Tony Pulis is rumoured to be set to take charge of Sheffield Wednesday | Stephen Pond/Getty Images
It seems weird to think there was a time when Sheffield Wednesday were a fixture in the Premier League.
Twenty arduous seasons have passed since the Owls last graced the top flight – four of which were spent in the third tier – and to make matters worse, their fierce city rivals Sheffield United are now enjoying a spell of dining at England’s top table.
Tony Pulis last managed Middlesbrough before leaving the club in 2019 | George Wood/Getty Images
Wednesday currently find themselves rooted to the foot of the Championship and without a manager following the departure of Garry Monk, with veteran boss Tony Pulis rumoured to be set to sign a two-and-a-half-year deal at the club.
Now, there’s two things the arrival of Tony Pulis will guarantee you. First of all, he’ll be a walking advertisement for absolutely every piece of clobber on offer in the club shop. Secondly, he’ll make you tough to beat and keep you in the league.
Notice how that list didn’t include ‘he’ll get you promoted to the Premier League’? That there is why Wednesday fans should be extremely wary of his appointment.
Had the Owls hierarchy offered the former Stoke boss a deal until the end of the season, then their fans would have every right to be optimistic. Stay in the league and then regroup in the summer.
Tony Pulis couldn’t get Middlesbrough promoted | Athena Pictures/Getty Images
However, if the speculation regarding a two-and-a-half-year deal is to be believed, Wednesday fans could be in for a rocky ride.
Many people will point to the fact Pulis has enjoyed success in the second tier previously, most notably when he defied the odds in guiding the Potters to their first stint in the Premier League in 2008. But England’s second tier is a very different league to what it was 12 years ago.
The gap between the Premier League and the Championship has massively decreased. No longer is the league strewn with robust target men and clumsy centre-backs – Sol Bamba’s still plying his trade there, granted – but instead the division is full of teams playing with intensity, pace and energy.
Pulis’ previous spell in the Championship massively highlighted how out of touch he was with the league. Having taken over at Middlesbrough in 2017, the Welshman never really looked like threatening the automatic promotion places, despite Boro’s squad being full of quality operators.
It’s been a while since Pulis’ successful stint with Stoke | Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
While a seventh-place finish in his only full season in charge is certainly not to be sniffed at, the squad he had at his disposal was far better than that, and with the right man in charge the Teessiders should have been challenging for promotion.
Having been greeted with open arms by the Boro faithful following the sacking of Garry Monk (hang on – this sounds familiar) Pulis certainly steadied the ship at the Riverside, but the football that he brought with him was enough to bring you to tears.
No energy, no passion, no endeavour, absolutely nothing. There was no game plan, the whole system was built around the hope they’d win a throw-in, then Ryan Shotton would launch it into the box and maybe a second ball would drop to the right man. That’s no way to play football.
When you consider Boro’s squad contained Barcelona man Martin Braithwaite (when he wasn’t throwing a paddy and asking for a loan move), current fifth top scorer in the Premier League Patrick Bamford and one of the most sought after properties in the top flight in Adama Traore, suddenly that seventh-place finish begins to look a little underwhelming.
Should the veteran tactician take the Hillsborough hot seat, there’s also the issue of the players he’ll be greeted with. For a number of years now, Barry Bannan has been one of Wednesday’s top performers.
Wednesday captain Barry Bannan has already spoken of his dislike for Pulis’ management style | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images
The 30-year-old is the lynchpin of the Owls midfield and is central to most of their play. If Pulis is given the job this won’t be the first time the pair have worked together – having both been at Crystal Palace in 2013/14 – with the midfielder describing his former boss (and Neil Warnock) as “the worst managers for the way I play” during an interview with Open Goal.
Bannan went on to add: “To be fair, he was that honest with me it was unreal. He grabbed me in half way through the season and was like, ‘if I was managing a team that was going to play football you would be the first name in my team but we’re fighting for our lives so.…’”
In summary, if Pulis is appointed Sheffield Wednesday manager, they’ll be getting a boss who is out of touch with the league, couldn’t achieve promotion with some of the best players in the division and has already told the Owls’ best player that he wouldn’t pick him in his team if they were fighting relegation – which they are.
So, best not get too optimistic Wednesday fans. But look on the bright side: sales of club merchandise will go through the roof.