Tony Pulis and his iconic baseball cap are back in the dugout – with his Middlesbrough assignment the 59-year-old’s 10th managerial post.
But will Boro fans be doffing their caps to his achievements come the end of the season? We investigate…
Promotion pedigree…but there were failures too
The experienced Welshman is best known these days for his most successful managerial stints.
He transformed Stoke City from Championship also-rans into Premier League mainstays and saved Crystal Palace from near-certain relegation.
He’ll also go down as one of the best managers in Gillingham FC’s history – leading them to promotion from the fourth-tier, and a play-off final in the division above.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Underwhelming stints at several clubs, including Portsmouth – show he isn’t always the best fit. And if his most recent employers, West Bromwich Albion are relegated this term, many Baggies fans will point the finger of blame his way.
Pulis could be just what Boro need, but he hasn’t always been a safe pair of hands.
He’s likely to spend wisely
Middlesbrough aren’t the richest club in the Championship, but owner Steve Gibson has still been quick to dip into his pockets. Pulis’ predecessor Garry Monk shelled out a hefty £50m on signings in the summer.
Pulis’ success at Stoke was based largely on dependable, hard-working, well-priced performers. He bought the likes of Glenn Whelan, Robert Huth, Asmir Begovic and Ryan Shawcross to the club. None of them cost more than £5m.
Of course, there have been some poor buys in his tenure – but he could be the ideal man to strengthen Boro’s squad this month, and give them that vital something extra in the play-off hunt.
It’s very competitive, but they do have quality
It’s fair to say Monk wasn’t getting the most out of a pretty stellar squad.
Even before potential January additions, Pulis has the core of a good side at his disposal.
They’ve still got essentially the same defence which was the tightest outside the Prem top 10 last season. And at the other end, the likes of Britt Assombalonga and Martin Braithwaite are quality finishers who can also put themselves about.
With promotion for table-toppers Wolverhampton Wanderers all-but-confirmed, there are only two spots left to play for – and a host of clubs in contention.
But overall, the signs suggest Boro could be the value bet in the promotion pack, with Pulis in charge. And having won back-to-back games ahead of this weekend, a cautious optimism is creeping in at the Riverside Stadium.
The Welshman’s fourth game as manager sees Middlesbrough take on Fulham on Saturday. The hosts are 11/10 for victory on Teesside.
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