Tony Pulis

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Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis Photo.jpg
Pulis in 2009
Personal information
Full name Anthony Richard Pulis
Date of birth (1958-01-16) 16 January 1958 (age 56)
Place of birth Pillgwenlly, Newport, Wales
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Crystal Palace (manager)
Youth career
Newport YMCA
Bristol Rovers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1981 Bristol Rovers 85 (3)
1981–1982 Happy Valley 13 (0)
1982–1984 Bristol Rovers 45 (2)
1984–1986 Newport County 77 (0)
1986–1989 Bournemouth 74 (3)
1989–1990 Gillingham 16 (0)
1990–1992 Bournemouth 16 (1)
Total 326 (9)
Teams managed
1992–1994 Bournemouth
1995–1999 Gillingham
1999–2000 Bristol City
2000 Portsmouth
2002–2005 Stoke City
2005–2006 Plymouth Argyle
2006–2013 Stoke City
2013– Crystal Palace
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Anthony Richard "Tony" Pulis (born 16 January 1958) is a Welsh football manager and former footballer, who is the current manager of Crystal Palace.[1]

Pulis obtained his FA coaching badge at the age of 19, followed by his UEFA 'A' licence aged 21 – making him one of the youngest professional players ever to have obtained the qualification.[2] His son, Anthony, is a professional footballer and played at Stoke. Pulis had a seventeen-year career as a defender where he played for Bristol Rovers, Newport County, Bournemouth and Gillingham. He also had a short spell in Hong Kong with Happy Valley.

Pulis took his first steps into management at Bournemouth, where he was a player/coach and then Harry Redknapp's assistant.[2] He then took control when Redknapp left the club.[2] He then went on to Gillingham before leaving in 1999 after a dispute with chairman Paul Scally. Pulis then had unsuccessful spells at Bristol City and Portsmouth before being appointed manager of Stoke City in 2002. He guided Stoke through a tough 2002–03 season avoiding relegation to the Second Division on the final day of the season. He spent two more seasons with Stoke before being sacked by Stoke's Icelandic board for 'failing to exploit the foreign market'. He spent the 2005–06 season at Plymouth Argyle before returning to Stoke along with Peter Coates. After narrowly missing out on a play-off spot in the 2006–07 season he guided Stoke City to the Premier League in the 2007–08 season by finishing runners-up in the Football League Championship.

With Stoke amongst the favourites for relegation upon their return to the top flight after a 23-year absence Stoke went on to comfortably survive and finished in 12th position. Pulis made history during the 2010–11 season as he guided Stoke to their first FA Cup Final after beating Bolton Wanderers 5–0 in the semi-final. The "Potters" lost the final 1–0 to Manchester City but had the consolation of qualifying for European football. In the UEFA Europa League Stoke were drawn against Croatian side Hajduk Split and after two legs ran out 2–0 winners. After beating FC Thun Stoke were handed a tough group containing Beşiktaş, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv which Stoke managed to progress through finishing in second position. City's reward was a tie against Spanish giants Valencia, but despite putting up a spirited second-leg performance, Stoke went out 2–0 on aggregate. The 2012–13 season saw Stoke make little progress and Pulis left the club by mutual consent on 21 May 2013.

Pulis returned to management on 23 November 2013 joining Crystal Palace on a two-and-a-half-year contract. He guided Palace away from relegation, to their highest Premier League finish of 11th in 2013–14, which earned him the Premier League Manager of the Season award.

Playing career[edit]

Pulis began his career at Bristol Rovers where he joined their school of football excellence in Eastville from Newport YMCA. Pulis cites his time at Eastville as an excellent grounding with his Rovers team mate and friend Ian Holloway also making it in football management. "We learned our trade at a football club with really, really good people who had old fashioned values," I truly believe that it's because of the way we were brought up back then that we have managed to go on and achieve what we have done in the game. "The basic principles were drilled into us, both on and off the pitch. Nothing was given to us and we had to work very, very hard for everything we got."[3]

Pulis made 85 league appearances for the 'Pirates' before leaving to join Hong Kong club Happy Valley AA in 1981. He returned to Rovers the following year and made a further 45 league appearances before moving to his home town club Newport County in 1984. At Newport Pulis became a popular member of the squad and his former County team mate David Giles believes Pulis was always destined for top-level management.[4]

