I have to admit I have always liked Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis.
The Welshman received heavy criticism for the style of football his Stoke team played for the majority of his tenure at the Britannia Stadium, yet they survived in the top-flight season-after-season.
Tony Pulis is a survivor. He has never been relegated as a boss and always seems to manage to get the best out of his players.
At Stoke his style may not have been pretty on the eye, but it helped the Potters punch above their weight for a long time.
When Pulis arrived at Crystal Palace they were looking like a dead-cert for relegation. They looked like they were destined for a quick return to the Championship. The Palace board saw Ian Holloway bring in a host of new players in the summer, but it was quantity rather than quality.
The Palace hierarchy did not trust Ollie with much of the clubs money, as I it seemed they never truly believed that the Eagles would survive in the top-flight under the former-Blackpool boss. Morale was low and there was almost an acceptance that Palace was going to be a one-season Premier League wonder, then Pulis arrived.
Since the former-Stoke boss took over there is a new belief amongst the fans and more importantly the players that the team have the ability to stay in the top-flight this season. No doubt it is the boss that has instilled this new-found attitude within the club.
Saturday’s 3-1 victory over fellow-strugglers West Brom moved the Eagles into 14th place in the Premier League table and saw the Baggies slip into the bottom three. Palace are now three points above the drop zone, but have given themselves a chance of survival.
Palace may not pass the ball like an Arsenal or an Everton, but they are certainly no long-ball team. They mix it up and they play some decent football at times. Wingers Jason Puncheon and Yannick Bolasie have been key to the team’s recent form, as Palace use their flanks very effectively.
Crystal Palace did really well in the transfer window and Tony Pulis was very shrewd in the market. The former-Stoke boss brought in the likes of Scott Dann, Joe Ledley and Thomas Ince. All three players could play a crucial role in Palace avoiding the drop.
Ince made an instant impact scoring after just 15 minutes and also creating a goal on his debut. Ledley also got on the scoresheet on his debut. I do not think Palace fans could have asked for anything more from their new players.
The signing of Ince was a coup for Pulis and Palace. A number of Premier League clubs were interested in signing the young winger from Blackpool, but it was Palace that won the race for the youngster. The England under-21 international has impressed immensely in the Championship and now has his big chance in the top-flight.
The signing of the 22-year-old winger has already paid dividends, with his debut appearance proving so successful. He has stated that he needs to improve and become stronger, so he is obviously a youngster that is willing to learn.
The only downside to signing Ince on-loan is the fact that the Eagles may lose him when the season finishes. His Blackpool contract expires in the summer, when he will be a free agent. French giants Monaco are known admirers of Ince and are being linked with a summer move.
Although he admitted he was flattered by the interest from the big spending French club, he stated that he was just concentrating on helping Palace to survival and that he would assess his future in the summer.
One aspect of the Palace team that has improved since Pulis’ arrival is their defence. The Eagles now look very solid at the back and well organised. The addition of Dann could help that organisation, as the Liverpool-born centre-back has impressed in the top-flight previously with Birmingham.
The 27-year-old has never quite fulfilled his promise as a top-flight footballer, so maybe at Palace he now has the perfect platform to prove his ability. Palace have looked like a far better defensive unit since Pulis’ arrival and are conceding far fewer goals. The addition of Dann can only be good for Palace.
Crystal Palace’s performances have improved immensely under the stewardship of Tony Pulis. The Eagles now have a good chance of staying in the Premier League, something that could not have been said at beginning of the campaign.
The Palace team and their fans are currently doing themselves proud in the top-flight. With Tony Pulis at the helm there is now a confidence at Palace that their team can beat the drop this season. It seems Tony Pulis and Crystal Palace is a match made in heaven.
I have a feeling that come the end of the season that the former-Stoke boss will have completed what looked like mission impossible, and kept the Eagles in the Premier League this season.
Can Crystal Palace avoid relegation to the Championship?