West Brom has been horrendous to start the Premier League season, leaving the club with little choice but to move on from Tony Pulis.

By 90Min
November 20, 2017

Though there will be cries of 'be careful what you wish for' from those determined to condemn West Brom fans to an eternal purgatory of dire, uninspiring football, the decision to part with Tony Pulis is one long overdue.

Some have insisted that the Baggies can hope for no better manager. "What more do they want?" they ask in exasperation. What could be better for a West Brom fan than endlessly surviving relegation from the Premier League, finishing comfortably in mid-table and reaching that magical 50-point mark.

Ambition and hopes of progression are not for modest clubs like West Brom. They should be happy with Pulis. Who better to keep them up, to wake them from their seemingly inexorable slump and take them to the heights of mid-table obscurity once again?

Except the club's fans were clearly not happy. Perhaps it was the obvious stagnation, the tedious, monotonous football served up at the Hawthorns ever more frequently.

Even without the insipid football, Pulis' recent record prior to his dismissal was inexcusable. He had led his side to a mere three victories in 24 matches, four successive defeats and 17th place in the Premier League.

When the results turn, so do the supporters, particularly when they have sat through hours of tepid football, and paid good money for the privilege. 

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Pulis has often been labeled a pragmatist, able to adapt and lift struggling clubs when appointed. But at West Brom it seemed he was growing increasingly dogmatic, stuck in his ways, unwilling or perhaps unable to change. Like a number of his British managerial counterparts, he has come to represent conservatism and inflexibility.

"I know as well as everybody else you have to get results," Pulis said before he was dismissed. "That’s what it’s about." But it's not just about results; as was the case at Stoke, a decline in form only accentuated a lack of ideas, a complete disregard of any long-term plan or innovation.

West Brom now need a change of direction; they need results too, of course, but more importantly they need a coach capable of inspiring progression, after years of sideways - and now backwards - steps.

It's a difficult balance to strike - there is a philosophical dilemma for clubs like West Brom in the top flight, unlikely to be able to bridge the gap to the league's elite but equally discontent with simply surviving at all costs.

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But, under Pulis, there seemed not even a feint possibility of any noticeable improvement. Despite the importance that is placed on results, there has to be more than that in the long-term. There wasn't under Pulis; no entertainment or artistic license, and thus no incentive for fans to show any enthusiasm towards the football on display, even if it occasionally resulted in victory.

The 59-year-old might still have his place: a safety net for clubs in desperate need of results, the man to steady the ship and all the other cliches he could be associated with, but fans soon become tired and fatigued by his approach.

"I think we’ve got better players this year than what we had last year," Pulis said. "I think the squad is stronger but you need results, we’ve not got the results that we want. Everybody sees that. I can throw James Morrison, Nacer Chadli, even Oliver Burke, who I thought would bring a little bit of quality and more of a threat going forward."

And therein lay the biggest problem. Pulis had a better squad at his disposal, but West Brom have only declined, and been left with little choice but to make a change.

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