Tony Pulis has produced wonders at Stoke City with many neutrals citing the Potters approach as the ideal Blueprint for Championship sides of how to stay in the Premier League. Pulis reveals his approach to management and why the Stoke City supporters play a massive part in their success.
How would you describe your football philosophy?
I was never gifted enough to be a top player. So if I didn’t succeed early on in my management career then I knew I mightn’t be given another chance because I didn’t have a great name which meant I couldn’t get one job after another. I knew that if I did not do well early on then that would most probably end up with me failing in what I wanted to do.
So I’ve always built a solid base in the centre of the team with respect to winning games. I think as a manager you have to do that. It’s a results industry, and if you don’t win games then you don’t stay in your job.
My biggest thing is to find out about and work with the material I’m given and get the best out of it. If I were in charge of Barcelona or Manchester United then I would expect those players to be technically good enough to keep the ball and play it from back to front in every game. If you haven’t got that and are working at Bournemouth or Gillingham, as I did, and you haven’t got those technically gifted players then you play to the players’ strengths.
I think that is a great strength of a manager, knowing what strengths and depths of talent you are working with and then trying to get results from that base.
So your approach is defined by what you inherit at a club, rather than any kind of over-arching ideal?
I think you are given certain material to work with and as a manager you have to make that work, irrespective of what situation you are in.
Some managers are blessed because they will work with the top clubs and with the top players who will win you games.
What you have to do – whether you are a young manager or someone in my position – is recognise and realise that you will be playing against teams week in, week out who most likely have got more than you have in respect of technical ability, quality and everything else. So you’ve got to find a way around that to win those matches and to be successful for your football club.
How do you feel Stoke’s style of play has evolved since you have been at the club?
I don’t care what people think about the style of play. I don’t give a damn what people outside of the football club say. If you let yourself get affected by what too many people say then you won’t last long in this job. You’ve got to make sure that you’re very single-minded, you’re very observant of what you’ve got and get the best out of that.
We’ve gone from crowds of 11,000 to being sold out every week, and we hope we play in a way that our supporters enjoy. By selling out every week, I think you see that they are enjoying it.
A trip to Stoke is now seen as one of the toughest challenges on the fixture list – how big a factor in your progress has the Britannia Stadium crowd been, and why are your fans so noisy?
When we got promoted we played Bolton in our first game, and we were beaten 3-1. The bookmakers wrote us off straight away and paid out on us getting relegated. I think that inspired everyone – not only the players, the staff and myself, but the whole community. It was a call to arms that everybody stood up and took.
If you come to visit us now then I think it is as close as you’ll get to a community club anywhere in the country. Everybody is united in wanting to see this club pushing on.
For more insight from Tony Pulis and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to www.yahoo.co.uk/sport