Comment: West Brom board must deliver a brighter future
The only acceptable reason behind the Albion board’s inaction is that the long-term future of the club is being put first.
After such a ruinous season, the danger is that Albion do what Sunderland are threatening to do this year and double-dip.
As plenty of clubs have found out, the Championship takes no prisoners and getting the right man for that division is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Albion got the last appointment catastrophically wrong, and rushing into the next one could put paid to any chance of heading straight back up.
Alan Pardew deserves the sack after seven straight successive defeats, that much is clear to everyone, but if he only remains for strategic reasons, then the next decision has to be spot on.
By refusing to act now, the board are essentially pleading with fans to stick with them in hope of a brighter future.
That puts a lot of pressure on the next appointment, because supporters have been force-fed rotten apples since January and it now looks set to continue until the end of the season.
Work behind the scenes must now begin in earnest on ‘Operation Championship’. Candidates should be sounded out, and interviewed if possible.
The Pardew appointment lacked imagination and Albion have paid the price for that. Michael O’Neill was interviewed in November as well, but considering the board always wanted Premier League experience, there was only going to be one winner.
The search cannot be so restricted this time. Any and every possibility must be explored, be it experience, youth, a manager from the Football League, or a manager from abroad.
The owner and the board will want to bounce straight back up, but that is easier said than done.
In the past 10 years, only five of the 30 clubs relegated from the Premier League have finished in the top two automatic promotion spots of the Championship the following season.
Newcastle have done it twice, and the other clubs to achieve it are Birmingham, Burnley and Albion.
It’s getting more difficult too, because only two teams (Newcastle and Burnley) have done it in the past eight years.
Picking the right head coach is not the only variable involved. Deciding who to keep and who to let go while recruiting the right players will also play a part. But there’s no doubt having the right man in the dug-out is crucial. Just look at how Steve Bruce has performed at Aston Villa compared to Roberto Di Matteo.
Pardew is not that man, but he is out there. And the only reason this current mess should be allowed to continue is if plans are being drawn up to get the right replacement.