Tony Pulis ready for management return after Napoleon's birthday

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Tony Pulis: Relaxed for now, but eyeing football return

Tony Pulis will be in Corsica this week to join celebrations for Napoleon Bonaparte's 250th birthday.

With more than 1,000 games in the dugout to his name, Pulis is an expert when it comes to football management.

The Welshman is also a student of historical leaders and, as he's currently between jobs, Pulis accepted an invitation to Napoleon's birthday party.

"Apparently in Ajaccio (the Corsican capital) they have a big festival," Pulis, 61, tells BBC Sport Wales.

"I have been invited by a French newspaper to go over there and have a day with them.

"I think they want me to give the British point of view - how we see and recognise Napoleon as a leader and as a person.

"He is one of many generals I have read up on and delved into why they became famous or infamous, whichever way you want to put it."

Pulis' interest stems back to the early days of his managerial career, which began at Bournemouth in 1992.

"I started reading about different leaders and their life stories," he explains.

"I have great respect for people like (Sir Winston) Churchill. He was part of the establishment - he always had that backing behind him.

"I tend to go more for people who have come from more humble backgrounds and become synonymous with greatness in respect of leadership.

"I am interested in people who have worked their way up and finding the common denominator as to why they have been successful."

Napoleon rose from relatively humble beginnings to become the Emperor of the French, building a reputation as one of the great military commanders.

"The way he moved up the ladder is extraordinary," says Pulis, manager of nine clubs over the last 27 years.

"He was fantastic in his early life on the battlefield and the Napoleon code of conduct even today stands strong in most European countries.

"There were a lot of bad things he did as well, but he was a great leader of men. His soldiers would commit everything, even their lives, for him."

Long march to the top

Pulis plays down the suggestion that football managers can take inspiration from military or political leaders.

But he does acknowledge that "in some ways" Napoleon's story reflects his climb from the docklands of Newport to the Premier League.

"I have been very fortunate with my life," Pulis adds. "I have been blessed to be able to do something I always wanted to do."

In his days as a defender, Pulis clocked up more than 300 league games for Bristol Rovers, Newport, Bournemouth and Gillingham.

Having started out in management with the Cherries, he has had stints at Gillingham, Bristol City, Portsmouth, Stoke City (twice), Plymouth, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Middlesbrough.

Pulis has been out of work since leaving Boro in May, hence there is time for a trip to Corsica.

But expect him to be back on more familiar territory soon, cajoling players from the technical area.

"I have enjoyed the break," he says.

"A few months off reinvigorates you, but I will still go to football every Saturday. I will keep my toe lightly dipped in the water and we will see what happens."

Pulis turned down an offer from abroad earlier in the summer because he wanted some time off, while there has been contact with "one or two people" about opportunities on these shores.

He will consider all options.

"The question will be, is it a challenge worth taking?" Pulis says. "Is it a challenge that tickles me in terms of getting out there and getting my hands dirty again?

"I am quite happy to wait and see what comes up. I will play it by ear."

Ryan Giggs and Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis, then manager at West Bromwich Albion, talks to Ryan Giggs during the Wales manager's spell as assistant at Manchester United.

One role that does not appeal - for the moment at least - is Wales manager, with Pulis preferring to give his support to current boss Ryan Giggs.

"I am not sure whether I am ready to do something that is not day in, day out," Pulis says.

"Ryan has got a massive task in front of him and everybody should get behind him. I hope he takes us to another tournament - it would be wonderful if he did."

Pulis might have stayed at Middlesbrough, where his relationship with owner Steve Gibson remains strong.

But with his 18-month contract up after defeat to Aston Villa in last season's Championship play-offs, Pulis felt the time was right to move on.

"Unfortunately, like a lot of clubs, Middlesbrough spent a hell of a lot of money in one window to gamble to get back into the Premier League and that gamble didn't pay off," he says.

"I joined six months after that and it was 18 months of trying to do the best we could on the field but also putting the finances back in order.

"It was a difficult trying to marry them together, but I have nothing but good memories of the people there. It's a smashing club."

An uncertain future

So where next for Pulis? The answer is unclear for now - but he does not expect to put down roots as he did at Stoke, who he managed for 10 years across two spells.

"You have to accept it is going to be short term unless you are very, very fortunate," he says.

"Years ago you could go to a club, spend some time there and build it up.

"But it's very difficult now to get any longevity because, irrespective of how well you have done, there will always be people, especially with the internet, who can do better than you.

"They expect more, expect more and expect more."

Even so, there is no temptation to pack it in, to swap the trademark baseball cap for a sun hat and watch other managers toil.

"Saturday is football - it has been that way for a long, long time in my life," Pulis says.

"Have I got enough energy in me and enough will power to want to do it again? Yes."

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