I am not a football fan, but there is a lot that can be learned from Tony Pulis. He arrived at Crystal Palace at a time when they had spent a lot of money to rebuild their team. It was obviously not working as the club was disjointed and languishing in relegation zones.
There is a very simple fact in football that few people really understand. It is not the number of goals that you score that keep you up – it is the number of goals that you let in that get you relegated.
Now, despite Crystal Palace being the 8th club managed over a 21 year period – Tony Pullis has never been relegated. Also despite managing clubs with low budgets, he has taken Stoke to be FA cup runner up and led a spirited campaign in Europe.
So Tony pulls the team together, strengthens the defence and makes the team a very difficult team to break down. He is the bloke in a track suite on the lines and somehow his teams show no shortage of passion – something that supporters love. And a 46% win rate in the top flight is an impressive performance. In fact he is well known for taking football clubs beyond their means and achieving success on a tight budget.
I know – sometimes his style is not always pleasing on the eye and other clubs can have a rough time. Impressively direct, they say, assertive to the point of aggressive. And with set-piece supremacy! It has to get you thinking…
So I wonder if Simon Stevens understands this. You don’t have to score loads of fancy goals to be a hero – you just have to tighten up the defence and not let many in. You do have to be pragmatic and create passion in your team by walking the touchline.
It is about time the NHS looked at how primary care (General Practice, Community Pharmacy, Optometry and Dentistry) and the other providers of primary care services work together with social care and local communities to improve our defence. Let’s start concentrating on not letting any patients slip past our defence and get admitted needlessly to hospital or care homes. Create care, compassion and passion in the workforce by walking the touchline and being close to the players. The NHS has room to be a little more assertive – to tackle the causes of poor outcomes and to get some results for patients.
Will our hospitals deliver set-piece supremacy – well I hope so – to the delight of the players, the fans and the club owners. Impressively balanced by a great defence.