So who should get the Sunderland job? Well, it might not be our decision, but we fancied getting the opinions of those who know the top candidates a little better. Each man will be rated on their tactics, man management, youth management, discipline and if they would be a good fit for us to give an overall score. First, we get a bit of help from ESPN blogger James Whittaker (@northstokie) to give us his verdict on former Stoke City boss Tony Pulis – being a Stoke fan, he’s got plenty to say!
I could talk about Pulis for hours; he really is a fascinating subject who has split the fans since the day he arrived. I'd like to point out that whilst a lot of the marks are low he did a fantastic job at Stoke in his first few seasons where expectation was low and it was backs against the wall. That's his forté; fire fighting, and he's damn good at it but it's just not sustainable - especially once you are stabilised and expectations start to rise. That’s where it all falls apart.
Tactical Nous - 6
I think 6 is a fair mark on this one. It's clear to see that he does his homework but his preparation for games is all about shape and about nullifying the opposition’s threat whilst counting on the basics and percentage football to get a goal on the break. He is very much a manager that sets out not to lose as opposed to win games. The team he picks will be based entirely on those players who will do exactly as he asks of them, this tends to favour those who perhaps aren't the best technically but who will run all day, even if they are played out of position.
When the "better" players who have been left out come on as subs and score or impress he will always revert to his favoured group, which is demoralising as it is frustrating for players and fans alike. In terms of changing a game that isn't going right he simply doesn't have a Plan B and tends to leave any substitutions too late and more often than not will change a game to not concede more as oppose to pull a goal or two back, he actually defends a narrow loss at times.
Man Management – 3
This for me is a big issue with Pulis. As I said above he favours players who do as they are told and are grateful to play and it is those who will run through walls for him but these aren't often those good enough to influence your attacking game. He has a complete mistrust of flair as it's something he can't control so you will see those players left out entirely and probably on their way. He's conscious of the fans wanting those players so every now and then in one of his ‘bonus games’ like Man Utd away he will select them, often out of position, knowing they will struggle to justify him reverting to type the following week.
Youth Management – 1
I've given a 1 as you didn't say I could use 0! Pulis as a rule mistrusts youth as much as he does flair. Our young player of the year for the last couple of years has been 24 or over with him much preferring to pay big for a proven player who is older and more experienced. The notion that young players should go out on loan instead of playing reserve or academy games is fair enough but all it does it make them go to other clubs so fans can't call for their inclusion. I know a few of the Academy lads at Stoke and they were very happy when he left and to be fair, you can't blame them.
Discipline – 6
As you can imagine he is not a man to be crossed and if you do your future is written in stone with no way back. It's often the more technical players this happens with and in his last season he was having to deal with more established players than the years previous who wanted to play a better game and he ended up getting stuck between a rock and a hard place. I've given him a higher mark than that explanation would perhaps suggest though because he does run a tight ship - any disagreements are kept private and he insists on an honest performance, no diving (you'll be fined) and no rolling around after a tackle unless limb removal or similar is imminent.
How good a fit is he for Sunderland? - 5
It all depends what you want, if you want him to sort out a mess and get people fighting for each other then he'll do well for the pickle you find yourself in this season. I could pick his team for you based on the players you have (established Premier League players) and that would be the group he would work with. As a result it would be very unlikely that you'd see anything of your latest foreign imports at all. Whether he would be a good fit for the longer term or not would be dictated by your goals past that initial season. I would suggest he wouldn't be a good fit based on what I know about your fans and Pulis himself. One of the main reasons he left was power being taken away from him in the shape of a Director of Football tasked with getting better value from the foreign markets which is completely at odds with his tried and tested ways of working. Given that is very much the same set-up you have and that your particular DoF isn't an old school name he trusts means that it is unlikely he would welcome the set-up let alone work well within it.
Overall score: 21/50
Not exactly the kind of score to argue the general consensus that he is not the right man for the job. It seems unlikely he will be the man to take over when you consider he probably does not even want it given the constraints of current set up. Let’s hope this is the case anyway!