West Brom head coach Tony Pulis has not been surprised by the recent run of results former club Crystal Palace have enjoyed in the Premier League, as he prepares for his Selhurst Park return.
Palace have won their last four top-flight outings, including a victory over champions Manchester City and a 4-1 rout of struggling Sunderland.
It is in stark contrast to West Brom, with Pulis’ men having suffered back-to-back home defeats against relegation candidates Leicester City and QPR.
Pulis left Palace in August following disagreements with the club’s board, as Neil Warnock took charge for a brief spell before Alan Pardew’s arrival in January.
“I had a wonderful time there, it was great and I really enjoyed it, a wonderful football club and the players were absolutely fantastic and the supporters were wonderful,” said Pulis, who steered Palace away from relegation danger last season.
“I sat in the stand and watched them at Hull City and they had four points from 11 games and I knew it was going to be a massive, massive task.
“But what really mattered what them staying in the Premier League, it’s a club with unbelievable potential.
“I was surprised they didn’t get off to a good start [this season]. They’ve spent nearly £30 million this year on players to add to a squad that finished 11th last year.
“So, is it any surprise they are doing well now? No, not at all. If you look at the facts – a group of players were left behind and are still there. And both managers have added to it.”
Pardew is on course to replicate the 11th-placed finish that saw Pulis named LMA Manager of the Year last term and the former Newcastle boss was also boosted by a new deal for versatile defender Joel Ward on Wednesday – with the 25-year-old effusive in his praise of his manager.
“The manager has changed the feel around the place,” he told the Evening Standard.
“He has given us a sense of direction and we have bought into what he wants from us.
“Everyone is enjoying their football and once you get that momentum going, it is really hard to stop. We are on a real high at the moment and the club is improving year in, year out, so I really do think this is only the start of what is to come.
“[Pardew] has just come in and added to that with the organisation and direction, and we are creating an identity in the way we play.”
Jordon Mutch (thigh) and Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) could miss out for Palace. Pulis is without the services of suspended midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu while Brown Ideye (knee) is also a doubt.
The two sides shared a 2-2 draw in October’s meeting at The Hawthorns, when the hosts came from two goals behind.
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