With County struggling financially Harry Redknapp subsequently signed Pulis at Bournemouth he spent three years at Dean Court before joining Gillingham in 1989. However Pulis returned to Bournemouth a year later to take up a player/coach role.[5] He made 16 appearances, scoring one goal, while in this role.[2]

Managerial career[edit]

Bournemouth[edit]

He was promoted to the position of manager in 1992, following Harry Redknapp's decision to leave the club for Premier League side West Ham United. Pulis spent two seasons 1992–93 and 1993–94 at Bournemouth, both seasons saw the Cherries finish in 17th position before moving on.[2]

Gillingham[edit]

He then joined Gillingham in the summer of 1995,[2] whom he managed for a further four seasons, turning a team that had struggled at the very bottom of the Football League into a promotion winning one in his first season, and laying the foundations for the club's eventual elevation to the First Division for the first time in their history. In the 1999 Second Division play-off final the Gills were 2–0 up with less than two minutes left, following goals by the prolific partnership of Robert Taylor and Carl Asaba, only to see Manchester City score twice, the equaliser in injury time, and after that win a penalty shoot-out 3–1.[6] Following the defeat, Pulis was controversially sacked by the club amidst claims of gross misconduct.[2] He later brought a £400,000 court case against Gillingham chairman Paul Scally for unpaid bonuses,[7] which was settled out of court in 2001 for £75,000.[8]

Bristol City[edit]

Pulis was appointed manager of Bristol City in July 1999, prior to the start of the 1999–2000 season.[9] A previous long stint at bitter rivals Bristol Rovers meant that Pulis' appointment was met with mixed reception. He made several reasonably big purchases including Steve Jones and former Rovers player Peter Beadle, but his popularity hit an all time low only six months into his term as manager and when rumours surfaced of a switch to Portsmouth, home fans chanted for him to leave. He moved on to Portsmouth shortly, where Milan Mandarić had recently taken over as chairman.

Portsmouth[edit]

In January 2000, he left Bristol City to become manager of Portsmouth. Pulis took Portsmouth from the bottom three to mid-table but lasted only 10 months in the job before being sacked and being replaced by Steve Claridge in October 2000.[2][10][11]

Stoke City[edit]

He was then out of work for two years, before the resignation of Stoke City's manager Steve Cotterill early into the 2002–03 season led to Pulis being given the job that November.[12] Pulis immediately found himself in a relegation battle and it looked likely that the club would be relegated back to the Second Division, only a year after being promoted. However, Pulis completed the signings of striker Ade Akinbiyi[13] and goalkeeper Mark Crossley,[14] on loan from Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough respectively, who helped turn around the club's bad run. Stoke avoided relegation on the final day of the 2002–03 season with a 1–0 win over Reading at the Britannia Stadium, with Akinbiyi scoring the only goal of the game.[15] Pulis rates Stoke's survival in 2002–03 as one of his best achievements in management.[16]

In the following season, 2003–04, Pulis guided the club to an 11th place finish.[17] Tensions grew between the manager and chairman, Gunnar Gíslason, in the 2004–05 season. Pulis was frustrated with his lack of transfer funds which led to Dave Brammer and Steve Simonsen, both of whom were free agents, being his only significant signings prior to the start of the season. However, Pulis did add Anthony Pulis, his son, and Lewis Buxton to his squad in January 2005.[18][19] The disagreement between Pulis and the club's Icelandic ownership culminated with Pulis parting company with the club on 28 June 2005. He was sacked for "failing to exploit the foreign transfer market" by then chairman Gíslason.[20] Following his dismissal, Pulis bemoaned the club's decision to sell Ade Akinbiyi to Championship rivals Burnley, stating: "We sold our top scorer and never replaced him."[21] Dutch manager Johan Boskamp was named as Pulis' successor on 29 June 2005, only a day after Pulis was sacked.[22]

Plymouth Argyle[edit]

After taking over as manager at Championship side Plymouth Argyle,[23] Pulis managed to turn around a floundering team, to one that with the right investment could challenge for a top half/play off place in 2006–07. The turn-around coincided with the loan of West Ham United central defender Elliott Ward[24] and the club improved even further with the permanent signing of Lilian Nalis from Sheffield United.[25] Plymouth Argyle ended the season 14th in the Championship table.

