Saturday 24 March 2018

Pulis uses hairdryer treatment

Tony Pulis gave his players the hairdryer treatment before the game
Tony Pulis gave his players the hairdryer treatment before the game

Tony Pulis gave his players the hairdryer treatment at Old Trafford and the move paid off as West Brom recorded a famous and vital victory against Manchester United.

West Brom earned successive victories at United's home for the first time since 1959 thanks to Chris Brunt's free-kick, which flew past David de Gea courtesy of a deflection off Jonas Olsson.

After results went against them earlier in the day, the Baggies looked set to be dragged back into the relegation dogfight, but the 1-0 victory means they are now seven points above the drop zone with three matches left.

At the place where the 'hairdryer' phrase was coined due to Sir Alex Ferguson's dressing room rants at his United team, Pulis let rip at his players before the match for talking about victories for relegation rivals Sunderland, Aston Villa and Leicester.

The Baggies boss wanted his players to focus solely on their objective of beating United and the dressing down seemed to work.

"I went mad before the game because one of the lads had his phone out and was looking at the results," Pulis said.

"It's a very difficult time of day to play because results are coming through and lads get a bit distracted. They had enough on their plate without knowing results. We worry far too much about things we can't affect.

"You should concentrate on what you can affect."

United had a chance to reply immediately to West Brom's goal when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot following a handball by Saido Berahino.

But West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill saved Robin van Persie's effort from the penalty spot and United could not find a way through in the final 10 minutes.

Louis van Gaal expressed fears before the match that his team were incapable of dealing with defensively-minded teams, and that proved to be the case on Saturday.

West Brom lined up in a rigid 4-5-1 formation, and Berahino often found himself extremely isolated up front.

"It's what you expected already before the game," Van Gaal said. "They parked the bus and then it's always difficult to attack because you have a lot of bodies in front of you. But we have to improve. We have to improve in finishing.

"They have more time to break when we have 80 per cent ball possession, then they also have 80 per cent of the time to break on us," he added.

"We organised it to stop them breaking on us but one free-kick and a deflected goal against us and, for all the possession in the second half, we were blowing in the wind."

A few weeks ago, United seemed certain to qualify for the Champions League, but they are now just four points above Liverpool after losing three Premier League matches in a row for the first time since 2001.

United have away matches at Crystal Palace and Hull as well as a home fixture against Arsenal on the penultimate weekend of the season to come.

Liverpool, who beat QPR earlier on Saturday, face Chelsea, Palace and Stoke before the campaign ends.

Van Gaal admits his men are in danger of throwing away their seat at Europe's top table.

He said: "Maybe you all remember my press conferences where I said it will be a rat race until the very end.

"I was the only one because we were seven points ahead at the time.

"But I said it was still possible (being caught). I'm aware of that and my players shall be aware of that. It was unlucky but this is the third match in a row we lost and we didn't score.

"It's now in the hands of my players. We have to work very hard to keep their confidence up because we have everything in our own hands.

"We are four points ahead but our goal is a now a little bit more difficult than before."

Press Association

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