First Team Manager
TONY PULIS was hailed as Stoke City’s greatest-ever manager by Chairman Peter Coates after masterminding a remarkable upturn in the Club’s fortunes following his return to the Britannia Stadium for a second spell in charge.
Pulis has not only established the Potters in the Barclays Premier League after guiding them to promotion in the 2007-08 season, he has also led them to their first-ever FA Cup Final and then an exciting adventure in the Europa League.
Therefore, it makes for an interesting debate as to whether the Welshman or Tony Waddington is the greatest manager in the Club’s long and proud history, although there is no better person to be the judge of that than Mr Coates.
There is no doubt, however, that Pulis has proved the doubters wrong with what he has achieved in his second spell as City manager after his initial reign at the Britannia Stadium from 2002-05 didn’t work out quite as he had planned.
Written off from the moment he reacquainted himself with the Potters following the return of Mr Coates five years ago, nobody can argue with the job he has carried out, having taken the Potters on an incredible journey from the lower echelons of the Championship to the Barclays Premier League and on to Wembley and Europe.
He will be the first to acknowledge the monumental importance of the backing of his Chairman in the transfer market, but it has without doubt been his transfer dealings, together with his dedicated and workmanlike approach to the job which have catapulted the Potters up the footballing pyramid in such a short space of time.
Pulis initially began his management career at Bournemouth, following in the footsteps of close friend Harry Redknapp, who had recommended him for the job. He then enjoyed considerable success at Gillingham, rebuilding a struggling Third Division side and leading them into the Second Division play-offs.
His next port of call was Bristol City, however things didn't pan out quite as he had hoped at Ashton Gate, meaning he swiftly moved on to join Milan Mandaric's Portsmouth at the turn of the century. He again helped Pompey retain their Championship status despite seeming certainties for the drop in the 1999-2000 season.
In 2002, he was appointed as the new City boss by the Icelandic Consortium. His first achievement at the Britannia Stadium was to successfully steer the Club clear of relegation from Division One in 2003 and firmly establish them in the new Coca-Cola Championship before his departure in the summer of 2005.
His second spell as City boss coincided with Mr Coates’ takeover of the Club in the summer of 2006. The Welshman had spent seven months at Plymouth Argyle during his "year off" from the managerial reigns at the Britannia Stadium, and steered the Pilgrims away from the relegation zone to finish safely in mid-table.
The rest is history...
DAVE KEMP linked up with Tony Pulis for a fifth time when he returned to the role of Stoke City’s assistant manager for the 2010-11 season.
The hugely-experienced coach had spent one year operating as the Club’s scout in America, but was the natural replacement for Peter Reid when the former England midfielder was offered the opportunity to take charge of Plymouth Argyle.
But he was elevated to the position of assistant manager when they moved on to Plymouth Argyle for a short period and then took up the same role when they moved back to the Potteries in the early stages of the 2006-2007 season.
He served as first team coach under Pulis at Portsmouth and was then taken on in a similar role when the pair were reunited at the Britannia Stadium in 2004.
After a successful playing career both in England and then the United States, the early part of his coaching career was notable for the fact that he was part of the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’ which caused a major upset by winning the 1988 FA Cup.
That paved the way for Kemp’s return to the role in which he had served under Pulis in helping to mastermind the Potters’ climb into the Premier League.
However, it was always Reid’s intention to seek another managerial position in the long run and he eventually moved down to Home Park.
It was Reid who had filled the vacancy in Pulis’ backroom team at the start of the 2009-10 season when Kemp decided to base himself closer to home in the United States and play a key role in searching for talent in that part of the world.
First Team Coach
MARK O’CONNOR is regarded as the more technologically advanced member of Stoke City’s backroom team . . . which is such an important factor in the modern game.
An advocate of video technology, the former Republic of Ireland international introduced ProZone to the Club when he was appointed First Team Coach in the summer of 2006.
O’Connor has worked extensively on using ProZone to analyse and enhance team performances, ensuring that it has become an influential part of the Club’s success.
Like other members of Tony Pulis’ backroom team, the 49-year-old coach has served under him at a number of other clubs prior to him coming to the Britannia Stadium.
After spending time with Pulis at both Gillingham and Bournemouth as a player, he then served as a member of his coaching staff during his spells at Portsmouth and Plymouth.
During a 17-year playing career as a winger, O’Connor started out with Queens Park Rangers before having lengthy spells with Bristol Rovers, Bournemouth and Gillingham.
Indeed, the latter stages of his career saw him return for second spells at Dean Court and then the Priestfield Stadium before making his move onto the coaching side.
First Team Coach
ADRIAN PENNOCK has enjoyed a long association with Tony Pulis . . . and that started another new chapter when he was appointed First Team Coach at the start of the 2011-12 season.
The 41-year-old former central defender had been operating as coach of the Club’s Under-18 side within the Academy set-up when Pulis turned to him to strengthen his backroom team.
The pair first linked up at Bournemouth where Pennock had a four-year spell as a player and were then reunited when he spent a successful seven-year period with Gillingham.
