillsborough was like a ghost town when I managed them but look at the energy their supporters give them. It's one of the best-supported teams in this country. 

“Albion will have a very tough game against on them Saturday.”

Who do you think will get relegated from the Championship?

TP - “It will be a miracle if Huddersfield stay up. They can still do it but I would be amazed. That final spot could be between three or four teams, including Sheffield Wednesday, Plymouth, Blackburn and QPR. 

“I think Stoke have done enough to survive.”

Reaction to Portsmouth winning promotion to the Championship? 

Celebrating Pompey Pride and Embracing Future Challenges

Exceptional fans, blue shirts as far as the eye can see 🌊, pride in Portsmouth is unmatched💙. Hats off to Mousinho & staff 🙌. The next challenge: emulate Ipswich Town ⚽️👀.

TP - “I'm delighted for Pompey, I really enjoyed being there and the supporters are fantastic. 

“You drive into the City and you don't see anything else other than blue shirts! It's a special area, they are so proud to be from Portsmouth. 

“I enjoyed that place. John Mousinho has done a fantastic job but you shouldn't forget the backroom staff there, too. He's got a massive challenge on his hands next year, though, they need to look at Ipswich Town and try to and replicate what have done if possible.”

How tricky is it to work with problematic ownership? Do you admire the jobs Shaun Maloney and Ruben Selles have done at Wigan and Reading? 

A Football Manager's Guide to Success 🥅🏆

⚽️💼 Managers, focus on the goal - WINNING! 🏆 Forget distractions and politics, turn whatever hand you've got into a winning one 🎲 Shout out to those who achieve this regardless of style! 👏 Is it improving? Who knows...

TP - “My advice to managers of those clubs is to focus on winning games on a Saturday. If you get too wrapped up in stuff going on behind the scenes, it can distract you from winning matches and that's what matters most for the fans, the team and the town.

“I understand it's hard as cuts to the team affect their position but whatever hand you're dealt with, you've got to find a way to win on Saturday because you won't stay in a job if not, regardless of what's going on upstairs. 

“Those two lads deserve a hell of a lot of credit for the jobs that they have done, regardless of how they have done it. Forget style, whether it's playing out from the back or going long from the goalkeeper, management is about finding a way to win. 

“It's great for those football clubs but will it improve? I really don't know.”

How have Stoke gone from a top-half Premier League finish to relegation battles in the Championship?

The True Strength of Stoke City: Team Unity over Best Players 🏆🤝

⚽ Stoke's strength doesn't lie solely in signing the best players, but building a united team 💪🤝 Respect to Jon Walters and Mama Sidibe, monuments of unselfish hard work. It's not about running, it's about working together!

TP - “Stoke have one of the best ownership groups in English football. Steven will get the chance to be successful, as all the managers before him had. None of them come out of the club criticising the owners. 

“The problem has been behind the scenes regarding their recruitment. It's not always about signing the best players, it's about building a strong team and the best players aren't always included in the most successful teams. 

“I've spoken to Jonathan Walters and I've got a lot of respect for him. He's a good example of what Stoke needs to recruit as we had Jon or Mamady Sidibe behind Ricardo Fuller, whose strength was not running around! 

“You need to sign players that suit the team as Jon and Mama were both unselfish and would never stop working.”

What have you made of Wrexham's progress? How high can they go?

Highlighting the Steves' Success and Future Challenges at the North Wales Club.

The spotlight isn't for everyone 😅🎥 Props to Steve Parkinson & Steve Parkin for making waves at the club 🌊👏 Next season awaits... A formidable challenge and crucial investment! 💪🏼💰 Let's make North Wales proud! 🏴🙌

TP - “The cameras and documentary would not suit me!

“Steve Parkinson and Steve Parkin have done brilliantly, they've rode the success and made the most of everything that's going on around the club.

“Next season will be a different challenge, though, and the investment is very important for them at this stage but they've done fantastically. Having a club in North Wales doing well is magnificent for the country.

Did you manage to rattle Arsene Wenger or get in his head? Why did he always appear wound up by Stoke?

