Baggies board have big decisions ahead
As West Bromwich Albion’s tumultuous season splutters and struggles its way to the finish line it’s looking increasingly like the poor decisions taken by the board throughout the season may well cost Albion their Premier League status.
April 23rd, 2014
With just a handful of games left, Albion lie in 16th place, just 3 points above the danger zone. The situation looks ominous for Norwich with their remaining fixtures, but with the bottom three all picking up results in recent weeks, West Brom must be looking over their shoulders in fear.
If their fears are realised and the Baggies do start next season in the Championship, then the blame will lie squarely with Jeremy Peace and the board. The Albion hierarchy have made one disastrous decision after another throughout the course of the season and their chickens may soon be coming home to roost.
The decision to relieve Steve Clarke of his duties split opinion amongst Baggies fans and although results and performances were disappointing towards the end of his tenure, I can’t envisage us struggling in the way we have had Clarke kept his job. Another questionable move was the sale of Shane Long to relegation rivals Hull City. Although the reported £7 million fee represented good value for a player entering the final year of his contract, the failure to replace Long has been Albion’s undoing. Despite not being one of my favourite players, I can see how Long would fit very well into Pepe Mel’s high-pressing, high-tempo style of football. The fact that he has had to rely on the patchy fitness of Victor Anichebe, the deteriorating form of Saido Berahino and the fluctuating form of Matej Vydra and Thievy have made Mel’s job incredibly difficult.
Which brings me to my final point, the appointment of Mel. Steve Clarke was dismissed following a 1-0 defeat to Cardiff on 14th December and it wasn’t until over one month later on 20th January that Mel finally took charge of his first game. The fact it took so long to replace Clarke tells me that the decision taken to sack him was rushed, with no real progression plan in place as there always has been in the past.
Although I believe in Mel’s passion and love for the game, I’m not sure the current Albion squad are good enough to play his high-tempo, pressing tactics. There have been some stunning first-half performances but The Baggies have not been able to see games out and have surrendered two- and three-goal leads in their last two home games against Cardiff and Tottenham respectively.
I like Mel’s footballing philosophy but looking back, I think it may be the case that he was the right man at the wrong time. When Albion sacked Clarke, they needed someone to come in and motivate a talented but deflated squad. Mel still speaks limited English, which must make it difficult for him to get his point across to the team, which probably contributed to the fact that it took 8 games before recording his first victory.
I think Mel has been treated poorly by the board that appointed him and wouldn’t blame him for leaving at the end of the season but whatever division we are in, I’d like to see him stay and put his stamp on the side as I have seen some promising shoots of recovery.
Whether he will be given the chance to do this will ultimately be up to Mr Peace and his board members, who need to step up to the plate and make some very important decisions about the future of West Bromwich Albion. And they must get those decisions right.