Monday Moan: Pulis philosophy cost him

Mark Holmes believes Tony Pulis' Crystal Palace exit was down to his philosophy, while he lambastes Manchester United's lack of transfers.

Last Updated: 18/08/14 at 11:42 Post Comment

Tim Sherwood (left): Could replace Tony Pulis at Palace

Tim Sherwood (left): Could replace Tony Pulis at Palace

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Pulis departure down to philosophy

The departure of Tony Pulis from Crystal Palace just two days before the start of the new Premier League season shocked many, but news of tension between the Eagles' manager and co-chairman, Steve Parish, will have come to little surprise to anyone with any knowledge of how the two men like to operate.

Having spent his entire managerial career in the Football League prior to helping Stoke City to promotion in 2008, Pulis is used to - and insists on - having full control at a football club.

He is the ultimate micro-manager. While a number of clubs now employ head coaches purely to decide on tactics and team selection, Pulis also likes to take an extremely hands-on role in the scouting, identification and even negotiation and signing of transfer targets. He is heavily involved in every step of the process.

Such autonomy and omnipotence is often expected of managers lower down the ladder where money is tight, and Pulis was afforded that power at Stoke, where he enjoyed a close relationship with chairman Peter Coates.

Parish, however, is not a man that is willing to give that sort of freedom to any manager at a club he passionately supports. Like any fan, he believes he knows what is best for Palace and, as part-owner and co-chairman, is better placed than anyone to ensure the club sticks to its principles, ideals and philosophy.

It was the involvement of Parish, not to mention the presence of a sporting director, Iain Moody, at Selhurst Park, that made Pulis cautious of taking the job in the first place.

Just two months later, reports emerged that Pulis was unhappy with Parish for taking a holiday during the January transfer window as he attempted to strengthen his squad.

The manager eventually got his way after five of his targets were secured on deadline day but, despite a hugely successful second half of the season, Parish was not willing to allow Pulis to dictate transfer policy over the summer.

While Pulis targets such as Steven Caulker, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork went unsigned, Parish instead pushed for a reunion with Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha, a player whose attitude Pulis was unconvinced by.

It was not as surprising as was made out, therefore, when the Welshman decided he could not continue at Palace.

As it is the manager that ultimately shoulders the blame should new signings not work out and things to go wrong on the pitch, it is certainly understandable that Pulis should feel it is he that should decide on who should be bought and sold.

The problem, however, was not necessarily one of control but one of differing views. After all, if Pulis, Parish and Moody were all agreed on the type of player that needed to be bought to move the club forward, a rift would never have occurred.

Unfortunately for Pulis, his success last season was not enough to convince Parish that his blueprint was the one that should be followed.

And as Ian Holloway wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror, "When a hands-on owner no longer shares the same vision as the man he employs to manage the team, there is usually only one outcome."

Palace now appear likely to turn to Tim Sherwood, a man that favours a more attractive style of football. He will be no more keen than Pulis to have players signed without his say-so but, crucially, his vision for the team is likely to be more in tune with that of Parish's.

Parish has certainly blurred the lines between the roles and responsibilities of a manager and chairman, and debate will continue as to whether an owner or chairman should have a say in team affairs, but Pulis' departure merely highlights what we already know: that the relationship between manager and chairman at a football club is the most important of all.

Pulis did a sensational job at Selhurst Park for which Parish is no doubt eternally grateful, but a club cannot progress without a shared vision. Unfortunately for Pulis, he was the odd man out.

United defeat highlights transfer failings

Plenty of people were surprised to see Manchester United beaten in Louis van Gaal's first game in charge at the weekend, as though a new manager would resolve all of the team's problems.

It was a shock, of course, to see them beaten at home by Swansea, but it certainly shouldn't have come as a surprise to see the team's weaknesses highlighted again.

David Moyes was a big part of the problem, but he certainly wasn't the sole reason why United finished seventh last season, and Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have all left since then.

Van Gaal is a terrific tactician that will get the best out of the players available to him but, if United have any ambitions of a quick return to the Champions League, Ed Woodward and the club's recruitment team need to act quickly to put right the failings of a succession of transfer windows.

Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were captured early in the summer, but the duo were pre-existing targets. The players targeted by Van Gaal on the other hand remain unsigned.

United were always going to find it more difficult to sign players having fallen out of Europe but it is starting to look worryingly as though there is a bigger problem behind the scenes.

Moyes has confirmed that the club targeted Cesc Fabregas, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, while the likes of Angel Di Maria and Arturo Vidal have reportedly been tracked to no avail so far this year. It should not be as hard as it is seemingly proving for a club of United's size to sign those sort of players.

As it is, Van Gaal, like Moyes, has begun his reign hamstrung. It would be a surprise if he does not still manage to inspire some sort of revival, but it would be an even bigger surprise if he managed to lead the current squad back into the top four.

United have resolved one problem in the dugout, but now they must resolve an even bigger one.

Soft penalties need to be stamped out

In a recent interview, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey told me he would "rather be wrong in not giving a penalty that should have been than giving a penalty that wasn't."

It made sense. We criticise referees for not giving penalties but, given they only get one look at an incident in high speed, it is understandable that they are often not certain enough to make such a big call. We certainly wouldn't want referees to guess.

However, after just one weekend of the new Premier League season we have already witnessed the awarding of two extremely soft penalties. Victor Anichebe won one for West Brom against Sunderland after the tiniest of shirt tugs from Valentin Roberge, while James Chester was harshly adjudged to have deliberately stopped a cross using his hand in Hull City's win at QPR.

Some will argue, in the case of the Hawthorns penalty at least, that all infringements, no matter how small, should be penalised, but as Halsey said, "you can't be constantly blowing up for free-kicks and penalties."

There is an expected and accepted amount of contact involved in football, and unless there is a desire to remove that element of the game, referees simply have to be more miserly when it comes to handing out spot-kicks.

Pointless statistics reappear

Most football fans love a good statistic, but there is something rather irksome about many of those that are reeled out during opening weekends of the season.

What relevance, for example, does it have that QPR have won only four of their last 40 Premier League games given one of those was on the final day of the 2011-12 season under a different manager, while 38 were two seasons ago with an almost completely different set of players?

Why, meanwhile, is there so much more research done into a team's opening-day results over history than there is their second or third-week results? Are there more points on offer on the first day?

Statistics are a lot of fun, but don't forget your pinch of salt.

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