June 24, 2024

According to Tony Pulis, the West Bromwich Albion team he took over as manager was the worst he had ever taken over in his managing career. After taking over from Alan Irvine in January 2015, when Albion was very much in the relegation zone, Pulis finally guided the team to 13th place and the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Albion’s summer 2014 recruitment drive had been, to put it mildly, uneventful; while Pulis found utility in Craig Gardner and Joleon Lescott, as well as, somewhat, in the costly signing of Brown Ideye for the balance of that campaign, a number of other players, who had only been at the club for a few months, were promptly dropped by the Welshman.

Among other people, Pulis had little use for Jason Davidson, Cristian Gamboa, or Sebastien Blanco. In fact, Georgios Samaras was given permission to depart the team barely six months after joining, and one month under Pulis’s leadership, as the former manager of Stoke City and Crystal Palace applied harsh discipline to the team. But he had the support of seasoned players like Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Jonas Olsson, Ben Foster, and James Morrison.

Then, Darren Fletcher was signed by Albion prior to the winter transfer window closing, and he had a big effect while wearing the captain’s armband as the Baggies successfully concluded the season to pull themselves clear of danger. Though he had pleasant memories of his stay at The Hawthorns and his friendship with the previous proprietor, Jeremy Peace, Pulis was very confused by what he first saw.

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