Tony Pulis has ensured Crystal Palace’s survival. Manager of the month honour is a fitting reward for an excellent April which saw the Londoners win 4 out of 5 and ensure their Premier League survival-the first time they have survived a Premier League campaign.
The Welshman has done a brilliant job at Selhurst Park: taking over an Eagles outfit languishing in the bottom two at the end of November having picked up only 7 points from 12 games, through great man management skills, shoring up his defence and making his team more organised, he has changed the club’s fortunes around. Currently lying in 11th place, Palace could still enjoy a top 10 finish.
Playing a more attractive brand of football than in his Stoke days which were marked by long throw-ins, long balls, and putting the foot in, Pulis has preserved his record of never having been relegated from the Premier League. His 23 match tenure has yielded 11 wins-including the scalps of Chelsea and Everton, 3 draws and 9 defeats, including 9 clean sheets by a defence who prior to his arrival were leaking goals at an alarming rate.
Pulis’ exploits bring to memory what Harry Redknapp did at Tottenham back in 08-09- albeit with a less attractive brand of football, when he led Spurs from the bottom of the league to an 8th place finish.
In my book Pulis’ houdini act should give him a shot at the Manager of the year award. Having inherited a team low on confidence and quality, he has turned effectively the same group of players-bar 2 o’r 3 signings into a decent outfit, capable of beating anyone on their day.
Based on managerial ability in my book he should get the nod: whilst managers like Pellegrini, Mourinho, and Rodgers boast teams worth millions and millions of pounds (albeit Liverpool’s team has been assembled at a lesser cost than the two others) and full of quality operators, he has turned around a team bereft of any big names, and without a big pot of cash to spend.
Whilst not denigrating the excellent work of Pellegrini and Rodgers, and the very good work of the returning Mourinho, its a good deal harder to mould a team of less gifted players, than a team full of quality operators. Could Pellegrini and Mourinho have done the same job as Pulis with the resources at his fingertips? I doubt it.
Rodgers possibly- as he took my beloved Swansea- a team without a lot of money to an impressive 11th place finish in their first Premiership season, but he inherited a stable team who were riding high in the championship before taking them up to football’s top table.
But with the tendency to give the League winning manager the award, it is unlikely that Pulis will pick up the award. But Pulis and Palace fans won’t mind- a second season in the Premier League will do just nicely.