Stoke's Remarkable Triumphs Over Arsenal: A Nod to Wenger's Legacy.

Celebrating the tradition of victory with Stoke! 🥳 Despite being the unexpected winners, we smashed it every time Arsenal came visiting! 🏰⚽️Our games transformed the city's atmosphere.🎉 Though kudos to Wenger being one of Arsenal's greatest!👏🎩

TP - “We kept beating them and it wasn't meant to happen! 

“When they came to Stoke, we seemed to have their number. They didn't enjoy it and we felt that when they made a couple of comments which wound people in Stoke up.

“When we received the fixture list, it was one of those games that we would always look forward to and the atmosphere would be fantastic.

“Although I have to say, Arsene Wenger must be looked upon as one of the greatest Arsenal managers in lots of ways.”

Can you shed any light on the incident with James Beattie? A few former pros have discussed this since retiring. 

TP - “What I will say about James Beattie is the fact that he kept us up alongside Matthew Etherington. They were the difference between finishing in the bottom four and finishing in mid-table.” 

Peter Crouch has previously gone on board to joke that Charlie Adam was somewhat of a teacher's pet at Stoke and was 'parched.' What's your reaction to this?

Tony Pulis Reflects on the Impact of Peter Crouch at Stoke City

🥅⚽️ Signing Peter Crouch was a challenge, but a decision worth every penny! His talent kept us in the Premier League! Not just a fantastic player but also a brilliant character, Crouchy took us to another level! 🏆

TP - “Peter Crouch was one of the only players I struggled to sign as he was 28 or 29 and wanted a four-year contract. Tottenham were also going to help us get the wages we wanted him to be on at Stoke. 

“Peter Coates rang me, though, and said that people were concerned about the return we would get from him. But I guaranteed that he would keep us in the Premier League and, therefore, that would be worth hundreds of millions. Peter went 'Tony, that's all I need to know!'

“Peter is what you see he is, a fantastic character and human being. He had been big-time previously having played for England and Tottenham, but he mixed in with our lads brilliantly and took us to another level.

“My wife watches the podcast more than I do but he and Abbey Clancey are brilliant, like chalk and cheese but great value!”

Does he think he'd be able to manage his Stoke side in today's game, or are referees too soft?

TP - “When VAR was brought in, it was for clear and obvious mistakes. It's ridiculous what they're doing as someone needs to knock on the door and tell referees 'It's not about toenails or the width of someone's nose!' They're cancelling goals for the sake of it.”

How do you look back on your time at WBA? You inherited a mess and the club has not finished higher since your departure. 

Overcoming Difficulties at West Brom: A Surprising Journey

🏟️ Surviving the storm at West Brom. 🌩️ Some rocky times, unexpected players 🌟, and a firm structure kept us afloat. You can't force style mismatches to sync 🚫, but we found a way. Forever grateful to the Brom family. 💪⚽

TP - "I enjoyed my time at West Brom. The group of players was probably the most difficult that I initially inherited. We were in a right mess, there was no direction as certain people were bringing players in that didn't suit Alan Irvine at the time.

“It was like going into a shop, buying yellow trousers and a pink tie but trying to convince people it works. It doesn't. That first year was really thought and if it wasn't for Saido Berahino's goals, we could have gone down. He came up with some great goals for us. 

“Jeremy Peace was always protective of Albion and knew how to play his cards. The first meeting we had, he said 'I will not interfere, just get on with it. I will do what I can to help.' After bad results, he'd ring up to say I was still trying to do the right things. He also had Mark Jenkins and Richard Garlick behind him who were solid people.

“It's a really good football club”

How do you view the career of Saido Berahino? He was ahead of Harry Kane in the England team at one point…

The Struggles of Saido: A Closer Look

🗣️ "Saido, talented yet complex, struggled with insecurities and bad advice. After the Tottenham deal fell through, his performance suffered. 😞 He had potential, but lacked the guidance he needed. It's sad to see talent wasted. 💔 If only he could rewind time."

TP - “Saido was a complicated character. Everybody thought he had a lot of bravado but he was very insecure. I think the situation with Tottenham, where it looked like he would go but it broke down, really broke him in a number of respects. 

