I had written this Blog on @football_p
(Why Pardew and Pulis are my contenders for “Manager of the Year”)
In a league where managers have enhanced their reputations like Sir Alex Ferguson becoming the “Grand Daddy of English Football” for his success and longevity at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger being named “Manager of the Decade” for the unbelievable work he has done at Arsenal, Jose Mourinho the “Special One” helping Chelsea win the league for the first time in over 50 years or Rafa Benitez winning the Champions League with Liverpool. The list goes on to include the likes of Redknapp, Moyes and Curbishley and this just adds to the romance of the beautiful game that is- Football.
But two of the household names that might have slipped people’s attention are Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis.
Newcastle United are a massive club, over fifty thousand passionate Geordies gather up at Tyneside to watch their heroes play every weekend. But along with the undoubted support the fans offer, comes great expectations. There is a quote that says that - the only job tougher than managing England is being the manager at Newcastle, and that says quite a lot.
Newcastle were in trouble when they got relegated in 2009, but they came back into the Premier League the following season under Chris Hughton. Therefore it was a shock to all of us when Newcastle fired Hughton and appointed Alan Pardew as his successor. Fifteen months on, Pardew and his Newcastle side have made many fans and pundits eat humble pie.
With the sale of Carroll, Nolan, Barton and Enrique it appeared that all the hard work done was going to the drains and pundits had tipped Newcastle United to be a part of the relegation dog fight, instead Newcastle are in contention for a Champions League berth.
The goals of Carroll and Nolan have been replaced by the irrepressible Demba Ba. The Senegalese who arrived on a Bosman has become one of the feared hit men in the League. The former Lille playmaker Johan Cabaye and his partner in crime Cheik Tiote are one of the best midfield duos and appear a steal for the combined 8m that Newcastle spent on them and the fans even have a new No.9 to cheer in new signing Papiss Cisse. Hatem Ben Arfa has brought the crowd onto their feet with moments of pure magic (his solo goal against Blackburn in the FA Cup), while the likes of Coloccini, Taylor and Krul make up a well organized back line. The credit for all of this has to go to Alan Pardew and his scouting system.
After draws against Arsenal and Tottenham, Newcastle suffered their first defeat of the season in mid November at Manchester City; a team that has a perfect home record. They have taken four points out of a possible six from the Champions (fans can even get a DVD of their comfortable win against Manchester United).
Disciplined, hard working, well organized,a never say die attitude and great work ethic – with these qualities Pardew has created a team in his mould that has made this Newcastle team easy on the eye and with them being only 4 points behind fourth placed Arsenal, they are the neutral’s favorites to finish the season in fourth spot and give Alan Pardew the chance to win “Manager of the Year”.
Last season was Stoke City’s third in the Premier League following their promotion in 2008 and Stoke City finished the season in a respectable 13th position. The efforts put in by them to stabilize themselves in the Premier League were also rewarded when they reached the FA Cup final last year.
Tony Pulis arrived for his second spell at Stoke in May 2006 and has since taken his team from playing at the “Madejski” to the “Mestella” in a period of five years.
While the likes of Shawcross, Delap, Whelan, Fuller, Sorensen and Higginbotham that played on Boxing Day in 2008 are still at the club, Pulis has also managed to add a little bit of extra quality in the form of Etherington, Crouch, Pennant, Huth and Woodgate.
Their specialty from set-pieces, those long Delap throws and their formidable home record has also seen them create their own identity at a time when clubs like Blackpool and Reading have been relegated even though their style of football was pretty on the eye.
While Manchester United continue to lose ground on Barcelona on the European stage, people never doubt the Potter’s ability and even ponder whether “the mighty Barcelona will be able to hack it on a cold, wet and windy Tuesday night at Stoke”.
With Stoke City fourteen points clear of the relegation zone and sitting comfortable in thirteenth position (once again), the Stoke fans will surely be happy with their side combining Domestic and European excursions this season and will be ready to raise the roof of the “Britannia Stadium” as they celebrate one more successful year in the Premier League with Tony Pulis at the helm.
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