Anthony Pulis: Like father like son for Saint Louis boss

Anthony Pulis
Anthony Pulis was appointed Saint Louis FC head coach in November 2017

His trainers are not always box-fresh and you won't see him in a baseball cap.

But he is a football manager and the name is Pulis.

Anthony Pulis is the son of Tony, the Welshman who has managed nine English clubs in a coaching career spanning almost three decades.

The younger Pulis is just 34 years of age, yet he is already in his fourth season as a head coach.

Having spent two years in charge of Orlando City B, he is now manager of Saint Louis FC in the United Soccer League, the second tier of football in the United States.

In many ways Pulis is a chip off the old block - although not when it comes to sartorial preferences.

"I am little bit smarter than dad," he says with a smile.

"A lot of people have asked me what I wear at a game. I go for a pair of trousers and a shirt or maybe a polo shirt.

"I give dad a bit of stick. I look smarter than him on the touchline - although I think he has a new pair of trainers every game."

Clothing aside, perhaps, Pulis Sr is an inspiration for his son.

Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis left Middlesbrough last month after 18 months in charge

"I know a lot of coaches have mentors and people they look to for advice, but I am very fortunate," he adds.

"I am very close to my dad - I speak to him nearly every day on the phone.

"He has managed more than 1,000 games in English football. There are not many who have done that and I would be stupid not to tap into his knowledge.

"Having said that, I am my own man. I have my own ideas on how things should be done and I am certainly not a clone of my dad.

"But I can pick the phone up whenever things come up because everything I go through, he has experienced."

The older Pulis is without a club having left Middlesbrough at the end of last season.

The likelihood is he will soon be back in a job. There are those who criticise Pulis' playing style, suggesting he focuses too much on defensive organisation and not enough on attacking flair.

But the 61-year-old's CV indicates he knows what he is doing.

He has managed three clubs in the Premier League - Stoke City, Crystal Palace and West Brom - and has never been relegated at any level.

"One of the biggest things I've taken from dad is that ultimately, you are judged on results," Anthony says.

"We all want to play like Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, but we haven't all got the players and the finances at our disposal.

"Guardiola is an unbelievable coach, someone I admire, but if I try to set my Saint Louis team up to play like Manchester City, we'd lose every week.

"I have to try to maximise the strengths of the players I have to get results.

"Sometimes that might be by playing good football, sometimes it might be by being compact, organised and striking on the counter-attack.

"You have to find ways to win because if you don't you lose your job.

"I love [Burnley manager] Sean Dyche. He is refreshing and honest. [Sheffield United's] Chris Wilder is another one.

"It's refreshing to hear him speak about old school values - hard work, respect, togetherness, cohesiveness, putting players in positions they are comfortable in.

"I think dad has done a fantastic job over the years of finding a way to win with the players he's had."

Anthony Pulis
Anthony Pulis (left) in action for Grimsby, one of the 11 English clubs he represented

Pulis was born in Bristol in 1984 - his dad was playing for Bristol Rovers at the time - but his parents both hail from Newport.

As a result, there were regular trips over the Severn river when he was growing up.

After beginning his playing career at Portsmouth, Pulis had spells at Stoke, Torquay, Plymouth, Grimsby, Bristol Rovers, Southampton, Lincoln, Stockport, Barnet and Aldershot before joining Orlando City as a player in 2012.

Pulis also represented Wales at under-21 level under Brian Flynn.

"Brian was a really good bloke and we had a good group," he says.

"I played with Wayne Hennessey, Joe Ledley, David Edwards, Andrew Crofts, David Cotterill. Gareth Bale was in one squad. Aaron Ramsey was just coming up. I was fortunate to play alongside some of those lads."

Pulis admits he did not achieve what he "set out to do" in his days as a midfielder, although he enjoyed three years as an Orlando player before moving into coaching full time.

"The sport is growing at a rate of knots in America and I feel I was lucky to get out here at the right time," Pulis says.

"I came out originally to see how it went for a year, but my wife and I were made to feel really welcome. It felt right. We got our green cards pretty quickly so we are permanent residents.

"Moving on to the coaching staff was a natural progression - it was something I always wanted to do."

Anthony Pulis
Anthony Pulis' Saint Louis FC attract average crowds of between 3,000 and 5,000

Saint Louis are currently in mid-table in the USL, but the target for both club and manager is to reach the MLS.

"I am starting at the bottom from a coaching standpoint, but I have always been a big believer in honing your craft and working your way up," Pulis says.

If the immediate goal is the MLS, a longer-term target is to work in the English leagues.

"I would be a liar if I said I didn't want to do that at some stage," Pulis adds.

"The difficult thing for me is that I have been in the States seven years - my reputation as a coach is here.

"It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity at some stage, but the only thing I can control is the work I am doing here every day.

"I am young. I don't want to look too far ahead. But I am ambitious.

"I want to be the best coach I can be. Whatever level that takes me to, so be it."

A return home, of course, could mean coming up against dad on the touchline.

"I know Lee Johnson has done that with Gary," Pulis says. "That would be great, but we'll have to see."

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