Stoke City: Jury out on Potters' top boss
TONY Waddington, or Tony Pulis?
It's now a two-horse race to decide just who is Stoke City's best manager of all time.
Waddo was once approaching the winning post as Pulis limped his way into the final furlong.
But how that gap has narrowed – maybe even closed – as these two thoroughbreds go head-to-head for the winners' enclosure.
Peter Coates admits he may be biased, but he thinks TP is already a short head in front of TW.
"You could say it is too early to say," he acknowledges, "but I personally think the achievements of the present team is greater than that of the team in the 70s.
"I wouldn't undermine that team in any way because it was a fabulous team and Tony Waddington did a great job.
"But I would say it is far more difficult today for a club of Stoke City's history and size than it was in the 1970s.
"Running a football club then was a hundred times easier than running one in the 21st century. It was a doddle by comparison.
"Therefore, to some extent, you must say that managing a club is more difficult now because the media pressures, for example, are enormous and nothing like they were in the 70s.
"Either way, though, they are two great Stoke City managers."
Denis Smith understandably sways the vote back towards Tony Waddington, pictured, the manager he played over 400 games for, but says it is too early to pass judgement on who was the better manager.
"We just don't know yet," he argued. "Tony Pulis might go and win the FA Cup, or he could be gone in a couple of weeks. But the odds are against that happening.
"I think it's also difficult to judge because they are two completely different eras.
"Under Waddo, for instance, the players had a lot more input, but today Tony Pulis is clearly in charge and very hands-on.
"Waddo liked to bring in experienced players who could play and pass and who had more freedom.
"Tony is more rigid today, but again that's because the game has changed and there is more tactical stuff going on now.
"As characters they are different. Tony is very much to the point and you will know if you've upset him.
"Waddo, on the other hand, was more likely to put an arm round your shoulder and have a little chat.
"Things were far more relaxed back then. As Roy Vernon once said: 'I hate being at this club because there's no rules to break'."