Second spell at Stoke City[edit]

Pulis in typical matchday dress.

In May 2006 he was the subject of an approach from former club Stoke,[26] who had recently parted company with manager Johan Boskamp, following Peter Coates' takeover of the club. Plymouth reportedly turned down this approach.[27] However, on 14 June 2006 it was announced that Pulis would be returning as manager of Stoke City.[1]

Pulis bolstered his squad for the 2006–07 with the permanent additions of Danny Higginbotham,[28] Ricardo Fuller[29] and Vincent Péricard.[30] His most notable coup was the loan signing of Lee Hendrie from Aston Villa.[31][32] Hendrie's arrival along with the loan signings of Salif Diao,[33] Andy Griffin[34] and Rory Delap[35] coincided with a change of form for the Potters following a poor start to the season. Stoke went as high as 4th in the table prior to the January transfer window.

Pulis was named manager of the month for April 2007, after Stoke picked up eleven points from five league games.[36] This unbeaten run lifted Stoke to 7th in the table, on equal points with sixth-place Southampton.[37] However, a 1–1 draw against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the season[38] led to Stoke finishing eighth in the Championship.[39] Pulis sold several key players prior to the 2007–08 season; club captain Danny Higginbotham was one of a number of players to depart, joining Sunderland for £3m.[40] However, Pulis utilised the loan market again, signing five players on loan, including Ryan Shawcross from Manchester United.[41] With a few of these loan signings joining on a permanent deal in the January transfer window.

Pulis guided Stoke City to promotion to the Premier League on the final day of the season. It was to be Stoke's first top flight campaign in 23 years. Upon promotion, Pulis admitted the need to strengthen his squad but he also made it clear that the club would not go 'over the top' with spending. Stoke's biggest summer signing was that of striker Dave Kitson, who joined from recently relegated Reading for £5.5m. Kitson was followed by the captures of Seyi Olofinjana from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £3m, Abdoulaye Faye from Newcastle United for £2.25m, Amdy Faye from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee, Andrew Davies joined for £1.2m from Southampton, defender Ibrahima Sonko signed for an initial £2m fee from Reading and former Potter, Danny Higginbotham rejoined his former club from Sunderland for an undisclosed fee. Pulis was also prepared to move players on, including his son Anthony Pulis and striker Jon Parkin.

After a promising start to the season, Stoke's mid-season slump left them as one of the favourites for relegation. However, the January additions of Sheffield United's James Beattie and West Ham United's winger Matthew Etherington helped rejuvenate their season. The £3.5 million signing of Beattie was widely considered to be one of the most prudent purchases in English football that season.[42] Stoke dipped in and out of the relegation zone until March, when a good run of form lifted them above the bottom three. Their 2–1 win away to Hull City on 9 May 2009 secured their Premier League survival. Pulis has received much praise for his work with Stoke on a limited budget, in particular his achievement of keeping them in the Premier League. He was mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2008–09 Premier League manager of the year award.

The following season saw Stoke consolidating their Premier League status rather than facing relegation, and also saw them reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with victories over York City, Arsenal and Manchester City before losing to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Stoke finished 11th in the Premier League with 47 points, a place higher and two points more than last season.[43] Pulis made his 300th appearance as Stoke manager with a 3–0 win over Blackburn Rovers on 6 February 2010. The result was Stoke's largest top-flight win for nearly 24 years after a 4–0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1984.[44] Following criticism from Fulham player Danny Murphy over the way Pulis sets his team out to play, Pulis decided to release a six-minute statement defending the management staff and club as well as questioning Murphy's agenda.[45][46]

After a number of controversial refereeing decisions that have gone against Stoke, Pulis has advocated the introduction of a relegation system for referees to stop poor decisions.[47][48] He became only the third manager in Stoke's history to guide the club to the semi-finals of the FA Cup after a quarter final victory over West Ham United.[49] They then went on to beat Bolton Wanderers 5–0, making Pulis the first manager to guide Stoke to an FA Cup Final.[50][51] Stoke lost the final 1–0 to Manchester City with Yaya Touré scoring the only goal.[52] By reaching the final, Stoke qualified for the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League, after Manchester City confirmed a place in the Champions League.[53] Despite the defeat chairman Peter Coates believes that Pulis is Stoke's greatest ever manager.[54]

