GERRO’S GOODI TO GO Kop king targets derby return
Miracle worker Pulis is a REAL managerial giant Tony wants his Mama back
WHEN the votes are totted up at the end of the season, the manager of the year gong will probably end up in the bathroom cupboard at Alex Ferguson’s house.
It might end up at Roberto Mancini’s plush pad. Or it could end up in Andre VillasBoas’ arse pocket.
Beyond that? The rest of the Premier League’s managers have got about as much chance of lifting that prize as Mark Lawrenson has of winning Barnet of the Year.
The bookies agree. I asked. The latest odds for Ferguson are 11-8. Mancini is 2-1 and Villas-Boas is 7-1. The rest? All double figures.
Like the destination of the league title, or the Champions League, it’s all just so predictable.
So how about the powers that be do something different for once? How about they look at the bigger picture?
Forget the clubs that fork out the biggest wages and pay the most eye-popping transfer fees. Or the gaffers that can tempt talent with an honours list, a swanky stadium and the lure of more guaranteed silverware.
Instead, look at the REAL bosses. The men who have to bridge that gap any way they can. The chiefs who have to dream up a system to upset the big boys. Those left to feed on the transfer scraps left on the side of the plate by the cash-splashing big four, or five, or whatever the f*ck it is these days. icking all the boxes in this department is Stoke’s top man Tony Pulis. In his favoured cap and shell-suit he looks more like a chav on the rob than a Premier League manager.
But he’s upsetting the old guard again and again. A draw with Chelsea. A win over Liverpool. A draw with Manchester United. All with a team of players cast aside by the elite.
That’s true management. A real feat. Pulis has Stoke playing to their strengths. Strong on setpieces, full of spirit, difficult to beat. And they can play a bit, too.
Three years ago they were in
Tthe Championship. Yes, they stick the boot in now and again, and they’re not averse to a meaty boot upfield but so what? That’s always been a part of football. And if it works for Pulis and the Potters, why stop? ulis has enjoyed some steady backing in the transfer market, let’s not forget that. But come on, have you been to the place? Luring top players to that neck of the woods is a real feat.
And joking aside, establishing Stoke as a side now capable of a top-six finish – and in Europe too – is a miracle of water into wine proportions in the modern game.
Don’t forget, too, that last season they were 90 minutes away from winning the FA Cup before, like a huge wash of piss pouring into your bag of chips, big bad Manchester City came along and ruined the fairytale.
The Stoke fans deserve a mention too. Ear plugs should be standard issue on entrance to the Britannia. Because the noise generated by the City faithful is something to behold.
The consistent straining of vocal chords in Staffordshire is refreshing. That’s true support.
So Tony Pulis, I doff my chav cap to you. It’s just a damn shame the boring f*ckers who hand out awards won’t do the same.
PSTEVEN GERRARD is in the frame to be fully unleashed on Everton in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Gerrard has made two substitute outings after a seven-month absence with a groin problem.
Liverpool chief Kenny Dalglish has already claimed he will have to judge when the time is right for the star midfielder to be plunged back into his side.
But the Reds skipper will now step up his fitness in training with a view to making his first start of the season at Goodison.
Assistant boss Steve Clarke said: “Steven will dictate the pace of his comeback with how he progresses in training.
“We’re delighted with the stage he’s at and with everything he’s done for us.
“We’ve got a full week now and we can use him well in training.”
Gerrard’s presence will add to Liverpool’s attacking options with razor-sharp Luis Suarez in top form.
The Uruguay hitman’s goal and man-of-the-match display helped Liverpool bounce back from successive league defeats to down Wolves last time out.
But Clarke has branded fifth-placed Liverpool’s start to the season as “average” after Dalglish’s summer rebuilding job.
Clarke added: “Without getting too carried away or too disappointed, it’s probably just an average start.
“You’re probably looking at about a seven out of 10.
“There have been some pleasing performances and some not so pleasing.
“But you’d expect that from a group of players where you’ve made so many changes and you’re trying to bed a few things down.” TONY PULIS is set for a triple injury boost to power up Stoke’s Europa League bid.
Potters striker Mama Sidibe is ready to end 13 months of injury hell and play for the reserves against Nottingham Forest today.
Sidibe, 31, has not played since the clash with Spurs last August after two serious Achilles injuries but is pencilled in to make his comeback.
Ricardo Fuller and Danny Higginbotham are also expected to return in the next fortnight to bring extra bodies to Pulis’s Europa League campaign.
Fuller, 31, and Higginbotham, 32, have not played since April after Achilles and knee injuries respectively.
Pulis said: “We are playing a lot of games this season and we need all the players we can get available.
“Mama has had a lot of bad luck over the last year but is a big player for us.”
UPSETTING THE OLD GUARD: Pulis FIGHTING BACK TO