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West Brom board returning from China today following summit with Guochuan Lai

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Albion’s top brass are due to touch down from China today after their crunch talks with owner Guochuan Lai.

Guochuan Lai

Chief executive Mark Jenkins and technical consultant Giuliano Terraneo have been in the Far East this week to get Lai’s approval of the club’s new head coach.

The Baggies hope to make an appointment in the coming days, with an official announcement expected early next week.

Brentford’s Dean Smith and caretaker boss Darren Moore were the two main candidates presented to Lai this week after Jenkins sounded out a number of contenders over the past few weeks - although all possibilities were discussed.

Senior members of the board believe Smith ticks all the boxes because of his experience in the Championship and his style of football.

But Moore has received the backing of Albion’s senior players following a remarkable run as caretaker boss that yielded 11 points from six games.

The board are now due to sit down and speak to Moore about the coming season in the next 48 hours.

If the former centre-back isn’t given the permanent job, he will be offered a return to his first team coaching role.

Goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler and under-23s boss James Shan, who both helped the caretaker boss during his time in charge, are also expected to remain at the club for next season.

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Former Walsall boss Smith and his assistant Richard O’Kelly signed one-year extensions on their Brentford contracts in February, and according to reports, Smith does not have a release clause in his deal.

That would require the Baggies to make a formal approach to the Bees if Smith is their man.

The 47-year-old joined Brentford in November 2015 and has guided them to three consecutive top-half finishes in the Championship despite operating on a smaller budget than many of their rivals.

Albion’s new head coach will be tasked with helping Jenkins reboot the club this summer after the Baggies were relegated as the bottom club of the Premier League.

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He is likely to oversee a busy summer in the transfer market with several players expected to leave for pastures new following relegation.

Chris Brunt and Ben Foster have both pledged their future to the Baggies, but uncertainty clouds the future of most players.

A number of senior players are out of contract like Gareth McAuley, Claudio Yacob, James Morrison and Boaz Myhill.

Albion have postponed tonight's scheduled meeting with fans group the Albion Assembly until next month.

The club want to wait until their new head coach is installed and also need to find out more about changes between the Football League and Premier League regulations because a number of agenda items related to those differences.

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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