Tony Pulis all but gone – the next appointment is crucial

It’s all but certain that Tony Pulis will leave the club next week and I certainly will not miss him. In fact, you would have to wake me up to tell me when he has actually gone as he has bored me to sleep with his brand of football and his broken-record interviews.

In previous articles, I tried to put a positive spin on his pragmatic approach that drove our early season form trying to convince myself that I could stomach the functional football but as the season wore on, so did my patience and my interest.

Still in with a shout on final day of getting in the play-offs and I still couldn’t get excited about it.

The six game end of season losing streak had seen us drop from a then-comfortable position in the play-offs to relying on another team to get a result or slip up.

One crumb of sympathy I would have is that during in that slump, we played probably the most attacking football we had played all season, spurning a number of chances.

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While people would point to those 6 defeats in a row and say that wasn’t Pulis’ fault, I also look at the 0-0s against Swansea, Rotherham at home and Stoke away and home defeat to Ipswich and say that they were his fault due to how negative we were set up.

Pulis has sounded like a broken record recently talking about how “astonished” he was at some of the wages and how he has cut down the wage bill and clawed back money that had been spent on players bought before he came along.

He’s always mentioned that we’ve cut back and other teams have spent this, that and the other. The wage bill needed cutting, I get that. Money needed to be recouped, I get that too.

What I have a problem with is using money spent (or not spent) as a metric for quality. The Championship, where fees have gone up and up and up recently, does not require stupid money to get promotion/playoffs.

Not looking at net spend, just some rough figures probably not including add-ons and such from a stat site around money spent on players for the season. They could be a little more or a little less.

Apologies for not being to-the-decimal-point accurate but it just a rough idea to illustrate.

Last season:

Wolves – around £22 million
Cardiff – around £11 million
Fulham – around £17 million
Derby – around £11 million
Aston Villa – around £2.5 million

Middlesbrough – around £50 million

This season:

Norwich – Around £4 million
Sheff United – Around £6 million
Leeds – Around £10 million
Aston Villa – Around £17 million
West Brom – Around £11 million
Derby – Around £11 million
Middlesbrough – £19 million

So the last two seasons out of all the teams involved in the play-offs and promotion, we have spent the most both seasons with nothing but an abject surrender to Aston Villa in the playoffs last year to show for it.It is also worth noting that in the 16/17 season Newcastle spent around £57 million to finish 1pt in front of Brighton who spent £8 million. Huddersfield won the play-offs with a spend of around £4 million. I also appreciate that in the same season Aston Villa spent around £77 million and got nowhere that season, a play off loss the season after and a play-off final this season.

Money doesn’t always buy quality. The top scorer in the Championship this season was a free transfer.

Championship Team of the Season

Darren Randolph – £5 million
Jamal Lewis (Norwich) – Youth
Liam Cooper (Leeds) – £675k
Reece James (Wigan) – Loan
Max Aarons (Norwich) – Youth
Jarrod Bowen (Hull) – Youth
Oliver Norwood (Sheff Utd) – About £2 million
Kalvi n Phillips (Leeds) – Youth
Billy Sharp (Sheff Utd) – £635k
Teemu Pukki (Norwich) – Free
Che Adams (Birmingham) – about £2 million

The adjudged best 11 players this season in the championship cost their respected clubs in total just over £10 million pounds.

What I see there is a mixture of youth and some good recruitment. Pulis doesn’t really like youth and recruitment failed him.

But he is as good as gone. Time to look ahead. It is already being reported that we are looking for a change from the dull fare served this season to a more attacking style to appease the fans.

Chris Hughton recently released from Brighton was a name that a lot of fans hand on the tips of their tongue after his sacking but he wouldn’t be my choice.

If he was available at the time we got Pulis, I think it would have been a good appointment and I think we may have been in a better position now.

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But the football isn’t too dissimilar and seemingly a very good person as well as a respected coach would have been a spoon full of sugar with which to down the poor football with.

If we got him at that time, he may have got us up. He may have kept us up. But that 2nd PL season slump was alarming and is hard to ignore.

“Doing a job” isn’t good enough. A sticking-plaster appointment is not what we need.

I tweeted a while back that I don’t want a big name or a tried and tested manager.

I want a young, hungry coach with a clear vision. Youth brought through coupled with good recruitment. A project we can get behind and shake us out of our apathetic slumber.

I want to feel something about my football club again.

I want my club to be ambitious. Ambition is not about spending money. It is going out and looking for a coach who can take the reins and put a project in place and the whole club having the balls to see it through.

The two most experienced managers we have had at the helm since Robson was in charge have been Gordon Strachan and Tony Pulis and I would say they have been the two worst periods in our modern history, football-wise.

Let’s be brave. Be bold. Come on, Boro. Make me feel something again

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