Stoke vs Stoke? Visit of former boss will bring a familiar style

Tony Pulis Interview - 23/02/2014

Tony Pulis returns to his former club with his new side, West Bromwich Albion, adopting similar principles to ensure survival.


Tony Pulis takes his new team to an old team this weekend - with the former very much modelled on the latter.

And that - believe it or not, given Pulis' reputation as a long-ball merchant while on the Potteries - is more of a positive than a negative.

When the Baggies turned to Pulis to rescue their dire campaign, they knew exactly what they were getting, after watching the baseball-capped maestro save Crystal Palace in similar circumstances last term.

His pragmatic, conservationist approach lead Stoke City to the big time, kept them there, and established them as one of the most secure forces in the league.

Excessive criticism of his side's approach detracted from quite what an achievement that was. Mark Hughes might be doing a solid job at the Britannia Stadium, but the foundations laid by Pulis were very easy to build on.

The first thing Pulis did on arrival at The Hawthorns was make his side hard to beat - since his appointment on January 1st, his men have lost just three times in three months. Twice in the last week, to Aston Villa.

He's also drilled them defensively, making sure his side are tighter at the back. In the eight games before his appointment, West Brom conceded 13 times. In Pulis' first eight games at the helm, his side shipped just four goals.

But those were just the basics, and not the extent of Pulis' impact. He also introduced more success going forward - in the eight games before and after his appointment, the Baggies went from a miserly four goals, to notching 13 times.

Even with the 7-0 drubbing of Gateshead discounted, that still reflects a marked improvement.

March hasn't begun in the most auspicious circumstances, but it followed an unbeaten February, which has virtually rubber-stamped survival already.

So much so, a previously decisive looking April fixture list - which contains run-ins with QPR, Leicester, and Palace - has no pressure on it at all.

Instead, the games are likely to cement West Brom in a mid-table position - not far short of Stoke.

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