West Brom can't wait much longer on manager

Posted by Matthew Evans

Matej Vydra is grabbed by Zoltan Gera after scoring West Brom's late leveller against Hull.GettyImagesMatej Vydra is grabbed by Zoltan Gera after scoring West Brom's late leveller against Hull.

Matej Vydra may have rescued a point for West Bromwich Albion with a late equaliser against Hull City on Saturday, but the performance was all too familiar, only accentuating the need for the Baggies to find their next head coach as soon as possible.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise really, with caretaker coach Keith Downing having admitted in his press conference he had been influenced heavily by Steve Clarke. Therefore it was no surprise that Downing picked a side that would would have been very similar to one Clarke would have chosen, albeit in a slightly different shape.

The game was typical of the way West Brom have played over the past month. The first half display was defensive, slow and tentative. It was no surprise that Hull then scored with their first attack, with Albion being caught out horribly on the counterattack.

The tactics were all wrong, with Stephane Sessengeon and Scott Sinclair offering little to no attacking threat from the wide areas, with Billy Jones and Liam Ridgewell having to provide all the width.

Against a strong central midfield trio, Youssuff Mulumbu, Chris Brunt and James Morrison struggled to take control of the game in the way Tom Huddlestone did for Hull. This was a game which was made for Claudio Yacob, even though he's not been at his best lately. He would have broken up play far better than Morrison and Brunt, while Yacob's presence always seems to have a positive effect on the way Mulumbu performs.

Whilst the second half performance wasn't great, it was a marked improvement on how Albion played the first. Some credit must go to Downing for that, as he withdrew the ineffective Sinclair and replaced him with the lively Saido Berahino, which also gave the crowd a lift after the uninspiring first-half display. However, it was Downing's other two substitutions who created and scored Albion's late equaliser.

Zoltan Gera received the ball from Shane Long's lay-off and finally provided a bit of quality in the final third, something which the Baggies have been lacking lately. His delicate through ball put Vydra in on goal and he finished calmly, showing the true mark of a scorer in taking the one chance he was given. Credit again must go to Downing for giving Vydra longer than five minutes at the end of the game to perform.

Despite the goal, the performance merely shows that West Brom are in need desperate of some impetus and fresh ideas from whoever their new head coach may be. At the moment, it seems that Albion are not any closer to recruiting a replacement for Clarke. They can't afford to wait too long as the Baggies are in a dangerous slump that could very well continue as they face three difficult games over the festive period. As West Brom only took one point from three eminently winnable games, they will now have to start picking up points when they aren't expected.

What West Brom need from their new coach is someone who is going to return the confidence to the players, someone who looks to play with a style that will allow West Brom's many attacking options to flourish. And this may mean that Albion will have to compromise in their search.

I believe that the type of candidate that the Albion board had in mind when Clarke left was something with vast top-flight experience, who had something to prove and preferably, was unattached. In an essence, they were looking for another Roy Hodgson, but there is no one like him available. Martin Jol is perhaps the closest in terms of profile to Hodgson, but in the final few months of his tenure at Fulham, Jol looked a beaten man and it seems he is looking to take a break from football.

This means that Albion will probably have to change the profile of the head coach they are looking for and may even have to look past their unwillingness to pay a decent sum of compensation to release a manager from their contract with another club. It seems that it will be another younger manager who takes on the challenge of keeping Albion in the Premier League, and it is unlikely that they will have great experience of the division.

The current bookmakers' favourite for the job is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, now coaching Molde in Norway. The ex-Manchester United man clearly has no experience of managing in the Premier League, but he does know the division from his playing days and will undoubtedly be able to call on the advice of Sir Alex Ferguson if he needed. Solskjaer also has little over six months left on his contract, so compensation for him wouldn't be too hefty.

Another name linked with the job is Malky Mackay. Again, he doesn't have a lot of top-flight experience and his situation at Cardiff is a bit messy to say the least. He is said to be highly rated within the game and by Albion chairman Jeremy Peace, but it doesn't seem like the type of appointment West Brom would make. Mackay does set up his sides to be organised and strong defensively, which might be something that appeals to the men charged with making the decisions.

A left-field name that has come into the running recently is former Real Betis head coach Pepe Mel. He has experience of top-flight football in a major league, albeit not the Premier League. He is renowned for playing an exciting, attacking style of football based on passing the ball out from the back, something which the Albion faithful would love to see after the turgid recent displays. He is also out of work, but that is worrying in itself, as he was only sacked by Betis three weeks ago with his side sitting bottom of the league.

What is obvious is that whoever does take the job is going to have a big job on their hands, but not an impossible one.


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