World Cup 2014: Tony Pulis - a Premier League manager in Brazil

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis on Sugarloaf Mountain
The World Cup in Brazil was Tony Pulis's first as a media pundit

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis covered the World Cup as a pundit for BBC Radio 5 live.

From watching how teams trained to seeing how they set up tactically, I learned a lot from my time in Brazil and it was a trip I will never forget.

Plenty of players caught my eye too, although I did not go to the World Cup expecting to discover any amazing new talents. There just aren't any unknown gems at major tournaments anymore.

There were still some players I liked there that I didn't know a lot about, however. For example, the Dutch side did well with a lot of young players who are still based in the Netherlands, which is not always the case with their international team.

And there were players from some of the South American sides who are based in Spain who impressed me too.

But what has changed things from the days when new talents might announce themselves at a World Cup is the way the Premier League has gone over the past 20 years.

It is a global league now - not just an English league - and teams have been scouting all over the world for a long time already.

Even if I don't know much about a player, someone at the club will be aware of him.

It is the same for club competitions around the world, as well as international ones. We scout the Copa Libertadores (the South American Champions League) for example, but only the bottom 12 teams.

We know our position at Palace - we do not go anywhere near the top clubs or nations!

Scouting at the World Cup

Tony Pulis
Pulis's Crystal Palace team finished 11th in the Premier League last season

There were not many surprises left for us at the World Cup, but of course we still wanted to take a look at teams and players in Brazil.

We nailed it down from back home beforehand in terms of who we were watching - individual players we had already been recommended, or those we were looking at closely for the first time.

It was not my job to do any of that in Brazil - Palace had scouts to do it for me - but it was nice to be out there, and I still did my homework.

Before I flew out there, I got a book from the BBC with detailed analysis and information on every player in the tournament. Everything at this level that can help us is worth using.

I went to watch Germany, the Netherlands and Spain play - and also watched the Spanish train, which as a manager was really interesting.

I saw some fantastic players. If money was no object I would not try and sign one player - I would probably share it around and bring about 10 or 11 of them back.

There were not too many I knew personally, though. I got in touch with Bosnia-Hercegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic - who was my goalkeeper at my former club Stoke - before the tournament to wish him well, but I only had one current player out there, Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak.

Mile Jedinak scores for Australia against the Netherlands
Captain Mile Jedinak scored for Australia against the Netherlands, but his side lost all of their games in Brazil

Mile made history when he scored a penalty against the Netherlands in their group match, becoming the first Crystal Place player to score at a World Cup finals, and I am absolutely delighted for him.

I had texted him before the game to wish him luck. He was disappointed when they lost and failed to get out of Group B but I don't feel sorry for him because it meant he could have a nice rest before the new Premier League season starts.

So, being selfish, from Crystal Palace's point of view, Australia failing to get out of their group was the best thing that could have happened for us.

Taking in the tactics

One of the most interesting things about the World Cup was how open it was, especially in the early stages.

Teams like the Netherlands tightened up as they went through the knockout rounds but, initially, they were spreading wide and making the pitch really big when they got the ball.

That meant when possession changed over, if you had pace in your team you could counter-attack and end up creating chances.

Defensively, though, it looked like there was a weakness in every team, even some of those who progressed far into the tournament.

It is all down to different coaches using different systems, and from my point of view as a manager that was fascinating to watch.

But one thing I noticed while I was out in Brazil was how poor some of the marking was in the group stage, and that should not happen whatever system you use.

I don't know how many goals in total were scored from set-plays but, to me, there seemed to be a heck of a lot where people had not been marked properly.

Seeing the sights

I was in Salvador to watch the Dutch destroy Spain and then in Rio a few days later when the defending world champions lost to Chile and were knocked out of the tournament.

It was disappointing to see them go out like that, and along with Jedinak's Australia side become the first teams to be eliminated after just two group games.

Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis at the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio
As well as scouting players, the World Cup also offered the chance to see some of Brazil's sights

That Spain team had been a fantastic side for so long and I felt they deserved to bow out with some respect. In the end it was a bit of a damp squib.

On a personal level, however, that was my first visit to the Maracana. It is a superb stadium and synonymous with everything spectacular Brazil has done for football for years and years.

The first World Cup I can remember was in 1966, when I was eight, but the next one was Mexico in 1970, which was superb. That was the first time I saw how brilliant the Brazil team was.

Standing in the Maracana before that Spain-Chile game kicked off, I could relate the stadium to the whole history of one of the greatest nations to have played the game. To be there was an absolute pleasure.

In fact, there was a real buzz everywhere I went because everybody in Brazil embraced the tournament so much.

It was the first World Cup I have been at in a working capacity, and that gave me a fresh perspective on a lot of things.

Something I had not done previously was to be around fans from all over the world before, during and after matches and to talk to them and get a taste of the electric atmosphere around grounds when there is a game on, not just in them.

I am in Austria now, preparing for the new Premier League season with Palace, but I will look back at my time at the World Cup as a new experience for me, and I had a wonderful time.

Tony Pulis was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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