We can’t complain. Over the past five years, we have had some great managers and the club has stabilized itself as one of the season regulars in the Premier League. The Baggies have been sitting in the top flight since 2010 but there are sudden fears of us becoming a ‘yo-yo team’ again with the team sitting in the relegation mix without a manager and any attacking influence. Who’s next to sit in the hot seat at the Hawthorns, we will have to wait and see but here are the likely candidates:
Schaaf is the current favourite to be appointed as the club went into the final stage of discussions and it has been quoted by certain news outlets such as ESPN that he is the name that will be announced before this weekend’s game against Southampton. Schaaf is the German manager who led Werder Bremen for 14 years after playing for the club for 17 seasons. He has a great record in the Bundesliga having won the title in 2004 and finishing as runners up in 2006 and 2008. But after the team performing recorded their lowest finish under Schaaf last year (finishing in 14th place), he was dismissed from the job in May. Schaaf recorded a win percentage of 47.75% and during his time at Bremen he took the team to the Europa league final in 2009 and won the DFB Pokal (German FA Cup) twice.
He undoubtedly has an impressive record and you would say he fits the bill for the job but I see plenty of flaws with this candidate. Having spent his entire life in Germany with Werder, how Schaaf would adapt to life in a different country is still to be seen. There would be an initial language barrier between him and the players which would be especially difficult with no player in the squad coming from Germany. The club wants to keep the same backroom staff but it has been reported that Schaaf wants to bring two of his coaches with him. Adapt to his style of coaching that Schaaf has developed for the German league is likely to cause problems for the players and with only six months left in the season, it may be not enough time to keep the club in the top flight. Long term he could be a great appointment but I don’t feel the club should take such a gamble at this point in the season. Maybe keeping faith in Downing for the remainder of the season with Schaaf joining in the summer may be a better approach.
We’ve never had a Spanish manager. In fact the only foreign manager the club has had was Argentine Osvaldo (Ossie) Ardiles in 1992, who subsequently lasted only a year. Quique Flores is a currently managing in the United Arab Emirates but has hinted that a move to the Premiership would be of interest. Like Schaaf, he has had no experience in England but has enjoyed much success abroad. He guided Valencia to 3rd place in La Liga in 2006 whilst getting them to the quarter finals of the Champions League. He did eventually win some silverware when he guided Atletico Madrid to the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup success in 2010. Now entering his 13th year as a manager, he is vastly experienced having taken charge of several other sides including the Real Madrid youth team, Getafe, Benfica as well as two teams from the UAE. He too has a very comprehensive win percentage but the same issue has to be raised whether he can keep the side in the division?
Flores has spent the last two seasons in a league which is dominated by money and is far less competitive than the Premiership. With no guaranteed budget in the January window to play with, Flores could struggle to make an impact on the team before the end of the season. In addition, I couldn’t see Flores failing to adapt to the pace of the EPL since it’s such a contrast to the slower pace of La Liga where he has spent much of his time. Just look at Juande Ramos, who made the switch from Sevilla to Tottenham in 2007 and failed to adapt to the pace of the British game. For me, the next manager has to be British and has to have had experience here in England.
Arguably, Mackay is the favourite amongst the fans along with Stuart Pearce just behind. The Scottish boss was pushed out of Cardiff by dictating owner Vincent Tan and is currently available on the managerial merry go round. He had a remarkable record with the Welsh side and he led the team to glories galore. The Blue birds achieved promotion in 2013 finishing as the Champions of the second division and the previous year he guided the club to the League cup final where they lost to Liverpool and the play off semi-finals where they were edged by West Ham. Mackay has had a significantly shorter managerial career compared to other two candidates mentioned before but he has experience in England, which is vital.
He had an unsteady time at Watford but he clicked at Cardiff and was really unfortunate to get fired just over three weeks ago. Having been out of the game only a short period of time, it may be the ideal time to bring him in but there are some concerns over whether he needs the break from management at this moment in time to get over what happened to him at Cardiff.
Stuart Pearce is another commendable candidate. He’s been out of management for just over a year since leaving the England Under 21’s but he has the fierce personality to lead the side in a bottom of the table scrap. He has worked at different levels in the national team but also at Manchester City for over two years which gives him a good footing in terms of management. West Brom would be the ideal club for Psycho and I think with his vast national team experience he could put together a squad of young exciting home grown players instead of resorting to looking abroad for quick foreign solutions. There is plenty of experience in the team already so Pearce or Mackay given some investment in January and using the likes of Gera, Mulumbu and Brunt could drag the team away from the drop.
Personally, Malky is the choice for me but I wouldn’t discount Keith Downing from the frame either as he has done a great job as caretaker manager. He is unbeaten in the league and achieved his first win against Newcastle. The defeat in the FA Cup could be a blessing in disguise and this will allow the next manager to use the whole squad in the league to hopefully find a team that can get on a run of form.
By West Brom Fan, Richard Waterhouse (@richwaterhouse7 )