Finally it’s over. Tony Pulis reign as West Brom head coach came to end this morning when John Williams decided it was “in the best interests” of the club to give the Welshman his P45. Albion fans are still questioning why it wasn’t in the best interest of the club a fortnight ago.
Pulis’ sacking has been a long time coming. In fact, there have been certain sections of Albion fans that have never embraced the former Stoke man down The Baggies. From the outside it seemed like he was doing a relatively good job.
But when you dig a little deeper and ask any long-suffering Albion fan and they can roll off numerous reasons why Pulis was never fully welcomed in The Black Country. Now as the dust settles, here’s the top three reasons it all went wrong for Pulis this season.
1. Happy Retirement, Dave
Remember him? Shorts on, regardless of the weather, hands in his pockets. The quiet man didn’t seem to say much but his absence speaks volumes. Tony Pulis said in pre-season when quizzed about the whereabouts of Kemp that he prayed to God that he returns. In the end he decided America and retirement was a better option that the touchline at The Hawthorns. Pulis lost his general and his backroom team was reshuffled with the introduction of Gary Megson.
2. The Missing Scotsman
Talking of generals, Pulis lost his commander in chief when former skipper Darren Fletcher decided to move north and join his former club Stoke City. Many Albion fans dismissed his departure. It was a chance to move on. After all, Fletcher’s form had deteriorated and it looked like his fitness had as well. Whilst the Scot was not pulling up any trees on the pitch, it’s evident that Albion are lacking his influence in the dressing room and on the training pitch. The impact in promoting Jonny Evans to club captain and bringing in the experienced 36 year old Gareth Barry simply hasn’t worked.
3. Static Tactics
Pulis started the season playing 4-5-1 with young Sam Field in the middle and Jay Rodriguez up front on his own. The formation worked with consecutive 1-0 wins to kick-start the season. But as Albion’s new signings came into the club, Pulis’ tried-and-tested formula went out the window. Pulis became the tinkerman. Out went Field, Yacob, McClean and Brunt. While there was no complaints about the quality replacements, it was the formation that was never going to work. It was evident away at Brighton when Pulis first paired Barry, Livermore and Krychowiak together. Albion fans could see it, but Pulis kept sticking with it in the hope something would click. The final straw was against another newly promoted team when Pulis effectively picked 9 defensive-minded players. The hosts were down to 10 men for 30 minutes yet Albion could barely muster a shot on goal.
Who knows? Despite Albion fans falling out of love with the club and voting with their feet, the club is still in a strong position. The position of head coach will have interest from around the world. Hopefully between John Williams, Richard Garlick, Martin Goodman and Nicky Hammond Albion will employ somebody with a bit of flair and imagination going forward. Let’s face it. Anything will be more entertaining than Tony Pulis.