Pulis can stop Spurs
Consistent West Brom no easy meat for high-flying Tottenham
A few years ago, I spent some time with the enigmatic Trinidad and Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones.
At the time, Jones was leading the line for Stoke City as the Potters marched towards the 2011 FA Cup final.
You'd think that life as a handsomely paid Premier League footballer was very sweet indeed for the imposing front man.
Well, not really.
Jones, whom John Terry had once named as his toughest opponent, had reservations about joining Stoke from Sunderland the previous summer because of the rigid tactics deployed by manager Tony Pulis, and the dull and repetitive training sessions he had to go through.
Michael Owen has since admitted that the thought of another season under Pulis prompted him to retire early as he wound down his career at the Britannia.
However, Jones had been assured in the summer of 2010 that the Potters were looking to be more ambitious, to play more open and expansive football as they embarked on a third season in the Premier League.
During the first week of pre-season training, Stoke's players were encouraged to express themselves, play football from the back, trust their instincts.
There were smiles around the Britannia - surely a first for any group of players who have endured a Pulis pre-season training regime.
However, at the end of that promising first week, Pulis called the players in for a meeting, and promptly announced that he was going back to his old style of football - pressing, long balls and rigid organisation.
Jones was understandably gutted, and it's fair to say that he never adjusted to life under Pulis.
Fast forward a few years to 2017, and Pulis is still going strong. Last summer, there were rumours that the new owners of West Bromwich Albion would move him on and install a younger manager.
Thankfully for Baggies fans, the famous cap-wearing Welshman is still patrolling the technical area as West Brom look to cement their place in the top half of the table.
Certain players still moan about his style - Saido Berahino being a prime example.
However, players like Salomon Rondon - the heir apparent to the mercurial but wayward Berahino - are having to be dragged off the training field as they embrace the successful methods deployed by Pulis.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Whether Pulis, 58, has adopted a different approach this season, only the inner sanctum at the Hawthorns would know.
But whatever he's doing is certainly working.
Since the beginning of September, Albion's only defeats have come against five of the big six - Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.
In their other 11 Premier League outings, the Baggies have won seven times and drawn the other four.
Tonight, West Brom visit a Tottenham Hotspur side who have won their last five games - most recently a superb victory over league leaders Chelsea when Dele Alli thrust himself ever closer to world stardom.
West Brom's previous failings against top sides this season suggest that they will fall short at White Hart Lane, but their recent record against Spurs must give them a modicum of hope that they can spring a surprise and grab at least a share of the spoils.
In the last seven meetings between the two teams, we've witnessed no less than five draws - including a 1-1 at the Hawthorns back in October when that man Alli struck in the last minute to rescue a point for a Tottenham side who were still unbeaten in the EPL.
Don't be surprised if Spurs are frustrated once again tonight in a game you can watch live on Eleven Plus.
Richard Lenton is the lead presenter at Eleven Sports Network. Join Richard and his studio guests for Eleven's live coverage of the Premier League, which includes tonight's clashes between Spurs and West Brom (8pm), and Swansea versus Arsenal (11pm), as well as tomorrow's showdown between Everton and Manchester City (9pm). For more details, visit www.elevensports.sg