Stoke City boss Tony Pulis has left the Britannia Stadium after seven years in charge.
The Potters had been dragged into the fight for survival in the last few months of the season, but ended the season with his side in 13th position in the Premier League table. Pulis left the Britannia by mutual consent.
With Sir Alex Ferguson retiring this summer and David Moyes moving to Manchester United to replace him, Tony Pulis would have been second longest serving boss in the top flight behind Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger had he stayed at the Britannia.
Tony Pulis has brought stability to Stoke. The 55 year-old got the Potters promoted and has made the Potters a stable Premier League outfit. The biggest credit that Pulis could have been given was the fact that hardly anybody realistically thought that Stoke would be relegated, despite a terrible run of form.
Stoke seemed a steady Premier League until the end of the season, when the Potters went on a terrible run of form, which saw them just above the drop zone. When it looked like they could be dragged into the relegation zone Stoke all of a sudden found form and pulled away from the drop zone.
Pulis had done a commendable job working with the Potters hierarchy to transform the whole infrastructure of the club. The club is a far different one now to the one that Pulis took over seven years ago.
Tony Pulis has come in for heavy criticism this season from his own fans. The majority of Potters supporters have been behind the boss and backed his decisions. However, this season the tide of opinion seems have changed.
For virtually the first time Stoke fans have questioned whether Tony Pulis is the right man for the job, despite what he has done for the club. The team has just not performed under Pulis this season and for possibly the first time in his reign, he was not getting the best out of his players.
Stoke have become very hard to beat under Tony Pulis, teams dreaded the trip to the Britannia Stadium. Stoke’s relative success was based on a solid defence. Unfortunately, their style was based on a direct style of football that the majority of Stoke fans started to dislike towards the end of the Welshman’s tenure.
Their reputation as a dirty team, who just kicked teams into defeat is not completely unjustified. I do not think Stoke fans minded that they had such a reputation, while they were winning games. It gave the Potters a psychological advantage before games, as some teams was not up for the battle against Stoke.
However, once the style of play become unsuccessful the Stoke fans realised that they were just watching long ball football and it was not even winning long ball football anymore. Tony Pulis attempted to change the teams’ style, but just could not seem to get away from his preferred direct style.
The search for Pulis’ replacement has begun and former-Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo has been installed as the favourite with the bookmakers for the vacant position in the Potteries. Also likely to be in the frame are Martin O’Neill, Mark Hughes and Brighton boss Guy Poyet.
It is vital that Stoke get the decision right on their next boss. Too many clubs in similar positions have suffered from sacking a long-term boss. Everybody connected with the club will be hoping that the same fate does not befall the Potters.
Stoke fans may have had their fill of Tony Pulis’ brand of football, but it is that brand of football that has kept the Potters competitive in the top flight. Without Tony Pulis and his style of play, the Potters may not have stayed in the Premier League, or even got into the top flight in the first place.
Sometimes football fans need to be careful what they wish. The new Stoke manager may try to change Stoke’s style of play and succeed, but they may fail and the whole thing could end in disaster for the Potters.
Was Tony Pulis leaving the club the right decision for Stoke?