Palace fans hoping Pulis sticks around
Watching a team like Crystal Palace means you're always preparing for the next disaster -- they're one of those teams that clutches defeat from the jaws of victory. In just the last 22 years of my lifetime I've seen the team fall into administration twice, get relegated four times and seen countless star men leave just when they were threatening to make an impression.
So you'll forgive me if I read the worst into Tony Pulis' comments last Friday. The baseball-capped one told reporters at his weekly news conference with a cheeky grin on his face: "You can never guarantee that I'll be here next season."
He may have just been playing it cool, considering he will almost certainly ask the board for a new contract this summer after steering Palace to potentially their third ever highest finish in the top flight. But of course my mind is racing with scenarios where Pulis walks out of the club having built the biggest platform for genuine success in years.
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There are reports he may be at loggerheads with the board over how much they are willing to give him for summer transfers. Pulis reportedly wants around 30 million pounds to bring in new faces to Selhurst and if I was chairman I would give it to him.
Admittedly if I was chairman of Palace the first thing I would do is erect a statue of Attilio Lombardo outside Selhurst Park and demand that all players get the Italian’s iconic monk haircut. I’d also name every stand at the ground after myself, install sofas in the main stand for a more comfortable viewing experience and make takeaway pizza the only food on offer from all the vending stands.
Then -- and only then -- would I consider Pulis’ demand for a big transfer kitty and I’d definitely let him have what he wants. He could have the keys to Croydon and all The Crystals' phone numbers for all I care, considering the job he has done.
Not only did he almost single-handedly win me 200 pounds for keeping Palace up after I put my last fiver on the Eagles avoiding relegation back in October when they were rock bottom of the league on just four points, he has changed the whole attitude of the club. No longer do the fans or board see themselves as plucky or little.
Crystal Palace are now a team to be feared. Selhurst is a ground that teams don’t fancy coming to. Even Liverpool fans, with their team visiting SE25 on Monday evening, are not confident about coming away with the result they need to continue their Premier League push.
And that is why Pulis deserves the Manager of the Year title. Not just for keeping the club up but for pushing them on to the next level. For equalling a club record five wins on the bounce in the top flight, for earning the club untold amounts of millions and for restoring that pride and confidence in the players and fans.
That would have seemed a fantasy scenario when he was appointed in November last year; now it is a reality. That is a much bigger job than Brendan Rodgers has managed at Liverpool with the countless millions he has at his fingertips.
If Liverpool win the league then you can argue Rodgers possibly deserves it but if Pulis and his Palace team beat the Reds on Monday night -- ending their title hunt -- then the award should be coming to South London.
And hopefully that will persuade Pulis to stick around for another year or more.