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Tony Pulis – Welcome to Crystal Palace

Following the fortunes of Crystal Palace over the last four weeks has, as always, been a rollercoaster ride for us fans. Ian Holloway left the club just over a month ago now, and through various “ media sources”, we have been linked with plenty of interesting managerial options. Some very real options, some others, well, not so real. From Chris Coleman, Aitor Karanka, Dan Petrescu and our former boss Iain Dowie, and even remarkably, the Palace legend, Geoff Thomas, at one point or another, they have all been possibly/maybe on the brink of taking over first team affairs. But after a long, and speculative spell, it seems imminent that the CPFC 2010 board have now settled on the man they wish to take Palace onwards and upwards. Step forward, Mr Pulis.

Is Pulis the right man for Palace, I hear you cry. Well, I certainly had my doubts, his initial financial demands to accept the job appeared to have permanently scuppered his chances of ever working for Steve Parish and the CPFC 2010 board, and didn’t sit well with the majority of us fans either. I can remember reading that he had requested the princely sum of £2 million per annum, plus a hefty bonus, to merely retain Palace’s top flight status this season. This was aside from a significant January transfer fund – understandably allowing himself an opportunity to correct the mistakes of Ian Holloway and co in that frantic, desperately desperate, damaging ambush, otherwise known as “Transfer Deadline Day”.

I think it is extremely fair to say that the majority of Palace fans would put the club’s financial future ahead of any immediate short term gain or glory. There is nothing beneficial, or nice (to be frank), about supporting a club in financial turmoil, and the club’s mere existence must always be paramount, which I believe is the case with CPFC 2010. I think the much maligned and harshly media-ridiculed delay in appointing a new manager has been down to this. The board have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do we take the Short term pain, long term gain route I think the CPFC 2010 board deliberated on for a while, hence the much discussed younger coach/experienced technical director option. Or put in different terms, get relegated this year, take the financial rewards – £63 million (even if we finish bottom of the Premier League), plus £59 million in parachute payments over the next four years, and plan a promotion push with said technical director/younger coach, next year.

Whilst this option is sensible, and absolutely feasible to us fans, I believe in hiring Pulis, the board are taking the only other sensible option open to us right now. Put simply: We go for it! As it stands, Palace are far from relegated, and this is why. We have 27 “cup finals” to still be played out, we are only 6 points behind the “safe” 17th spot, and have potentially, an easier run of fixtures to come than the previous eleven games of the season afforded us. Pulis has, to his extreme credit, an enviable record of having never been relegated over a 21 year career, and to all intents and purposes, was quite unfortunate to lose his job as Stoke City’s manager last summer.

Let’s browse through his recent record. A final league position of 12th in the Premier League was Stoke’s reward at the end of their first season in the Premier League, he then took the Potters to the FA Cup Final, where they were unlucky to lose to Manchester City, in the midst of four years of Premier League football. Sensible signings each summer ensured financial stability too. Ok, ok, his style of football may not be pretty on the eye for some – but then again, we hard core Palace fans have witnessed some “ugly” football down the years, and surely in our predicament, can we be that picky?

Pulis unfortunately, and perhaps harshly, outstayed his welcome at The Britannia, and the fans turned on him towards the end of his reign there. The belief was that Stoke should have evolved into a better “passing” team, as many of the recently newly promoted clubs were playing “prettier” football than Stoke, it was presumed that Pulis and co should change their style completely to adhere to these “prettier” teams.

There is no doubt though that Pulis will arrive at Selhurst Park with a point to prove. He is a successful Premier League manager. His sacking at Stoke would have hurt his pride immensely, and he even offered up a blueprint on the future of the club before his sacking:

Demonstrating his willingness to adapt to new ideas, and take a fresh approach to management, it seems that Pulis will not be the “dinosaur” old school style manager that I have perhaps envisaged.

We will wait, with baited breath, to see if Palace do see this appointment through – as of yet, it’s still not confirmed, and one thing is always certain at Palace – expect the unexpected! Yes, the Pulis appointment will be expensive, yes, it could be ugly to begin with, but at Palace we currently find ourselves in a wonderful position. The Premier League. We worked incredibly hard to get there, and for this reason only, I think Pulis is worth a shot, is definitely the best option available to us now, and I think with the financial backing of the board in January, Pulis can re-shape the squad and give us half a chance of survival at least.

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