In the Europa League Stoke were draw against Croatian giants Hajduk Split, Stoke won both legs 1–0 thus becoming the first Stoke side to win a two-legged European tie.[55] Pulis signed former England internationals Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson on free transfers to strengthen his centre backs following the departure of Abdoulaye Faye.[56] He took charge of his 800th competitive match in August 2011.[57] On transfer deadline day Pulis signed Cameron Jerome from Birmingham as well as Tottenham duo Peter Crouch and Wilson Palacios. Crouch at £10 million broke the club's transfer record for the fourth successive season.[58] In the group stages of the Europa League Stoke were drawn against Beşiktaş, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv and after a 1–1 draw against Kyiv in December Stoke qualified for the knock-out stages.[59] Pulis described the achievement as a 'milestone' in the club's history.[60] Stoke were handed a glamour tie against Spanish giants Valencia in the round of 32.[61] He reached 400 matches as Stoke manager in January 2012.[62][63] Stoke lost both legs against Valencia 1–0 and exited the Europa League. In the second leg in Valencia Stoke took a largely reserve side and named just four substitutes which included academy captain Lucas Dawson. This attracted much criticism of Pulis by supporters but he defended his choice.[64] Stoke finished the 2011–12 season in 14th position.

In the summer of 2012, Pulis was again busy in the transfer market letting Ricardo Fuller leave bringing in a number of new midfield players. In came American duo Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu, Scottish pair Jamie Ness and Charlie Adam, Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Michael Kightly, Blackburn Rovers' French prospect Steven N'Zonzi and former England striker Michael Owen.[65] Stoke made a steady start to the 2012–13 season despite a tough opening set of fixtures. Pulis has stated that he would like to see out the remainder of his managerial career at Stoke and that he is starting to change his side's style of play.[66] Stoke went on a ten match unbeaten run from 10 November to 29 December conceding just seven goals in the process giving Stoke one of the best defensive records in Europe up to that point.[67]

However Stoke made a poor start to 2013 picking up just a point in January and a frustrating transfer window saw just two new arrivals American winger Brek Shea and England 'keeper Jack Butland. Performances and results remained poor in February and Pulis came under heavy criticism from supporters after a uninspiring home defeat against West Ham United.[68] Victories against Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City saw Stoke avoid the threat of relegation and they finished the 2012–13 season in 13th position.[69] It was a season of little progress at Stoke and Pulis left the club on 21 May 2013 after a meeting with Chairman Peter Coates.[70] Speaking after his departure Pulis revealed that he was disappointed by Coates' decision but accepts his reasons.[71][72] He was replaced by another Welsh manager, Mark Hughes.[73][74]

Crystal Palace[edit]

On 23 November 2013 Pulis was appointed manager of Crystal Palace on a two-and-half-year contract taking over from Ian Holloway.[75][76] His first win came on 3 December 2013, a 1–0 home win against West Ham United.[77] During the January transfer window, Pulis made five signings, all of which came on transfer deadline day. He signed Tom Ince on loan from Blackpool, while permanently signing Joe Ledley from Celtic, Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers, Jason Puncheon from Southampton and Wayne Hennessey from Wolverhampton Wanderers.[78] The new arrivals helped Palace to become a more solid team defensively and they went on a run of five consecutive victories, which included wins over Chelsea, Cardiff, Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham United.[79][80][81] This run of form earned Palace mathematical safety and saw Pulis named as manager of the month for April 2014.[82][83] Palace finished the 2013–14 season in 11th position with 45 points which saw Pulis named as the Premier League manager of the year.[84]

Style of management[edit]

Pulis has a reputation within the game for achieving solid results on small budgets and also maintains the proud record of never being relegated as a manager.[2] Throughout his managerial career Pulis has used the long ball style of play.[85]

Personal life[edit]

