Would Tony Pulis be right for Crystal Palace?

Sports Mole considers whether leading contender Tony Pulis would be the right man for the vacant Crystal Palace job.

With the Premier League just eight games into its new season, there have already been two managerial casualties. First Paolo Di Canio was sacked and replaced by Gus Poyet and now Ian Holloway is without a job following Crystal Palace's 4-1 defeat at home to Fulham.

There are a number of contenders to take Holloway's place at the struggling Eagles, but the early favourite has been Tony Pulis. It is uncertain whether the former Stoke City manager is interested in the job, but is he the right man for it?

The first thing to note would be the vastly different playing style that fans of the club would have to get used to. Holloway is the footballing antithesis of Pulis with his interest only in cavalier, attacking football often at the expense of top-flight results. Pulis has much more of an emphasis on strong, combative defenders and effective, if less attractive, football. This, however, does not have to be a bad thing.

Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on August 31, 2013© Getty Images

Under Pulis, Stoke were accused of using tactics akin to rugby, with strapping centre-backs bullying their strikers and big, strong forwards taking the aerial duel to their respective defenders. The result of this was goals mainly coming from headers or rebounds from the strikers or defenders from set-piece situations. Holloway has a preference for smaller, faster strikers such as Dwight Gayle, but the evidence is clear in the league table: it was not working.

For whatever criticism was thrown at Pulis and his tactics at Stoke, few would have ever considered Stoke as hot relegation candidates while he was in charge. The type of direct, physical football that he prefers - even if it is more often seen in the lower leagues - works. Stoke always managed to get enough points early enough in order to survive, and this is exactly what Palace need right now.

Another important factor when considering Pulis is that he has never managed a side to a relegation. He has, however, in the past had the time to build the team with the players he needs to succeed with his brand of football.

Barring Marouane Chamakh, who is woefully short of confidence at Premier League level, he does not have the sort of physical presence he would hope for up front and could do nothing about it until January. Would he be able to get Palace playing effective football with the players at the club's disposal?

Stoke City Manager Tony Pulis prior to kick-off during the match against Southampton on May 19, 2013© Getty Images

One thing is for sure: Palace need a new approach. Holloway made 16 signings in the summer and did not manage to find the right combination, as every result except one ended in defeat. In order to survive, the ship must be steadied and quickly, and Pulis would be a good candidate to do this. His Stoke side did not concede many - or score a lot, for that matter - and stopping the leaks is the number one priority.

There are tools to work with in the Palace squad that would allow Pulis some joy. Namely the pace on the flanks that the club has, in particular Yannick Bolasie, who is a vital member of the team. Pulis's teams look to get the ball in the box from all angles and as such he could look to Bolasie to carry some of the burden until he managed to get his own players in.

While Pulis would likely be a good choice for the short-term he would want a project and not just a stop-gap job, so Palace would need to buy into his philosophy if they were to hire him. His perceived reluctance to take on the challenge might be a stumbling block, but the Eagles need to look at bringing in stability and this is where Pulis excels.

Crystal Palace's Adrian Mariappa is congratulated by team mates after scoring the opening goal against Fulham on October 21, 2013© Getty Images

The club's co-chairman Steve Parish certainly has a choice to make, but out of the main contenders Pulis is the most proven. Would the fans, who are used to seeing exciting, attacking football take to him, or are they - like the club - now more concerned about getting the points in any way necessary?

These are questions that only the Palace hierarchy can answer. It is the most important decision in the club's recent history; if they make the wrong choice then Palace will once more be unable to survive in the top flight.

Kagisho Dikgacoi of Crystal Palace celebrates the opening goal with team mates, scored by Danny Gabbidon during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on August 31, 2013
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