Tony Pulis was unveiled as the new West Bromwich Albion manager on Friday, but has refused to guarantee their Premier League safety.
Since finishing in a credible eighth place in 2012-13, the Baggies have endured a difficult time in English football’s top-flight. A run of four successive defeats cost Steve Clarke his job in December 2013, and his replacement, Pepe Mel, only managed to keep them in the division by a margin of just three points, before he left the club by mutual consent a day after the season finished.
Alan Irvine, who had previously been sacked at both Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday, was in the dugout as the current campaign began, but after winning just four of their opening 19 games he was dismissed on 29 December with his side just one point above the relegation zone. Pulis was immediately made favourite to succeed the Scot, and he has now been unveiled.
The 56-year-old, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract, earned a reputation as a solid manager during his second spell in charge of Stoke City, during which he led then to and established them in the Premier League. And last season, against all odds he kept Crystal Palace in the top-flight before leaving on the eve of the new season due to a disagreement over his transfer budget.
Pulis, who had been linked with a host of clubs in recent weeks, will take control of his first match against non-league Gateshead on Saturday afternoon. However, it is undoubtedly Premier League survival which Jeremy Peace and the Albion board crave, and whilst Pulis is refusing to offer any guarantees, he knows a united front will benefit their cause.
“The most important thing is that everyone works together, irrespective of who makes the decisions,” he said at his first press conference. “The infrastructure of this football club is in place, but that’s secondary. What happens on the pitch comes first and if you don’t have the team to win games, then all the surroundings fall away to insignificance. Everybody understands the position we’re in.
“The fact the club has been struggling and only won four games at the Hawthorns in 2014 means that something is wrong and has to be sorted out. Just because I’m here now doesn’t mean we will stay up. There is a lot of work to do and we have to pull together to make sure the club stays up; the relationship between manager and chairman is the biggest at any football club.”
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