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Albion's New Head Coach, Potential Candidates...

12/05/14, 16:57 by A-I Editor

West Bromwich Albion have today confirmed the departure of Head Coach Pepe Mel after less than six-months at the Hawthorns.

Mel was no doubt an affable character and we are unlikely to know exactly what he could have achieved at the Hawthorns. The Spaniard's arrival as Head Coach in January 2014 placed him in a difficult situation at a time of some flux for the club. Language difficulties, a lack of time in the transfer market and an instant relegation battle, as well as a lack of his own staff placed Mel in a situation less than ideal to a manager new to the English game. His early ideas of a high-tempo pressing and possession game were radical to a squad who had been formed into a more defensive counter attacking unit under predecessors Steve Clarke and Roy Hodgson. Soon the more familiar pattern of play, not necessarily a bad thing having brought Albion some success in recent years, was reverted to with short term objectives of winning games a must.

It is to the Spaniards credit he achieved the objective of keeping Albion in the Premier League and he will depart with best wishes from the majority of Albion supporters, yet three wins in 17 games is not a great record. The root and branch revolution Mel required to stay, not just on player recruitment but also style of play always seemed a step too far.

With Pepe Mel's short tenure as Head Coach of West Bromwich Albion at an end it would surely seem wise Albion turn to a new Head Coach with experience of English football and one who certainly has the task of refreshing both the squad and style of play, if not one of revolution.

Personally I am reluctant to criticise the core of Albion players who have brought Premier League stability on the pitch to Albion in the last four years and promotion from the Championship before it. However, it is clear the performances on the pitch in the last 18-months has a worrying direction of travel. The fact is Albion have only won eleven of a possible 56 Premier League games in the last 18 months (<20%). The points return over three managers and 18 months is 51 points from 56 games. That pattern of form would place Albion on 35 points next season, a points total that has spelt Premier League relegation in three of the last four seasons. It is clear Albion need revitalisation and with more than ten players with uncertain futures at the club, perhaps even a job of rebuilding is required. No one can say the warning signals are not there for the future if Albion don't get the appointment of the new Head Coach correct and back him with shrewd operation in the transfer market.

Albion on and off the pitch need to learn from what many would consider major mistakes in the 2013/14 season and that process surely has to start with the appointment of someone to make better informed football decisions and a wise appointment as a Head Coach. The football club surely now need to make an appointment to generate stability over the next few years.

So here on lets take a look at some of the candidates for the Head Coach position;

Chris Hughton

55-year-old Chris Hughton, recently departed from Norwich City, would appear to be a strong candidate for the Albion hot seat. Highly qualified and respected as a coach, Hughton has spent approaching 40-years in the game. Following a playing career predominantly at Tottenham Hotspur, the former Republic of Ireland international has over 20-years experience as a coach, assistant manager or manager in international football, the Premier League and the Championship.

Known as a hands on manager, well liked and someone who has worked with integrity under testing conditions at Newcastle United and Birmingham City, Chris Hughton would appear the outstanding candidate and a good fit for Albion. Speculation suggests Albion have more than monitored Hughton's progress in the near past and following his departure from Norwich City his appointment may now appeal to both parties.

Malkay Mackay

42-year-old Malkay Mackay is sure to be another name on Albion's radar. After a strong playing career which involved spells at Celtic, Norwich, West Ham and Watford, Mackay moved into management and has achieved good success at both Watford and Cardiff City and is regarded as a highly promising manager. Respected for meticulous planning and demanding consistency of his staff, Mackay guided Cardiff City to promotion to the Premier League and a League Cup final after rebuilding the Bluebirds squad. Seemingly a clash of personalities with owner Vincent Tan ultimately cost him his job in South Wales, yet it is wise to remember at the time of his departure Cardiff City were not in the relegation zone, despite ultimately being relegated in 2013/14.

With Mackay now clear of any litigation with Cardiff he will no doubt be back in football soon, however, ironically the club Chris Hughton recently departed from, Norwich City, despite relegation, could have a strong pull for their former player Mackay.

David Moyes (or more likely Steve Round)

While you would assume a phone call to the representatives of David Moyes is likely to be less than productive, unless like Roy Hodgson he feels he and Albion could be a good fit after a difficult period at a big club, it is his former assistant Steve Round, perhaps not as well known to many, who may be a candidate of interest.

Considering Albion's criteria is for a Head Coach, perhaps guided by the addition to the technical staff to guide the football side in concert with current Sporting Director Richard Garlick, Steve Round appears an outstanding candidate. Injury forced the 43-year-old to retire from football at 24, yet an instant move into coaching has seen the Burton-upon-trent born former full-back accrue almost 20-years coaching experience on the international stage with England and during spells at Derby, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Everton and Manchester United.

Despite not being a household name, Round's coaching experience and a forward thinking approach that has seen him travel the world to develop his skills have no doubt given him a strong reputation inside football and he would certainly bring a fresh approach at Albion. However, it isn't clear if he ultimately desires to be a Head Coach or return to football quickly after his departure from Manchester United in April 2014.

Tim Sherwood

While 45-year-old Tim Sherwood may currently be employed as Head Coach of Tottenham Hotspur, speculation would suggest his tenure at White Hart Lane is limited.

A playing career that saw Sherwood win the Premier league title and play for England as a creative midfielder was a fantastic base for the Hertfordshire born former Blackburn Rovers Captain to move into coaching, working his way through the ranks at Spurs following his appointment to a coaching role in 2008. For a long period widely regarded as a future manager, Sherwood has done little to downplay his potential after taking the Spurs hot seat in December 2013 and leading them to sixth place in the Premier League.

Sherwood would no doubt be a breath of fresh air at the Hawthorns and would set about shaking up the club. Strong connections between Albion and Spurs will surely help inform any potential decision as to whether Sherwood's approach would ultimately be one Albion are looking for at this time, should his spell in London be cut short.

Tony Mowbray

While many may consider you should never return, how many Albion supporters feel the story between West Bromwich Albion and Tony Mowbray is not yet complete? While Mowbray's departure from the Hawthorns to Glasgow Celtic in June 2009 did leave a bitter taste, time is a great healer.

Upon reflection Mowbray did bring attractive football and relative success to Albion. Somehow there seems unfinished business between the two, the fans had brought into Mowbray's vision of building the club before his departure. With still a core of players signed under the Mowbray regime at the Hawthorns, could his return bring an instant impact? Could a greater financial budget at Albion bring the resources required for Mowbray, who has surely developed his philosophy after less than ideal spells with Celtic and Middlesbrough, to rebuild Albion in the style the supporters want?

With 50-year-old Mowbray out of work since leaving Middlesbrough in October 2013, could time and experience on both sides set the scene for Mowbray's return? It would seem unlikely, but surely a consideration?

Dave Jones

57-year-old Dave Jones has been linked with the Albion hot seat in the past and he could be considered a Head Coach likely to be in Albion's thinking again.

Jones no doubt has vast experience stretching back to 1990 as a manager and is known to favour passing, attacking football. However, former connections to Wolves and a disappointing recent spell at Sheffield Wednesday could count against him.

If Albion do add Terry Burton to the technical staff in the coming weeks, strong connections with Jones could increase the possibility of seeing the two reunited.


While we have covered six of the likely candidates, it is possible Albion could look abroad in their search, however, surely that isn't a gamble Albion can take with this vital appointment? Other names linked to the job may include Sean Dyche, Alan Curbishley, Gianfranco Zola and former Albion player Martin Jol, however, a range of factors appear to make these candidates outsiders for the job at this stage.[/size][/font]