Following their fourth straight loss in the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion made the decision to remove Steve Clarke as manager of the club.
After losing 1-0 away at Cardiff, West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace made the assessment that the club were underachieving and pulled the plug on Clarkes operation. The chairman had reasonable claims for his frustrations. The club did spend a record amount this last summer and the club are currently sitting just two points above the relegation zone.
West Brom are not an organization known for sacking managers on a whim. The club have only made managerial changes three times in the last fourteen years. It can therefore be surmised that this decision was made with very careful consideration.
Since Roy Hodgson left the club, however, the Baggies have changed form under Clarke. Although they may have become more expansive and easy on the eyes, they have lost their sturdiness at the back. West Brom have only won seven matches in the Premiership in 2013.
Despite their apparent patience with past managers, the upper-management at West Brom is an ambitious one. They especially expect progression in return for their financial investment in new players. Therefore, it is no surprise, given that it is a pivotal moment in the season, that the club would decide to make a move.
However, some sympathetic arguments could be made for Clarke’s case. The club’s performance last season may have raised the expectations a little too high for this season. Although the club did perform well, finishing a club-high of eighth in the Premier League, expecting a higher finish this season may have been unrealistic.
Furthermore, the players bought for big money over the summer are not exactly known for consistency. Sessegnon was reportedly difficult to work with at former club Sunderland and has showed only streaks of brilliance in his Premier League career. Victor Anichebe, although much more known for his hard work than Sessengon, has similarly struggled to maintain good form as a Premier-level striker.
Despite how circumstance played against him, Clarke was unable to turn his teams performances. The firing marks the end of Steve Clarke’s first head management role. He will surely have another shot at the position, though it will likely come at a club below Premier League level. It may be exactly what he needs, however.
Having taken over what was a distinctly “Hodgson” football club, he was never really able to build a team with a style of his own. Perhaps at a lower club, he will be allowed the time and patience to form a team all his own.
Keith Downing, West Brom’s assistant head coach, will be taking over as caretaker while the club’s directors search for a new manager. Some obvious candidates for the open position are Neil Warnock, Avram Grant or Alex McLeish. These three are always some of the first names to come up however, as they are men with Premier League experience who are currently looking for a way back in.
Other more imaginative possibilities are the Martin Jol or Stuart Pearce.
Jol, recently out of a job at Fulham, may be looking to immediately jump back into the mix. Although the end of his time there was troublesome, he is still a highly respected manager among many experts.
Pearce, who is currently overseeing England’s under-21 squad, has worked under former manager Roy Hodgson. Although he is yet to manage a professional squad of his own, he may be ready to step up to the call. He has shown promise thus far in his career and West Brom may be looking to return to a style of play they adopted under Hodgson.