What we learned this week: Time to cry with joy as Pulis leaves Stoke

The Bono of the top flight has finally left the building but, astonishingly, the Premier League refuses to go away for the summer despite having finished on Sunday
By George Ankers

Hanging up the baseball cap

Tony Pulis's departure from Stoke City hit WWLTW like a punch to the gut. Specifically, a punch that missed and hammered into someone obnoxious instead*.

When the messenger rode into the great hall at Goal Towers and declared the news, this column fell down at her feet and hugged the horse's front legs, weeping with unbridled joy and thanking whichever nonspecific deities had delivered such salvation. WWLTW is so happy that it could retire.

Supposedly, Stoke want a man willing to spend excessively on average and/or over-the-hill players. They want a man whose press conferences are terse and dour ... talk WWLTW through that sacking again, then?
The way forward is clear. The man to clean up a dressing room in the habit of leaving pig's heads in lockers is a man whose current dressing room leaves excrement in the away side's.
Something about continuity from the previous regime being healthy? Maybe a young voice to revitalise the dugout? OK, fine. WWLTW is just looking for a reason for the Human Health-and-Safety Hazard to stop playing.
In many ways, Pulis was the Bono of the Premier League. Packing out stadia week after week, stuck in a moment (the 2009-10 season) that he couldn't get out of, achieving success far beyond his likeability ... just swap tax for tackles and they are practically identical.

But now, just two years too late, the baseball cap has been confiscated, as if somebody at the club had finally noticed how ridiculous he looked. No more will the corridors of the Britannia Stadium ring with the sound of grumbling about masculinity.

No more, either, will young players feel obliged to wear a fake, grey beard in order to be noticed. Pulis, who is to youth development what Basil Brush is to open-heart surgery, did not field a single player under the age of 24 in 2012-13.

Now, assuming that he doesn't get the Paris Saint-Germain job, the Welshman can stay at home for a while and think about what he has done. Perhaps he can hire Kieron Dyer as a butler because "we just need that extra bit of experience around the house".

Then, when Dyer is inevitably tripped up by the cat, he can gather all of his friends and family in the living room to boo the former England star for having the temerity to be felinely attacked.

Also, something about a pig's head. WWLTW didn't develop this joke but, be fair, that story came out only a week ago and Pulis has had four years to develop even a mid-table mentality.

*Depending on your point of view, feel free to read this as 'someone else obnoxious instead'.

Photo of the season

"If this is the last ever WWLTW, have I finished learning?"

The Premier League doesn't know when to stop

The Premier League finished on Sunday. Last Sunday. Only five days before the publication of this column. And ALREADY Chelsea and Manchester City have played again.


May 2014
Arsenal rest Jack Wilshere from their final two Premier League games to ensure that he has time to prepare his body for jet-lag
May 2015
Chelsea's squad numbers run into triple figures as they build a squad capable of playing 300 games per season
May 2016
Half-time in the Champions League final lasts for a week so as to fit in an anticipation-building tour of Asia
Let us be clear about this: If you have not reached the Champions League final, the final day of the season is your cue to make like a tree and leave us all alone for at least a good month. Everyone loves football but absence makes the heart grow fonder. Try it sometime.

Not only are they already playing games again but they are pointless ones. Both against the same teams. Both within two ruddy days of each other. Next time that Chelsea (69 competitive games in 2012-13) complain about fixture congestion, point towards St Louis, open your mouth and emit a wordless scream. Continue indefinitely until they look away in shame.

Obviously, WWLTW loves football. Loves it like a meerkat loves standing on its hind legs. But at some point you do have to take a break to cultivate other interests. Do these people not have hobbies? Does John Obi Mikel not fancy sitting out in the garden with a mystery novel for a change? Does Pablo Zabaleta not want to watch the Test match?

And, hey, you know where they are still in the middle of their season? THE UNITED STATES! If anywhere needs more games of football at the moment, America probably isn't it. Let MLS be MLS. You've entertained us for nine solid months. Now stop.

Copying the wrong model

When Germany beat England 4-1 at World Cup 2010, football brains pointed out that the FA should copy the German model. As Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund bulldozed and goodwilled, respectively, their ways to the Champions League final this season, the brains said the same thing.

The FA, in its wisdom, took things rather too literally and will now have England modelling Germany's classic shirt in the assumption that that will do the trick. With a tiny percentage of the number of youth coaches boasted by our Bundesliga cousins, though, the Three Lions might as well be wearing clown suits.

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