Tony Pulis became the latest managerial casualty of the 2017/18 Premiership season after West Brom’s owners lost patience with him following a dreadful run of results. The Baggies have won just twice in their last 21 league games and fans vented their frustration as the club plummeted down the table. A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea on Saturday left them just a point above the relegation zone and that was the nail in the coffin for Pulis. But the big question is: have West Brom been too hasty in dismissing a man that specialises in getting teams out of relegation trouble?
Pulis worked miracles at Crystal Palace in keeping them up four years ago, and performed a similar job at West Brom. When he took over in January 2013, they were 17th and in real trouble. But the Welshman’s arrival provided the catalyst for change and the team went on an excellent run, eventually finishing 13th in the table. They finished 14th in the following campaig and 10th last season, which is impressive considering Pulis was operating on a limited budget compared to some of his rivals. But they have been stuck in a rut of late and taken just 12 points from 21 games since March. They won their first three games of the current season, but have since drawn four and lost seven of their subsequent 11 matches and are in real trouble.
Their next three games are all massive, against Tottenham, Newcastle and Crystal Palace. The latter will be a huge relegation six pointer, but if you check a review of Heritage Sports to find the best odds around you will see that West Brom are not given much of a chance of winning their upcoming games. They are currently fourth favourites to be relegated, with only West Ham, Palace and Swansea commanding shorter odds at present. They need to buck their ideas up quickly if they are going to beat the drop, and West Brom have taken a colossal gamble by sacking Pulis.
A new manager often galvanises a club, but to axe a man with such a strong record of beating the drop certainly seems risk. West Brom could improve after his departure, but they could get even worse, and they need to think long and hard before appointing his replacement.
This could be the start of a managerial merry-go-round. Swansea are now second from bottom, struggling in front of goal and in miserable form. They sacked two managers last season before Paul Clement got them out of trouble, but now Clement is facing the axe. Swansea’s hierarchy must be sorely tempted to roll the dice, fire Clement and make Pulis a huge offer to rescue them. He has done so with aplomb at Palace and West Brom, and his mere presence would give everyone at the club a lift.
Meanwhile, West Ham must be kicking themselves. They sacked Slaven Bilic after an abysmal sequence of results and deliberated for a long time on who would replace him, before eventually settling on David Moyes. The Scotsman’s first game in charge was a bit of a disaster as they lost 2-0 to Watford on Sunday and the fans were mutinous. If only they had held on another week, they could have signed Pulis. Moyes took Sunderland down last season and may not be the man to save the Hammers, but you would not bet against Pulis pulling it off. There are sure to be plenty more casualties as nervous owners start fearing the drop, and the likes of Mark Hughes and Mauricio Pellegrino may be looking over their shoulders in the weeks ahead.