New Sheffield Wednesday manager Tony Pulis 'dreams' of beating Sheffield United in a Premier League derby

NEW MANAGER: tony Pulis has taken over at Sheffield WednesdayNEW MANAGER: tony Pulis has taken over at Sheffield Wednesday
NEW MANAGER: tony Pulis has taken over at Sheffield Wednesday
Tony Pulis has set himself the target of playing a Premier League derby against Sheffield United during his time as managers of rivals Wednesday – and says they will be a bigger club than the Blades if they can get back on an even footing.

The size of the club he had joined and the loyalty of its fanbase were themes Pulis constantly returned to during his first press conference as Sheffield Wednesday's manager. He replaces Garry Monk, as he did at Middlesbrough, but refused to say how long a contract he has signed.

Lifting the club out of the Championship relegation zone, trying to get out-of-favour goalkeeper Keiren Westwood registered to play, appointing a coaching staff, speaking to Barry Bannan about the captaincy and getting to the bottom of the club's spate of muscle injuries are all immediate priorities, but building a Steel City rivalry with his friend Chris Wilder is a longer-term objective.

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“The fella across the road has done an absolutely fabulous job, he's a good friend of mine and I've got great respect for him and I'd love to place this club in a similar position,” he said. “And wouldn't it be lovely to have derby matches with both clubs in the Premier League? If I did that, I'd say to the chairman thanks very much and I'd be off.

“Just the size of the club excites me and try to get it up above Sheffield United would be absolutely terrific. The success they've had, to spin it around and for us to get that would be terrific. It's a challenge and there's no way I'd have left my house if it wasn't for a big challenge. It's an enormous challenge.”

Pulis was handed his Bristol City debut by Owls legend Don Megson, and worked with his son Gary. Sam Ellis, his assistant manager at Middlesbrough, played for Wednesday in the 1966 FA Cup final.

It means he is well aware of the potential of the club he has joined.

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“I've had a great association with people who have been at Sheffield Wednesday and they've commented on the wonderful support this club has,” he said.

“I can only talk as an opposing manager and when we played Sheffield Wednesday either at Hillsborough or at our place the support was always absolutely fantastic. They seemed a real hardened, fervent group of people.

“I look at Stoke and places like that, working-class areas, and if you give them something they believe in, a little bit of air, they'll get behind you and that's what we have to do here. The unfortunate thing is with covid we can't have people in the ground.

“When you look at the football club in respect of the enormous support they can get, no disrespect to Sheffield United but I think if you got this club into the Premier League it would be the biggest club in Sheffield but at the moment we're not because Sheffield United are because of what Chris has done over five or six years and the stability there. They've reaped the reward.

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“You want to turn the club around a little bit and point it in the right direction so that club has the basis (for success). You've got to have foundation.

“If I can do that and take them into the Premier League and play Sheffield United in a derby match in the Premier League in front of a full house at Hillsborough, that would be my dream, really if someone said to me, 'What are you trying to achieve?'

“I'd still like to be in the Premier League but I'd like to be beating them in it.”

Pulis said he had hoped to speak to Bannan about the captaincy he currently holds after Monday's training session, but that he was unable to because when the midfielder knocked on his door he was in a meeting with the club's sports scientists, trying to get to the bottom of what he sees as a troubling number of key players missing with muscle injuries.

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Made to train with the under-23s, Westwood was part of the training session, and Pulis said he considers the Republic of Ireland international the best goalkeeper at the club and one of the best in the division, but that he is waiting to find out if he can be added to the squad list submitted by Monk. With places available, it ought to be possible.

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