Albion’s dreadful run since the end of February has led to many commentators highlighting the record of Tony Pulis’s sides after reaching the magical forty point barrier that, psychologically at least, represents the target for Premier League survival. I decided to take a look at the statistics, and it doesn’t make good reading.
The Welshman’s two full seasons at Albion are actually his most successful in the Premier League in terms of how early the 40-point mark was reached. Last season, it was reached with seven games to go and this season, there were twelve games to go. Last season, those final seven games (what I will now refer to as post-safety games) produced just three points while the eight so far this season have yielded just four. Those are actually the worst post-safety game records in Pulis’s career as the table below shows.
|Tony Pulis – games managed after reaching 40 points|
|2008/2009 – Stoke City||2||1||0||1||3||4||3||1.50|
|2009/2010 – Stoke City||6||1||2||3||2||13||5||0.83|
|2010/2011 – Stoke City||5||1||1||3||3||6||4||0.80|
|2011/2012 – Stoke City||6||0||4||2||5||9||5||0.67|
|2012/2013 – Stoke City||3||0||2||1||3||4||2||0.67|
|2013/2014 – Crystal Palace||4||1||2||1||6||7||5||1.25|
|2014/2015 – Baggies||3||1||1||1||5||5||4||1.33|
|2015/2016 – Baggies||7||0||3||4||4||11||3||0.43|
|2016/2017 – Baggies||8||1||1||6||3||11||4||0.50|
That total of 0.77 points per game in post-safety matches would certainly not be enough to keep a side in the Premier League in the first place, and when you compare it to Pulis’s overall managerial points average in the Premier League of 1.23, there is a stark difference.
Furthermore, his points average in the pre-saftey games, i.e. those played in reaching 40 points, it is an even more impressive 1.31 points per game.
So the statistics suggest that Pulis’s teams do significantly worse after hitting the 40 point mark than before, picking up 40% fewer points on average. The reasons behind this are, however, up for debate.
When a team has been struggling against relegation, it is perhaps understandable that reaching safety is a release and that the players will relax, so for those seasons where the 40 point mark is reached late on, you might expect a drop off. However, the drop off is far more pronounced in those seasons where safety is confirmed five or more games before the end of the season. In these seasons, the post-safety points average is just 0.63 points.
That does point towards a definitive 40-point target that is set out by the manager at the beginning of the season and, perhaps, where there is less pressure on the players once that target is achieved. Manager and players are all denying that this is the case and, for this season, my personal view is that the season drop off is more a factor of the small squad rather than a case of the players being “on the beach”.
However, the fact remains that no Tony Pulis side has finished in the top ten in the Premier League and the late season collapses for his Stoke teams are certainly a factor. That record may well fall this season, but it will be a lot closer than it should’ve been as it is only the failures of the teams below us to capitalise that sees the Baggies still sitting in eighth place.
|Tony Pulis – All games managed|
|2008/2009 – Stoke City||38||12||9||17||45||1.18|
|2009/2010 – Stoke City||38||11||14||13||47||1.24|
|2010/2011 – Stoke City||38||13||17||18||46||1.21|
|2011/2012 – Stoke City||38||11||12||15||45||1.18|
|2012/2013 – Stoke City||38||9||15||14||42||1.11|
|2013/2014 – Crystal Palace||26||11||5||10||38||1.46|
|2014/2015 – Baggies||18||7||5||6||26||1.44|
|2015/2016 – Baggies||38||10||13||15||43||1.13|
|2016/2017 – Baggies||34||12||8||14||44||1.29|
|Tony Pulis – games managed to reach 40 points|
|2008/2009 – Stoke City||36||11||9||16||42||1.17|
|2009/2010 – Stoke City||32||10||12||10||42||1.31|
|2010/2011 – Stoke City||33||12||6||15||42||1.27|
|2011/2012 – Stoke City||32||11||8||13||41||1.28|
|2012/2013 – Stoke City||35||9||13||13||40||1.14|
|2013/2014 – Crystal Palace||22||10||3||9||33||1.50|
|2014/2015 – Baggies||15||6||4||5||22||1.47|
|2015/2016 – Baggies||31||10||10||11||40||1.29|
|2016/2017 – Baggies||26||11||7||8||40||1.54|