Pulis was born in the Pill area of Newport, in Wales. He was raised there, with his father, Angelo, a steelworker, and his mother, Jean, as well as his brothers and sisters.[86] Growing up in Newport he supported Manchester United as well as attending matches at Cardiff City and Newport County.[87] One of his brothers, Ray also used to play for Newport and is currently chairman of Welsh non-league side Pill AFC. His son Anthony is a professional footballer who plays for Orlando City. Pulis's former Bristol Rovers team mate Ian Holloway is Anthony's godfather.[88] He also has a daughter, Stephanie whose partner, Jack Swann is an amateur footballer who played for Bournemouth Poppies.[89] His grandfather was born in Ħaż-Żabbar in Malta before he moved to Wales.[90]

Pulis was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Staffordshire on 10 July 2009. He received the reward for his contribution in helping sports journalism students at the university.[91] He was also awarded the award at the University of Wales, Newport on 15 April 2013.[92] Pulis participated in the 2009 London Marathon to raise money for the Donna Louise Trust which assists a children hospice.[93] He completed the marathon in 4 hours 31 minutes 57 seconds.[94] In May 2010 Pulis climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with Nick Hancock to raise money for the Stoke-on-Trent based charity the Donna Louise Trust.[95] In March 2012 he escaped a driving ban for speeding after his lawyer claimed that the city of Stoke-on-Trent would suffer as a result.[96] On 31 May 2012 Pulis was an Olympic Torch bearer for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[97]

Pulis is a Catholic and regularly attends church.[98] His mother died on 13 September 2010, the same day that Stoke had a Monday night fixture against Aston Villa. Pulis made an unexpected return to the dug-out after the half-time break, having missed the first half, amidst huge applause from the home crowd. At this time Villa were 1–0 up but goals from Kenwyne Jones and Robert Huth gave Stoke a 2–1 win and their first points of the season.[99]

Career statistics[edit]

As a player[edit]

Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other[A] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Bristol Rovers 1975–76 Second Division 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
1976–77 Second Division 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
1977–78 Second Division 23 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 28 0
1978–79 Second Division 7 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 11 0
1979–80 Second Division 34 3 1 0 2 0 0 0 37 3
1980–81 Second Division 8 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 12 0
Total 85 3 5 0 8 0 3 0 101 3
Happy Valley 1981–82 Hong Kong First Division 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 0
Total 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 0
Bristol Rovers 1982–83 Third Division 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 0
1983–84 Third Division 28 2 0 0 3 0 1 0 32 2
Total 45 2 0 0 3 0 1 0 49 2
Newport County 1984–85 Third Division 37 0 2 1 1 0 5 0 45 1
1985–86 Third Division 40 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 44 0
Total 77 0 5 1 2 0 5 0 89 1
Bournemouth 1986–87 Third Division 35 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 39 0
1987–88 Second Division 29 3 1 0 4 0 1 0 35 3
1988–89 Second Division 10 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 12 0
Total 74 3 2 0 7 0 3 0 86 3
Gillingham 1989–90 Fourth Division 16 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 17 0
Total 16 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 17 0
Bournemouth 1990–91 Third Division 15 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 17 1
1991–92 Third Division 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 16 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 18 1
Career Total 326 9 14 1 20 0 13 0 373 10
A. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the Anglo-Scottish Cup, Football League Trophy and Full Members Cup.

As a manager[edit]

As of match played on 11 May 2014.
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bournemouth 9 June 1992 5 August 1994 107 31 38 38 28.97
Gillingham 31 July 1995 1 July 1999 216 94 62 60 43.52
Bristol City 5 July 1999 14 January 2000 33 10 14 9 30.30
Portsmouth 13 January 2000 12 October 2000 35 11 10 14 31.43
Stoke City 1 November 2002 28 June 2005 131 47 32 52 35.88
Plymouth Argyle 23 September 2005 14 June 2006 39 12 15 12 30.77
Stoke City 14 June 2006 21 May 2013 333 122 98 113 36.64
Crystal Palace 23 November 2013 Present 28 12 5 11 42.86
Total 922 339 274 309 36.77

Honours[edit]

As a player[edit]

Bournemouth

As a manager[edit]

Gillingham
Stoke City
Crystal Palace

References[edit]

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