Daniel Gregory: Expectations are spiralling out of control

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Browsing through the various national newspaper websites in the week, I stumbled across a baffling article about Stoke City manager Tony Pulis on the Guardian’s site.

The article, written by Stuart James and entitled ‘Tony Pulis may have taken Stoke City as far as he can in Premier League’, looks at whether or not the Welshman should walk away from the Britannia club as won’t be able to progress the club any further than he has already.

Now I’m far from a fan of Stoke City or their style of play. The robust style of play they adhere to week in-week out is very old school when you look at the tactics most modern clubs use and they are hardly the most exciting of clubs to watch are they?

But I challenge anyone to question the work their manager Tony Pulis has done since taking over for his second spell at the club in 2006 with the club having been bought by current owner Peter Coates.

They narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight in his first season, before making the step up the following campaign, and since then they have gone from strength-to-strength, making the FA Cup Final and qualifying for the Europa League in the process.

How many Stoke fans would have imagined a trip to Wembley and then those magical european nights when Pulis took over following the unceremonious departure of the club’s Icelandic owners, and manager Johan Boskamp along with them.

Pulis’ quotes recently sum the situation up perfectly for me. “If you’re given steak and chips every day, steak and chips becomes the norm,” Pulis said last week.

This could be true of most football fans these days. Football supporters have always been a fickle bunch, but they are getting worse.

The Stoke fans who would even consider questioning Pulis’ position, or even Pulis himself if he is thinking about walking away, ought to have a studious glance at the state of clubs who have gambled in similar situations.

Alan Curbishley left Charlton Athletic at the end of the 2005-6 campaign with the club in a very solid position.

Look at them now? Only just finding their way back up after a prolonged spell in League One.

At the end of the 2006-7 season, Sam Allardyce parted company with Bolton Wanderers after a hugely succesful period at the helm.

They have never managed to reach the same levels and now find themselves embroiled in a relegation scrap in the Championship.

Two more recent cases that spring to mind are those of former Wolves boss Mick McCarthy and ex-Blackburn manager Steve Kean.

Fair enough, both struggled in the latter parts of their respective tenures, but you can almost 100 per cent guarantee that both clubs wouldn’t be performing as poorly as they are if they’d have shown faith in the two managers.

It seems almost impossible to hold onto a job if you have the audacity to get relegated from the cash-rich Premier League in the modern game.

Kean was given the chance to start the following season, despite the disgusting behaviour of the Blackburn Rovers fans, and he was doing very well.

The club looked on course for a promotion charge - they sacked him and look at what has happened now.

I am almost certain that Wolves wouldn’t be embroiled in a real scrap to avoid a second successive relegation had they kept McCarthy at the helm.

How about, just to make a refreshing and sensible change, football clubs adopt a sense of realism and understand that maybe they have found their level and be happy not to be scrapping with the likes of Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton.

Either that or twist - sack Pulis, try and totally change your style of play with a more fashionable, continental manager at the helm, and risk losing the stability Pulis has installed at the Britannia.

The choice is yours Peter Coates, choose wisely.

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