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November 21, 2017

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West Brom sacks Pulis amid bid to stay in EPL

Struggling English Premier League team West Bromwich Albion fired manager Tony Pulis yesterday despite his reputation as a virtual guarantee against relegation.

The move seemed inevitable after West Brom’s 0-4 loss at home to Chelsea on Saturday, which dropped the team to within a point and a place of the relegation zone. It left West Brom with just two wins in its last 21 league games stretching back to last season.

“We are in a results business,” West Brom chairman John Williams said, “and over the back end of last season and this season to date, ours have been very disappointing.”

Assistant coach Gary Megson will take temporary charge of the team, whose next match is against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Pulis, who was in charge for nearly three years, has never been relegated in 25 years and more than 1,000 league games in soccer management.

Only 12 of 38 rounds have been played in the EPL, so there was still plenty of time for Pulis to turn things around. Yet there was no sign of West Brom’s form improving and the club’s fans had lost patience with Pulis and his pragmatic style of football.

A disgruntled section of the support has called for his departure in recent games.

West Brom came under new ownership last year, with Chinese businessman Lai Guochuan becoming the majority shareholder. Lai was at the game against Chelsea and is now tasked with finding a new manager, with Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes linked to the post.

The club from central England had a net spend of about 30 million pounds (US.$40 million) last summer and enriched the squad with some trumpeted arrivals like Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain, left back Kieran Gibbs from Arsenal, and winger Oliver Burke from RB Leipzig.

Pulis had better players and a deeper squad at his disposal, but failed to get the most out of them. He clearly missed Darren Fletcher, the club captain who surprisingly left in the offseason to join Stoke City. Dovetail that with continued criticism of his approach — direct, risk-averse — and it was no surprise there were calls for change.

West Brom has scored just nine goals in 12 games this season.

Pulis, who has also managed Stoke and Crystal Palace in the EPL, became West Brom’s manager in January 2015, taking over when the Baggies were in a precarious position but guiding them from 17th to 13th by the end of the season.

Pulis is the fifth English top-flight manager to lose his job during the 2017-18 season after Palace’s Frank de Boer, Leicester City’s Craig Shakespeare, Everton’s Ronald Koeman and West Ham United’s Slaven Bilic.


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