Pulis vs Pep – clash of cul­tures

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORT -

MANCH­ESTER, Eng­land (AP): NE COACH will be wear­ing a base­ball cap, a track­suit, and sneak­ers. The other is usu­ally sharply dressed in a suit, tie, and shoes. One team will be de­fen­sively ro­bust, di­rect, and, likely re­ly­ing on goals from set pieces. The op­po­nent is highly tech­ni­cal, ob­sessed with pos­ses­sion, and easy on the eye.

Tony Pulis vs Pep Guardi­ola. West Bromwich Al­bion vs Manch­ester City.

Get ready for the Premier League’s ul­ti­mate cul­ture clash.

Upon ar­riv­ing at City this off-sea­son, Guardi­ola said one of his big chal­lenges was to prove to him­self and the world that his new team could play beau­ti­ful foot­ball no mat­ter what time of year, no mat­ter who the op­po­si­tion.

To­day, then, might be his most in­ter­est­ing test so far.

OThe 58-year-old Pulis is part of the fur­ni­ture in the Premier League, a coach who has taken charge of more than 1,000 first-team games in Eng­land and has proved to be the clos­est thing to a guar­an­tee against rel­e­ga­tion af­ter spells at Stoke, Crys­tal Palace, and now West Brom.

Us­ing a prag­matic strat­egy, he knows how to get per­for­mances from limited play­ers and re­sults for teams. At West Brom, he has of­ten played a de­fence con­tain­ing four cen­tre backs and his side has the big­gest aerial threat in the league, with four of its 10 league goals this sea­son com­ing from set pieces. Tall cen­tral de­fender Gareth McAu­ley has al­ready scored three.

Un­beaten Tot­ten­ham needed a last-minute goal to draw 1-1 at The Hawthorns two weeks ago, while West Brom were com­pletely dom­i­nated in a 2-1 loss at Liver­pool last week­end, only to score late – from a cor­ner – and set up a tense fin­ish.

“West Brom use Pulis’ style mar­vel­lously,” Guardi­ola said yes­ter­day. “I saw them against Tot­ten­ham – they use the long ball and they de­fend (deep). We have to adapt.”

That’s just what Guardi­ola is do­ing as he gets to grips with the re­lent­less de­mands of the English foot­ball cal­en­dar, which is dif­fer­ent to what he ex­pe­ri­enced at Barcelona and Bay­ern Mu­nich.

The Span­ish coach started with 10 straight vic­to­ries at City, but a League Cup loss to Manch­ester United on Wed­nes­day took the team’s win-less run to six games, the worst streak of Guardi­ola’s man­age­rial ca­reer.

“They are strug­gling at the mo­ment, from what ev­ery­body tells me,” Pulis said sar­cas­ti­cally, ref­er­enc­ing that City are still first in the Premier League af­ter nine games. “They are top of the league. They only just got beat by Man United by play­ing their sec­ond team on Wed­nes­day.

“They will play their first team against us def­i­nitely. It will be a tough game.”

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