Betfair blogger Phil Tomlinson feels that Tony Pulis deserves all the praise he gets.
Love or loathe Tony Pulis’style of football at Stoke, it’s difficult not to doff your baseball cap to the Potters boss this season.
Promoted last season from the Championship, bookies and pundits alike had the men
from the Brittania as certainties for the drop and at the turn of the year Pulis’ men had struggled into 18th spot.
But Pulis, with his own trademark baseball cap, worked some magic in the January transfer window, picked up two diamond geezers, and started to upset the football odds.
The signing of Sheffield United striker James Beattie, who could eventually cost £3.5million, was a masterstroke and looking around the top flight, probably the best signing of the winter window.
While Beattie’s seven top-flight goals have been invaluable his partnership with Ricardo Fuller has also been a major influence at Stoke, who could finish the season above mega-rich Manchester City in 10th spot.
The two have hit it off and have become a real handful for Premier League defences up and down the country.
Pulis also drafted in West Ham winger Matthew Etherington, who like Beattie, already had Premier League experience and a hunger to prove himself – a fact that persuaded Pulis to sign the 27-year-old.
Etherington has also been impressive and allowed Stoke to tweak their route-one style.
There has been a noticeable change in the way that Pulis’ men have played since Christmas and Pulis has to be handed all the credit.
His raw pace has allowed Stoke more space to play with the opposition wary of playing too high a line and his crossing ability has ultimately doubled the strikers’ supply line.
The return to fitness of fellow wideman Liam Lawrence has also been a contributing factor, while Glenn Whelan and Stoke Player of the Year Abdoulaye Fatye have been terrific.
It will be interesting to see who Pulis signs in the close season and whether he continues the transition from ‘ugly’ football to the ‘beautiful’ game.