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Pulis mulls ‘funny old game’ ahead of 1,000th match

Tony Pulis before the match

West Bromwich Albion’s Tony Pulis reached for one of the oldest cliches in the book as he looked forward to his 1,000th match in management and a return to his former club Stoke City on Saturday.

“Football is a funny old game,” observed the Welshman, who started the campaign as the bookmakers’ favourite to become the first managerial sacking of the Premier League season.

“We created better chances than we did against West Ham at Bournemouth and didn’t score,” Pulis added on Thursday, referring to the last away game that West Brom lost 1-0 on the south coast.

Mark Hughes, the man who replaced him at Stoke in 2013, is now ahead of him in the likely firing line after the Baggies beat West Ham United 4-2 last week to go 10th in the standings. Stoke are in last place with one point from five games.

Pulis’s future has been under scrutiny since the Midlands club changed ownership, with Chinese investment group Yunyi Guokai (Shanghai) Sports Development Ltd completing their takeover last week.

The manager, who took over in January 2015, has also been disappointed at the club’s failure to sign some of his transfer targets in the close season.

He said on Thursday that West Brom had decided against taking on two further potential signings, forward Marouane Chamakh and defensive midfielder Mohamed Sissoko who had ‘moved on’ after trials.

“Getting to 1,000 games in management, and for the game to drop at Stoke, its amazing really,” Pulis told reporters. “When I come out of football I’ll look back and think of my 1,000 games as an achievement. Now it’s just the next game for me.

“I have been privileged and honoured to have managed a lot of clubs on the way to taking charge of 1,000 games.”

The 58-year-old will be the 25th manager in English soccer’s modern era to reach 1,000 competitive matches, joining a group that includes Matt Busby, Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Bobby Robson, Graham Taylor and Roy Hodgson.

Pulis started out as manager at AFC Bournemouth in 1992 before further stints at lower league Gillingham, Bristol City, Portsmouth, Stoke, Plymouth Argyle and back to Stoke in 2006.

He moved to Premier League Crystal Palace in 2013, saving them from relegation, before joining West Brom in January 2015.

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