I had this post written before Palace beat West Ham 1-0, honest. Besides Palace’s win on Tuesday night just adds, at least a temporary luster to my point so I’ve tweaked it slightly to include this.
My point is this, Tony Pulis is the best choice the Palace board could have made give themselves the best chance of survival.
I say this not because, I am a fan of Pulis’ style of football. Its awful. The ninety minutes I spent watching Stoke play Wolves a few seasons back were some of the most boring, neck-pain inducing I have ever experienced.
Still it would be petty to deny its effectiveness.
Pulis has managed teams to Premier league survival in the recent past. He kept Stoke up for six years and might as well have ‘been there, done that’ stamped across his baseball hat.
His style of football is effective and proven. By contrast his two of his relegation rivals Fulham and Sunderland are being guided by managerial first timers. Rene Meulensteen might be a great coach but he has no significant experience as a number one. Sunderland’s Gus Poyet ultimately failed to achieve promotion at Brighton and has no prior Premier League experience.
Secondly, the players Palace have to work with aren’t as poor as their league position would assume. Jedinak, Campaña and Bannan give Palace the makings of a combative midfield, while Jason Puncheon is a winger who always poses a threat with his pace.
Perhaps most importantly though their defense is no worse than their rivals. Palace have conceded 22 goals. One fewer than Fulham, Norwich, Sunderland and not much worse than Swansea and Cardiff. Defensively they are at a similar level to the teams around them.
They aren’t getting hammered week in week out, they are losing by the odd goal. A manager like Pulis should be able to instantly improve on this.
Thirdly, it won’t be hard to adapt to Pulis’ tactics. It’s fair to say that Palace are going to play a somewhat direct game that seeks to get the ball from defence and attack as quickly as possible.
It shouldn’t be too difficult to get for Pulis to get his players doing this. After all they are technically good enough. Plus if the players don’t get on board with it then they can easily be replaced by hungry Championship players built like mountains.
All this was confirmed by Palace’s victory against West Ham. This gave early preview to how Pulis will seek to secure survival. Blood, Sweat and tears i.e. lots of hard work. Followed by artillery barrages that shell the opposing back line.
Time and again the Hammers attack broke against a hardworking organised Eagles defensive line which then got the ball forward as quickly as a ball could fly. Palace’s style was then confirmed by the goal a header from a cross after a set piece broke down.
It may not be pretty but I certainly wouldn’t bet against Pulis keeping Palace up.