“He then didn't do a pre-season, he messed around and was badly advised. Albion had a chairman in Jeremy Peace that wouldn't give a damn about anything else other than West Bromwich Albion and there were certain things that had to be in place if Saido was to leave and they weren't.

“He was a very inexperienced boy, who had a lot of people in his ear advising him to do certain things. He never got back to the level he was at and it's sad because he had no mentors and, although I got on well with him, he probably saw me as working on behalf of Jeremy Peace. 

By the time he realised the Tottenham move was off, he'd lost his fitness, sharpness and he dropped off a gear or two mentally. He was extraordinary for us over the Christmas I joined and I thought he was a really nice lad. 

“If he had his time again, he would go about it differently. 

Having been at most games during a really enjoyable 2016/17 campaign, what went wrong the following year? 

The Ups and Downs of My Time at Albion

⚽ Had a rollercoaster of an experience at #Albion. 🏋️‍♂️Worked with a great squad, saw top players come and go, enjoyed great leadership. Though some losses hurt us in 2017, my Albion journey was unforgettable! Missteps were made (Hello Pardew! 🙃), but through it all, wouldn't trade my time here for anything. 🙌

TP - “I was devastated when he didn't finish eighth on the last day in 2017. We had a good team, though, with a good group of players who worked together and played smashing football.

“We added Chadli who was a top player, but the problem with him was, again, people in his ear telling him he could make more money elsewhere after receiving other offers. He didn't come to pre-season in Austria and lost his way. 

“I enjoyed being at Albion. A lot of people didn't like Jeremy Peace but him, Mark Jenkins, and Richard Garlick made me feel very comfortable. Looking back at my management career, as soon as negativity with the people above me creeps in, I drop off.

“I liked John Williams when he came in, he was a very likeable man who was honest and hard-working. But we lost Mark Jenkins and Richard Garlick that summer in 2017 and I also lost David Kemp who went to America. I lost that little bit of energy that I needed as a manager to get the best results possible. 

“They should have given Gary Megson the job. He knew exactly what the team was about. He had done pre-season with me so knew the characters, the fans loved him and he got two great results at Tottenham and Newcastle, so I said to John Williams 'Give him the job' but they never took any notice.

“They then made a very poor decision (Giving Pardew the job over Megson). It summed up the way things were behind the scenes. Whether they thought I was saying it because Gary is my mate, I don't know, but I was saying it for the football club's best interest.

“I really really, enjoyed my time at Albion, even if I got a bit of stick from supporters at times!”

What was your experience of Mr Lai?

TP - “I have to say, Mr Lai was really good with me despite the communication barrier. I always thought he was doing the right thing for Albion. 

“I don't know how things played out with John Williams and Mr Lai afterwards, but I do think they would consider it a mistake not to give Gary Megson the job.”

Thoughts on the current team and Carlos Corberan? 

TP - “I think Carlos Corberan did a great job at Huddersfield and is a bit like Marcelo Bielsa. He's very dedicated to his job and most likely doesn't think about anything other than winning the next game on a Saturday or Tuesday.

“I've met him a couple of times and think he's an honest and genuine lad, who's done a fabulous job at the club.

“They'll finish in the top six for sure and then it's a toss of a coin whether they go up or not.”

No Comments

There are no comments here. Be the first to comment...

Keep Reading

Vladimír Šmicer Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 11

Vladimír Šmicer Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Vladimir Smicer exclusive interview: Florian Wirtz could be next Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool, Arne Slot is nothing like Jurgen Klopp, Mohamed Salah could follow Cristiano Ronaldo, we couldn’t walk after wild trophy celebrations led by Jamie Carragher

Continue Reading

Pedro Mendes Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 7

Pedro Mendes Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Pedro Mendes exclusive interview: Cristiano Ronaldo is more complete than Lionel Messi, I’m not surprised to see Bruno Fernandes wanting Man Utd exit, I still fear over future brain injuries after Ben Thatcher’s elbow

Continue Reading

By using this site you confirm you are 18+ and consent to our use of cookies and processing of personal data as set out in our Privacy Policy
Got it!