Kalisz: A tribute to Tony
Tony Pulis over the past few years has been the punch bag for criticisms since rejoining Stoke in 2006. But looking at how the club have progressed under his superior management, we must be asking ourselves; is he the greatest manager Stoke have ever had?
Obviously a title such as that is currently held by the legendary Tony Waddington, with his most associated achievement being the League Cup in 1972. But there seems to be a continuing theme for Stoke with managers named Tony, as Pulis is proving to be one of the best managers in modern English football.
Pulis guided us to 2nd place and automatic promotion from the then Coca Cola Championship (now npower Championship) in 2007, with West Brom just piping us to the title. Expert acumen saw pivotal transfers such as Thomas Sorensen, Abdoulaye Faye and the return of Danny Higginbotham ready for the first Premier League campaign, in the clubs history. Although technically it was the first time in the top flight of English football for 23 years. Since then, Pulis has done a tremendous job for the club, not only with retaining Premier League status, but establishing ourselves as a resilient side, giving us the dream of visiting Wembley in the FA Cup not once but twice, and the prospect of Europe next season.
I feel that such an incredible mastermind such as Pulis deserves a shout out and a pat on the back from all of us. Yes we didn`t win the FA Cup and perhaps could have played a little better than we actually did, but let`s look at the bigger picture; he got us there. And he`s got us into Europe next year alongside another season in the top flight. He`s plucked players from places where they doubt themselves, and turned them round to become incredible assets for the club. All in all, he`s gradually building the foundations for more success for Stoke and that is something that should not be ignored.
Some may say that comparing him to Waddington isn`t quite comprehensible. Waddington secured promotion to Division One, collecting the Second Division title in the club's centenary season of 1962/63. He then established Stoke in Division One, reached two FA Cup semi-finals, and won the League Cup in 1972. So Waddo has an incredible success record for us, but let`s not forget that he saw more games as Stoke manager than Pulis. So perhaps in time, he will rival and even overtake the great Tony of the 70`s and write another chapter in the history of Stoke City. I, amongst so many fans, am looking forward to this.
So for now, thank you very much Tony Pulis for your continuous work and efforts for the club. You are very worthy of this year`s Manager of the Year award and fingers crossed that you do get that accolade.