Tony Pulis Meets the Fans
By Robert Nichols
Thursday 02 Aug 2018 10:32:00
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A packed Legends Lounge was informed and entertained and probably enthused about the new season after a frank and open question and answer from Boro boss Tony Pulis. He ducked no questions and apart from hiding the names of any player targets did not avoid any issues. Like him or not, and some fans said they were in the latter camp, no one left the room with any other impression that Pulis is hell bent on succeeding here and returning the club to the top division and Europe once more. Music to our ears.

Looking relaxed and without cap or trainers, Pulis answered every question fired at him before the half time break when pies and peas were served. After the food interval, two Boro stalwarts, Curtis Fleming and Jonathan Woodgate revealed more about the tough pre season and the 100% all or nothing attitude that now permeates the club from top to bottom. Jonathan Woodgate could not contain himself about the potential of young defender Nathan Wood, earlier tipped by Tony Pulis for a possible debut before the age of 17.

The evening was expertly hosted by Gordon Cox, questions were asked through roving microphones. One lady confessed she had been no fan of Tony when he joined. The manager smiled back and even beamed when another questioner, John, admitted he still did not like him. But Pulis looked John in the eye and said he might not like him but he would give everything and ensure the players gave everything for the club.

In fact that was the only sort of players he is interested in now. On Saturday they could be five players short of where we want to be but the club is working flat out to change that. They have targets but it is not easy landing them. They want players who really want to be here.

No names were mentioned although there was a heavy hint that Mo Besic could be on the radar in the loan window.

Why does he like a small squad? Because he liked everyone fully involved in training and practice games with 18 pros and space for 4 players to win their places from the Academy. Woodgate has the role of recommending those that can make this step up. Pulis could not praise the Academy enough, the best he has ever come across and that was down largely to the people involved.

Pulis says as you get older it is people that count and he believed the football club was now superbly run from top to bottom. He is exacting on his medical staff to prevent any muscular injuries. He wants those 18 players fit and available at all times.

What of his style of play? It is all about winning. That is the most important thing but he will fit the formula to the players. Last season he based everything around our best player Adama Traore. Give him the ball, let him create. He doesn't need to defend. On the other flank Friend, who he could not praise enough for attitude and commitment, worked in a triangle with Downing covering back and Besic also moving between defence and midfield. He wants Shotton to defend not attack and said he defended so well with no Traore covering.

Why did we fail against Villa? Our key players didn't deliver in the tie, Traore and Besic. But if Friend had delivered a cross early on at Villa Park the outcome may have been different. He brought on Gestede because he was the only forward left.

How about Traore? There is an £18.5 million clause in his contract. They are trying every way they can to persuade him to stay but in the end cannot stand in his way, it will be his decision, it is his career. There is a Plan B for if he goes but the hope is Traore will reflect one more season at Boro could propel him onto the radar of top 6 sides in England and Europe.

Tony underlined he only wants players that want to be here. He was aware of the history of how many players come for a couple of seasons and leave again with a great deal of money. So, he would like to have more local lads if possible.

Pulis then said about how agents can unsettle their players receiving offers from clubs and Boro are the last to know in this chain. It sounded as if Patrick Bamford left after Leeds contacted his handlers. Pulis said how he wanted him to stay. Asked how he had helped transform Bamford and Traore last season, the boss said instilling confidence and making them feel a part of things had been key to this. Traore had been so shy but now was fully part of the group and liked by everyone.

Martin Braithwaite is a great lad and a real talent but he wanted to leave for France at Christmas. Pulis did not say more about the Dane but again underlined he only wants players that want to play for Boro.

At present the whole front line is up for grabs. Only Traore's position is nailed on. Players like Lewis Wing could have an opportunity, Woodgate and Fleming revealed the former Shildon player had been flying all pre-season, eager to seize his chance.

Gibson had spent a fortune at the start of last season, Pulis said he was well aware of where the club was in 1986 and the chairman has made sure we never slide back. He did not want to ask him to dig so deep again.

Tony Pulis concluded by saying that the next three weeks could be vital for our season. Will we hold on to Traore and Gibson? Who will we sign? He believed we could win promotion, he was determined we would give it our best shot. But we are still well short on goals and creativity as of now. Goals have to be spread through the team. We need to sign the right players and/or I suppose the players given the shirt at Millwall come through and make a big, big impact for the Boro.

Tony Pulis came here to succeed he said and promotion is the only aim of everyone at the club. He wants to take us back again to the top flight and beyond.



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