West Brom boss Tony Pulis will take charge of his 1,000th game as a manager at former club Stoke on Saturday and says that one of the biggest changes during his career has been footballers becoming “film stars”.
The 58-year-old, who drew his first game in management with Bournemouth in 1992 on a plastic pitch at Preston, admits that a return to Stoke “could not have been scripted better”.
“Players live a different life now,” he said. “In a world where they get everything, they’ve become film stars.”
Pulis managed the Potters for 464 matches over two spells and comes up against his old side with them bottom of the early Premier League table.
But the Welshman – who has also managed Crystal Palace in the Premier League – expects current Stoke boss Mark Hughes to steer his side away from trouble.
“You couldn’t have scripted it better to be honest, the fact that I’m going back to Stoke,” Pulis said.
“It’s fantastic. Whichever way the result goes, my 1,000th game will be at Stoke and I had great times there.
“Everything changes so quickly. A couple of games and Stoke could be two-thirds of the way up the table. What you’ve got to do, and I don’t have to tell Mark how to manage, is to keep your feet on the ground. Keep looking ahead, keep pointing ahead and hope that things change.
“They have a very strong squad there and it’s a surprise that they are down at the bottom. I’m sure they will get out of it – I just hope that it’s not on Saturday that they start.”
‘The Premier League is no reflection on real life’
Pulis first took charge of Bournemouth in the third tier of English football in August 1992, as the first Premier League season got under way.
His big signing that summer was striker Steve Fletcher for £30,000. This summer he broke West Brom’s transfer record to spend £13m on Nacer Chadli.
He has been in charge for 277 Premier League games, 282 in the second tier, 258 in the third and 46 in the fourth.
Pulis has also won games in the FA Cup, League Cup, Football League Trophy and the Europa League.
“I could sit here all afternoon and talk about what has changed,” Pulis said.
“Human beings have changed, the world has changed. Professional football, especially the Premier League, is no reflection on real life to me now.
“I would never have changed apprentices coming in and doing apprenticeships and realising how fortunate they are, even to be apprentices, never mind make the professional grade. But we can’t change life – you have to move with the times.
“Everybody wants change now. If you don’t like a programme straight away you can turn it over. Years ago we had ITV and BBC and that was it. You were stuck with it. Today there are a million channels.
“People are like that. You have a brand new phone, two months later a new one comes out and the lads are queuing up for it. I’ve had my phone for about 30 years and I still can’t use it properly.
“But I still love the game. I have been very, very lucky. I have been blessed really. I understand how lucky I have been.”
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