Old Heads are Experts at Giving Destiny and Lady Luck a Helping Hand
Gavin Blackwell reflects on the Tony Pulis appointment

One factor of football that remains ever constant when the leaves drop off the trees in Autumn, and the arrival of wet weather and heavy pitches, is the traditional wave of manager departures. The middle week of November alone saw two Championship clubs lose faith and with it the main man being shown the door.

This is a decision that effects so many people in a football club. From the managers secretary right down the academy. I can recall in November 1997 when I was attending a tribute dinner for our all-conquering youth team. The Academy manager at the time took to the stage to highlight the achievements of the team. When he opened his speech in front of the owner, fellow directors and chief executive with: “Today is a very sad day for me my friend and colleague as just been sacked by this football club.” With him pulling punches in the process resulting in him being reprimanded the next day.

This highlighted the raw emotion of a departure. It made me think how clubs often turn to experience in the situation they find themselves in. They do this in the hope that they can restore normal service that is winning games of football. Sheffield Wednesday are a prime example of that following the departure of Gary Monk. The owner opting to appoint someone who some people would term old school in Tony Pulis. His brand or style of football is not for me. But what is a style or brand of football the so-called type of football often down to the players you have at your disposal. Being organised, disciplined hard to beat are key components. Starting with a point and hopefully adding to it going a goal up meaning the opposition have got to get two to possible win.

Pulis and his team around him will set the standards that he will want and expect anyway - hard work on the training ground, some would say repetitive. What that ensures is everyone knows the roles and responsibilities in whatever team formation shape, whatever you want to call it. So, it becomes second nature during ninety plus minutes. In appointing an old stager, the thinking goes like this:

‘A large power plant broke down causing major disruption. Numerous engineers tried to solve the problem but failed. The top brass called in an old-timer who had long since retired. He immediately went down into the labyrinth of the factory, tapped on a particular pipe, and the system restarted with full power. The old man then submitted his bill for one thousand and two francs: two francs for knowing which pipe to tap.’

Having flare may impress the sophisticated, but honest-to-goodness know-how (a potent blend of experiential knowledge, ability, and the lessons of trial and error) is the key quality which separates the winners from the losers in hard, practical world of both professional and non-League football.

Following his appointment it is very much a work in progress, apart from the defeat at Huddersfield. The have been good performances, however it is results that matter. 

The games leading up to the trip to Carrow Road highlighted a classic team at the wrong end of the table suffering from a lack of confidence, belief and being able to see games  out. By not allowing the opposition get a foothold in games causing heads to drop that's an area of concern and common trait of a struggling team. A couple of sending offs have also not helped the situation. Something Pulis will have addressed internally and tightened up on I'm sure. He cannot have any complaints about the effort of the players something that's been evident for all to see (apart from the first 30 minutes at Huddersfield) and frustrating that they haven't picked up more points for the efforts need stop individual errors proving costly. 

Going forward hopefully the belief and confidence will get stronger by working hard on the training ground and getting some points on the board. Going in to the crucial festive period  we need to be staying in and around the other teams as it is very Important not fall further behind. Then add a bit more quality and much needed striker in the window, something that hinders a Manager nowadays as at one time you could add a couple of players to freshen things up immediately to impact the group. Pulis his staff and players will be working hard on the training ground. He will look to complete his backroom staff with a Goalkeeping coach if he hasn't already done so. We have an experienced manger whose style of play is winning. 

What we do know is old heads are experts at giving destiny and Lady Luck a helping hand.


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