Over a 16-year playing career which began at Norwich City, he made 330 League appearances with a large proportion of them being while he was at Dean Court and Priestfield Stadium.
After serving under Pulis’ management for a time at Bournemouth, he then made a £25,000 move to Gillingham in October 1996 where he became a hugely-influential figure and captained the team which triumphed in the 2000 League One Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium.
When a persistent knee injury brought his career to a premature end, he became the assistant manager of Football Conference side Gravesend and Northfleet.
Pennock then had a spell as manager of Welling United in the Conference South and by the end of his first season in charge in 2004-05 had guided them to their best position in six years.
However, when the opportunity to link up with Pulis arose at the end of the 2006-07 season, he jumped at this chance to head north and work with City’s Academy.
First Team Coach
TONY PULIS has assembled a backroom team with a vast amount of experience in the game . . . none of them more so than Gerry Francis.
The former England captain joined the Potters as a First Team Coach following their promotion to the Barclays Premier League and there is no doubt that his considerable knowledge of the game has been instrumental in the Club’s progress.
Although Francis operates on a part-time basis, he has become a valuable member of Pulis’ staff in helping to establish City in the top-flight.
As well as an illustrious playing career in which he led his country, he has spent 18 years in management, most notably with Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers, but also in the lower leagues at Exeter City and Bristol Rovers.
A central midfield player who weighed in with more than his fair share of goals, he made more than 500 appearances, many of which were in two spells with QPR, while he also played for Crystal Palace, Bristol Rovers and Coventry City.
After a short period as player-manager of Exeter, he succeeded Bobby Gould for the first of his two spells as Bristol Rovers manager and he soon made his mark by guiding them to the old Third Division title in the 1989-90 season.
When Francis returned to QPR as manager, he had the satisfaction of making them the top London club when they finished third in the Premier League in 1992-93. His rise to prominence led to him being linked with the England job before the eventual appointment of Terry Venables, so it was White Hart Lane where he subsequently moved.
Following a three year stint at Tottenham, he returned to familiar territory, not once, but twice with spells back at Loftus Road and then Bristol Rovers.
ANDY QUY is a vital member of a goalkeeping department which is considered to be one of the strongest in the Barclays Premier League.
The 36-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur apprentice is responsible for ensuring that Asmir Begovic, Thomas Sorensen and Carlo Nash remain on top of their game as they compete for the right to be first choice at the Britannia Stadium.
Quy joined the Potters as their goalkeeping coach in 2007 after working with the Academies at Derby County and Aston Villa, as well as the first team at Lincoln City after being forced to focus on the coaching side from an early age.
His playing career was starting to take some shape when an injury forced him into a premature retirement while he was with Hereford after he had made 93 League appearances over a three-year period with the Edgar Street club.
Prior to that, the Harrow-born ‘keeper had started out with Tottenham before having short spells with Derby County and Grimsby Town.
A dedicated and likeable character, he works closely with the Potters goalkeepers on a day-to-day basis at the Clayton Wood Training Ground, helping aid their technical, tactical and physical abilities to enable them to perform at maximum level.
Director of Football
IT TAKES a brave man to cross a city divide in the game of football . . . but John Rudge did just that in the summer of 1999 as he swapped Port Vale for Stoke City in a move which sent shockwaves through North Staffordshire.
A hugely-successful manager, John took charge of 843 matches at Vale Park, helping them climb from the lower echelons of the Football League's basement division all the way to the upper reaches of the Championship during his 16-year spell in charge.
He has been the Director of Football at the Britannia Stadium for the past 13 years serving as a valuable ally to no fewer than five different managers.
His current duties at the Club include playing a key role in all transfer and contract negotiations, helping expand the Club's scouting network and dealing with player issues.
Originally from Wolverhampton, his career in football began at Huddersfield Town as a player, but he had lengthy spells at Torquay United, Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth.
In total, he scored 79 goals in more than 250 League and Cup appearances, but he eventually had to retire from the game due to injury while he was at Dean Court.
A move into coaching followed and he served in backroom roles at both Torquay and Vale before his appointment as manager at Vale Park in 1983.
As well as promotion successes, Rudge also led them to the Anglo Italian Cup Final in 1996 and victory in the Football League Trophy Final in 1993.
Fitness & Physio Co-Ordinator
TONY PULIS has always placed great emphasis on his players being in the best possible physical condition . . . which is why Paul Maxwell was a crucial addition to the backroom team at the Britannia Stadium in 2010.
‘Maxi’, as he is predominantly known within the Potters dressing room, had worked alongside Pulis at Plymouth Argyle and so he had no hesitation in reacquainting himself with Stoke City’s manager when he was offered the chance.
A former player, he also featured under assistant manager Dave Kemp at both Plymouth and Slough before retiring prematurely at the age of 22 with a troublesome knee injury.
He spent 10 years serving on the south coast as Plymouth's Head Physiotherapist, but a move to the Premier League with the Potters proved too attractive to turn down.
MEDICAL & SUPPORT STAFF
Dave Watson BPHTY, MNZSP, MCSPM
Dr Andrew Dent MBCh.B, MRCGP, MFSEM (UK), Dip. Sports Medicine