What is next for West Brom after sacking Tony Pulis?
West Bromwich Albion announced on Monday that they had sacked their manager Tony Pulis after over two-and-a-half years in charge of the club. The club are currently in 17th position and are only one point above the relegation zone. At the weekend, they delivered a toothless performance against Chelsea and got easily beaten 4-0 at home. The supporters weren’t expecting to beat the champions, but the lack of fight shown was a real concern. 12 matches have been played and there have been reasons to worry for the Baggies, which is why a change is being made now.
Gary Megson has been placed in temporary charge until the club find a permanent replacement for Pulis. The caretaker manager has been in charge at the Hawthorns before and has a lot of management experience, therefore the club do have time to make the right appointment. BBC Sport report the following quotes from chairman John Williams about the decision to sack the manager:
“These decisions are never taken lightly but always in the interests of the club.
“We are in a results business and over the back end of last season and this season to date, ours have been very disappointing.
“We would like to place on record our appreciation of Tony’s contribution and hard work during a period of transition for the club which included a change of ownership. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”
The 59-year-old has been an ever-present in the Premier League since he got Stoke City promoted back in 2008. In the years that have followed his arrival as a top-flight boss, Pulis has maintained an impressive record of not being relegated during spells with Stoke, Crystal Palace and West Brom. It is a commendable record, but he has failed to show the required skills to take the next step as a manager and develop a club. This is why the Baggies have decided to make a change.
There will be a lot of pundits that will support Pulis and deliver the ‘be careful what you wish for line, but West Brom supporters will be happy with the decision. Although they are nearly guaranteed to stay up under the Welshman, the football on show has not been exciting and there is little ambition to achieve anything more than survival. As a football fan, it is important to have belief in your team and to see progression from season-to-season. The Baggies fans didn’t have that and the process of supporting the team became a dull one. This will increase excitement and see positivity return to the Hawthorns.
The poor results at the club have been a problem since March as they have taken just 12 points from their last 21 league fixtures. Pulis has been known for playing a defensive style of football and this was tolerated when results were good, but one home league win in eight months isn’t good enough. Their lack of attacking threat has been a major disappointment this season as they have managed only nine goals in the opening 12 matches. Meanwhile, they have conceded 18 during that time.
During his tenure at the Hawthorns, West Brom have scored less than a goal per game in the Premier League with 105 in 106 matches. It is easy to see why supporters are welcoming a managerial change, as it has been Pulis’ tenure has not been an exciting one to follow the club. They haven’t won a league match since August and the negative momentum was starting to build. They have two big home matches coming up against Newcastle United and Crystal Palace. Now was the right time to make a change.
Who will come in to replace him?
This is going to be an interesting few weeks to watch as West Brom will be looking to bring in a manager that can take them on and establish them as a top-half side. There isn’t a great deal of British candidates out there and supporters may be hoping that the club explores the foreign market.
The current bookmakers’ odds aren’t to be trusted as it is a fresh market and there is little known about the approach from the West Brom board. Michael O’Neill is an early favourite due to his success with the Northern Ireland team. There will be a few familiar faces at the Hawthorns and his overachievement on the international stage could be enough to land him a Premier League job. It would be a big risk as he has no Premier League management experience and he may not be a name to get the supporters excited.
Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew are both high in the odds, with both without a job at the time of writing. The former would be a similar coach to Pulis, albeit one with a little more attacking intent. It would be a good appointment, but it may not represent the change in philosophy that the supporters want. The latter is more attack-minded, but he has been out of a job for nearly a year and his managerial record is patchy at best.
Ronald Koeman, Chris Wilder and Derek McInnes are other names linked to the post at this early stage. There will be more names that come out of the woodwork in the coming days. Based on the early odds, it seems that West Brom are likely to go for another British manager. From the names mentioned, O’Neill will be the most exciting appointment, but there are a lot of unknowns regarding his capabilities. It’s an exciting time to be a Baggies fan, but it is crucial they get this appointment right otherwise they may regret this decision.