On the most recent episode of the Big Kick Off Football Show over on YouTube, the lads got chatting about potential managerial replacements in the Premier League.
The prospects of Frank Lampard to Crystal Palace, Nuno Espirito Santo to Spurs and Sergio Conceicao to Wolves were all tossed about during the discussion.
We’d like to carry on that conversation and look at another English club searching for a new permanent manager, West Bromwich Albion.
It was announced ahead of the final day of the 2020/21 Premier League season, that the most recent West Brom manager Sam Allardyce would be stepping down from his position after their last league game against Leeds United.
Allardyce took over from Slaven Bilic in December 2020, signing an 18-month contract.
His only objective was to keep West Brom in the Premier League. With the club in 19th position when he took over.
Unfortunately for everyone at the club, Big Sam couldn’t pull off another miracle and save West Brom from relegation into the Championship.
Despite picking up some notable results, including a famous 5-2 away win over Chelsea. The writing was always on the wall for the Baggies, and they were officially relegated in early May, following a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal.
This was the first time Sam Allardyce managed a team to relegation in the Premier League. Really, who knows what’s next for the 66-year-old.
But his departure has left a gap in the hotseat at West Brom, and they’ll be looking to get a new boss in straight away, to hopefully guide them back to the Premier League.
So, let’s have a look at some potential contenders for the role.
5. Steve Cooper
The 41-year-old is being heavily tipped to fill the boots of Allardyce. So much so, that plenty of bookmakers have him as one of the frontrunners for the position.
Honestly, we can’t really see it happening, but felt we had to include him for the sake of balance.
Cooper is currently in charge at Swansea City, who find themselves in the Championship play-off final against Brentford.
In our eyes, the outcome of that game will have a massive bearing on if Cooper heads to West Brom or not.
If Swansea successfully gain promotion to the Premier League, you’d imagine the Welshman would be crazy to stay in the Championship with West Brom.
He’s changed the fortunes of Swansea since taking over in 2019. His reliance on discipline defensive play and aggressive possession football could give his Swansea side a good shelf-life in the Premier League, if they’re to find themselves in that position.
Surely, Steve Cooper will want to guide the Swans upon their return to the top tier of English football.
4. Derek McInnes
McInnes is another relatively young manager that could take over at West Brom. Plus, is someone that knows the club well.
The Scotland native spent three years at the club during his playing career, from 2000 until 2003. The former midfielder made 88 league appearances between the Championship and Premier League.
Since retiring, he’s been involved in management. With a spell at Bristol City sandwiched between successful stints in Scotland, with St. Johnstone and Aberdeen, respectively.
He guided his St. Johnstone side back to the SPL, albeit well over a decade ago.
McInnes has been linked with the West Brom job in the past. He’s also highly regarded by the higher-ups at the club.
So, maybe it’s time for him to make his swift return to management, after leaving Aberdeen back in March.
3. Valerien Ismael
The Frenchman is the current boss at Barnsley, who made it all the way to the Championship play-off semi finals this season.
Despite losing out to Swansea, this was a fantastic achievement for Ismael who only took over back in October. Especially, when you consider Barnsley narrowing avoided relegation last season.
The 45-year-old had a brief spell in England with Crystal Palace in 1998, during his playing days.
He’s spent a large portion of his professional career in Germany, but now finds himself back in English football.
While you must commend him for what he’s done at Barnsley already, the unpredictable nature of the Championship may see the Tykes drop back down the table.
With West Brom’s reputation as a yo-yo club, Ismael may see the Baggies as his express ticket to Premier League management.
2. David Wagner
The former Huddersfield manager is another name highly linked with the vacant West Brom role. With Sky Sports even confirming he’s a contender for the position.
Wagner last managed in his home country of Germany, during a disaster spell with Schalke.
He took over in May 2019, on a deal until June 2022.
During the 2019/20 season, his side broke the club record for most consecutive league games without a win, beating the old record of 15. That figure would rise as high as 18, under the tutelage of Wagner. With an embarrassing 8-0 defeat on the opening day of the 2020/21 season acting as the lowlight of that horrific run. Schalke would ultimately be relegated from the Bundesliga.
Really, the less said about his time in Schalke, the better.
He’s shown his ability as a manager in the English game already. His reliance on togetherness within a squad, charismatic leadership, and intelligence in terms of recruitment makes him an exciting possible acquisition for West Brom.
No disrespect, but he’d certainly be more dynamic than another recycled Championship level manager. Wagner would even be seen as a pallet cleanser to the unattractive style of Sam Allardyce.
1. Chris Wilder
He’s the favourite for the role according to many bookmakers, pundits, and media personnel, and it’s easy to see why.
West Brom will have ambitions of jumping right back up to the Premier League. With the long-term goal of establishing themselves there.
For that, they’ll need a gaffer that has experience in the department of gaining promotion. Along with a desire to stay at a club long-term.
Wilder has an impressive track record of gaining promotion with his sides.
He guided Oxford United into the EFL back in 2010, Northampton into League One back in 2016 and of course, his boyhood club Sheffield United into the Premier League after the 2018/19 season. That’s without mentioning bringing the latter into the Championship in 2017.
Granted, you’ll have to sacrifice a certain standard of attractive football when playing under Wilder.
But add in his knowledge of the Championship and the fact he tends to stay at clubs for around five years, which is a considerable spell in modern football, and you can see he’d be the perfect fit at West Brom.