With Roy Hodgson leaving for England at the end of the season, the Baggies must find a suitable replacement and here I go through five candidates that could take the hot seat.
As we all know, Roy Hodgson was appointed as England’s new manager a week or so ago and he will leave his position at The Hawthorns, after a year and a half in charge, at the end of the season. It’s a significant loss for West Brom, who under Hodgson have formed a solid establishment in the English top flight.
But now it’s time to move on, and progress under a new, fresh face. A series of names have been floating about, but just who will be appointed as Baggies chief? Here are five candidates that could fill the empty seat.
Candidate number 1 – Chris Hughton
Hughton was also linked with the West Brom job when now-Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo was fired in February 2011 – but he was deemed surplus to requirements and then took the Birmingham City job. For me, he’s a decent manager with good pedigree and possesses solid style of playing the game. He was unfairly dismissed at Newcastle as he left the club lying in 11th spot in the Premier League, and he has done a tidy job at Birmingham with a shoestring budget and a squad plagued with injuries. He has Premier League experience, and could do a satisfactory job at West Brom if given the chance with Blues staying in the Championship for next term following their midweek defeat to Blackpool in the play-off semi-final. Manager Rating 7/10
Candidate number 2 – Claudio Ranieri
I know what you’re thinking. Claudio Ranieri to West Brom? No chance. However, he is actually the leading favourite to take over. The 60-year-old Italian, who has coached in Italy, Spain and England – has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game, and if appointed could help Albion retain their mid-table security. The only thing is – he’s used to dealing with big players, with big reputations and big financial backing. It wouldn’t be the same kind of pressure at West Brom, but that could work in his favour. He nurtures players well, and is efficient in his systems – naturally as an Italian. Could be the kind of calibre of manager the Baggies need to push on. Manager Rating 8.5/10
Candidate number 3 – Alan Curbishley
The East London-born former Charlton and West Ham chief was also reportedly linked with the vacant Wolves job following the sacking of Mick McCarthy – after he announced on Sky Sports News that he was interested in getting back into club management. Well, West Brom could be just the right place. I like Curbishley – he comes across as calm and collective and decent in the transfer market, too. He did a splendid job with Charlton and won over the fans before heading to West Ham, where he kept the Hammers up – albeit with a Carlos Tevez, who controversially switched to London, strike at Old Trafford. Mind you, he’d have to cut down on the punditry. Good coach with healthy experience, though. Manager Rating 7.5/10
Candidate number 4 – Roberto Martinez
For me, Martinez is actually one of the best managers in the English top flight. He’s incredibly underestimated, probably because of the club – no offence to Wigan – that he’s based at. He’s another who I think would do well with the Baggies, as he was Premier League pedigree and is capable of fulfilling such a task. It’s understood, despite his close relationship with Latics chairman David Whelan, that the Spaniard is attracting interest from a number of high profile clubs and could make his move in the summer. He’s done a fantastic job at Wigan, keeping them in the Premier League once more this season. A man who sticks to his principles, a man of true belief and professionalism. Deserves a crack at a bigger club. Manager Rating 8/10
Candidate number 5 – Gus Poyet
According to several newspapers, the Brighton boss is a target for Albion. Much like Martinez, he prides himself on hard working players and sticks to playing football whatever the situation. Brighton do have a sustainable idea behind them and are developing rapidly with their impressive Amex Stadium, which may persuade the former Chelsea midfielder to stay put on the Seaside. But would a swap for the Midlands be worth it? Premier League football would be guaranteed, and a fresh start at a new club. I think he’s got the talent and one-on-one skills to succeed. A long shot I think but don’t think too many Albion supporters would be disheartened with his appointment.