Football

Wenger surprised by Pulis' shock exit

ARSENAL v CRYSTAL PALACE

(Tomorrow, 12.30am, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & 
StarHub TV Ch 227)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that he did not see Tony Pulis' departure from Crystal Palace coming.

Palace's plans for the new Premier League season, which starts at Arsenal tomorrow morning (Singapore time), have been thrown into disarray after Pulis left the Selhurst Park club late on Thursday.

Pulis was named Premier League manager of the season for 2013/2014, having guided the Eagles to safety following his appointment last November at a time when the south London club were rock bottom, but went on to finish comfortably in mid-table.

Former Stoke boss Pulis had reportedly been left frustrated by the club failing to push through deals for various players he targeted to strengthen the Palace squad.

Palace issued a brief statement yesterday morning, which indicated Pulis had left by "mutal consent", with several candidates such as Malky Mackay, Neil Lennon and Tim Sherwood likely to be interested in the vacancy.

Wenger revealed there had been no indications of any issues when he caught up with Pulis at a pre-season Premier League managers' meeting at the start of the week.

"It was a complete surprise to me and what kind of consequence that will have on Palace, I don't know," said Wenger, who is the longest serving manager (18 years) in the top flight.

"The only thing I can say is that he's done a remarkable job last season and he made a miracle. I don't really know why he left, but it took me by surprise.

"I have never seen that (manager leave so close to start of season) before, so you can always be surprised.

"I was at a managers' meeting on Monday with Pulis and nothing indicated that he would not be here (on Saturday) afternoon."

Wenger added: "Maybe Pulis was the Manager of the Season last year because he took the maximum out of his team during the period he was there - that is the real job of the manager."

Mackay, who took Cardiff into the Premier League before being sacked last December, is now the odds-on favourite to replace Pulis.

The Scot said earlier this week that he was looking to get back into management - with the right club.

"At the moment, I'm just waiting," he said. "I had a couple of opportunities in the summer that I didn't feel I was ready for.

"So it's really just a question of wait and see - but I really want to get back into it and manage again.

"I really enjoyed the challenge of coaching against some of the top coaches in the world and pitting my wits against them.

"Everyone would love to manage in the Premier League, but there are only so many clubs. I certainly enjoyed it last year and I would love to have the chance to manage there again."

- PA Sport.


I have never seen that (manager leave so close to start of season) before, so you can always be surprised.

- Arsene Wenger on Tony Pulis' departure from Crystal Palace less than three days before his side meet the Eagles