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5 Replacements For Pardew At West Brom

 • by Tom Bodell
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The writing had long been on the wall for West Brom and Alan Pardew. With as many Premier League wins as taxis stolen during his tenure, the only surprise was the decision took so long.

Pardew had, reportedly, been on the brink long before now. But after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Burnley the axe finally fell. With the club hurtling towards the Championship, whoever succeeds Pardew won’t be judged on the remaining weeks of the season.

That leaves Albion looking for their third head coach of the season after Tony Pulis was relieved of his duties earlier in the campaign.

A week ago the club’s new chief executive, Mark Jenkins, admitted there was no money left for wages. Austerity will be the name of the game for the new man and – bar a miracle – in the second tier.

Hardly an attractive proposition.

So who will succeed Pardew at the Hawthorns? Football Whispers have assessed the possible candidates to come up with a shortlist of five for Albion owner Guochuan Lai.

Michael Appleton

One of the early favourites for the job is former Albion player and coach Appleton. Currently assistant manager to Claude Puel at Leicester City, the 42-year-old was caretaker West Brom boss in 2011 following the sacking of Roberto di Matteo.

He has since embarked on a managerial career of his own, almost exclusively working for chaotic clubs before winning promotion to League One with Oxford United.

However, Appleton surprised many when he left the U’s last summer to become Craig Shakespeare’s No.2 at Leicester. Impressive as caretaker boss following Shakespeare’s sacking, the former Manchester United prodigy impressed in the role.

The question mark over Appleton, therefore, is whether he would be keen to return to frontline management. Having served his time with Portsmouth, Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers, a place in the madhouse could hold little appeal.

Mick McCarthy

The bolshie Yorkshireman will be looking for a new job at the end of the season come what may. Ipswich Town announced last weekend the former Ireland boss will leave Portman Road after six years when his contract expires.

Having steered the Tractor Boys away from relegation, McCarthy then mounted a play-off campaign on a shoestring budget. Although the last few seasons haven’t been as successful, McCarthy is a master of getting more from a team than the sum of its parts.

Perhaps the best example of that is the promotion he won with unfashionable Wolves in 2009. His association with West Brom’s rivals is a blot on McCarthy’s copybook, not that the cantankerous boss will care.

Asked about the prospect of succeeding Pardew, McCarthy replied: “The Albion? That would p*** a few people off wouldn’t it? But you know me, I like p***ing people off.”

Nigel Pearson

Somewhat ironically for a man who once asked a journalist whether he could bury his head in the sand, the former Leicester City boss has kept his head down since being sacked by Derby County in October 2016.

Since then the 54-year-old has been steadily rebuilding his reputation with Belgian First Division B side OH Leuven, finishing second.

However, a shot at redemption in English football could be too much to turn down.

Pearson’s reputation has taken something of a battering in recent years. His time at Leicester ended in controversial circumstances while his short stint at Derby was a disaster.

But he has a body of work to point to in the second tier – with Southampton, Hull and Leicester (twice) – which would make him a good candidate. On top of that, Pearson also has a history with Albion as assistant and caretaker manager.

Michael O’Neill

It wasn’t that long ago that the Northern Ireland boss was in talks with Scotland about succeeding Gordon Strachan. Discussions with the Tartan Army eventually ground to a halt handing Alex McLeish the reigns at Hampden Park.

However, for a man whose club career comprised spells with Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers before becoming Northern Ireland manager in 2011, moving to the Hawthorns would represent a significant step forward in his career.

The former Newcastle United midfielder has shown a tremendous ability to squeeze every last drop from his players, demonstrated by taking Northern Ireland to the 2016 European Championships.

And the 48-year-old would even have allies in the camp already in Albion stalwart Chris Brunt and one-time Manchester City transfer target Jonny Evans – assuming the Ulsterman sticks around after relegation.

Dean Smith

Another of the early favourites for the post is Brentford boss Smith. The 47-year-old has the Bees 11th in the Championship, seven points shy of the play-off places.

The former centre-back was born in Great Barr, just a couple of miles from the Hawthorns. A player at Walsall, Smith returned to start his managerial career at the Bescot Stadium in 2011.

He is another who has proven his mettle in the Championship over several years, picking Brentford up off their knees following Marinus Dijkhuizen’s disastrous spell at the helm and turning them into sold top-half fare.

Brentford have consistently seen their best players picked off by bigger clubs in that time but Smith has recruited well. That is the kind of solidity Albion could do with.

Assistant manager Richard O’Kelly, who followed Smith from Walsall, is a West Brom supporter. Meanwhile, current Albion keeper coach Neil Cutler worked under Smith previously. The pieces are in place but it would be the biggest job of Smith’s managerial career to date.

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