Tony Pulis narrowly wins ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Manager of the Year award

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There have been plenty of storylines on the touchline this season in England’s top flight.

From firings to headbutts to overspenditure, there has been an abundance of action in the duguot. However, we are here to recognize those who went above and beyond in their managerial duties.

With so much turmoil at the managerial spot for a number of clubs across the Premier League, it would seem an easy choice.  But we love controversy and debate here at ProSoccerTalk, and we don’t often agree.

We didn’t here, and it came down to a tiebreaker vote between two very deserving candidates.

Brendan Rodgers led Liverpool to a second-place finish in the Premier League, and although they let the title slip away in the dying moments of the season in painful fashion, he led the club to a finish far greater than expected at the beginning of the season.

Had Liverpool won the title, Rodgers would no doubt be the runaway choice for this award. However, because they slipped at the finish line, another candidate emerged.

Crystal Palace were dead in the water a few months ago, and needed a new manager to replace the recently sacked Ian Holloway.  The club was criticized at his time of hire for picking a manager who was known for his boring style of play, with detractors saying they needed someone to bring flair to the club.

Instead, Pulis engineered a masterful comeback, instilling a sense of solidity to the squad’s play. In storybook fashion, Pulis emerged as the club’s savior, leading them not only to safety but an 11th place finish, an insane prospect at Christmas.

It couldn’t have been written better, as Pulis was at the forefront of Liverpool’s title demise, engineering a comeback for the ages to draw 3-3 after trailing the Reds 3-0 in the penultimate game of the season.

The pair split the major managerial awards this season, with Rodgers winning the League Manager’s Association Manager of the Year award, and Pulis took home the Premier League’s version.

Fittingly, both men received an equal amount of votes in our ProSoccerTalk Manager of the Year voting, and both received the same amount of first-place votes, which was our first tiebreaker. Therefore, it was put up for a second vote to determine who would win, and the results are below:

Joe Prince-Wright:
1. Tony Pulis
2. Brendan Rodgers
3. Mauricio Pochettino
Tiebreaker – Pulis

Mike Prindiville:
1. Roberto Martinez
2. Tony Pulis
3. Brendan Rodgers
Tiebreaker – Pulis

Richard Farley:
1. Brendan Rodgers
2. Roberto Martinez
3. Tony Pulis
Tiebreaker – Rodgers

Kyle Bonn:
1. Brendan Rodgers
2. Tony Pulis
3. Mark Hughes
Tiebreaker – Rodgers

Nick Martinez:
1. Tony Pulis
2. Brendan Rodgers
3. Manuel Pellegrini
Tiebreaker – Pulis

ProSoccerTalk Premier League Manager of the Year: Tony Pulis

Crystal Palace’s guardian angel is our winner, as only one can take home the crown.  Both are deserving of our accolades, as are all the other men mentioned.

Everton’s Roberto Martinez came in third, as the Toffees finished fifth this year and have a view towards bigger and better things next season if they can sort out a few roster issues this summer.

Other men mentioned were Manuel Pellegrini of the champions Manchester City, who likely would have received more credit for winning the title had he not been gifted with such a quality squad; Mauricio Pochettino of Southampton who faded late but still had a strong season and have work to do to keep their top players and manager; and Mark Hughes, who guided Stoke City to a surprising 9th place finish, their highest ever in the Premier League.

Congratulations to all of the candidates for a fantastic season!

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.