Pitchside

West Brom runners and riders: Back to the future?

Pitchside Europe

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West Brom manager Steve Clarke was sacked on Saturday night with the club citing his awful win percentage of 20% across 2013 as justification for the move.

Clarke’s sacking has met with consternation in some quarters, but as former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins could testify, such sentiments only linger briefly before the search begins for a new man to take the club forward.

Here we profile each of the five leading candidates to take the job – according to the bookies’ odds.

Roberto Di Matteo (3/1)

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Di Matteo took West Brom into the Premier League in 2010 but lost his job in February of the following year after a run of 13 defeats in 18 games. At the time it was felt Di Matteo was not the calibre of manager required to keep the club in the top flight – something successor Roy Hodgson succeeded in doing – but his record has been embellished since, and in some style. Di Matteo replaced Andre Villas-Boas as caretaker Chelsea manager in March 2012 and won the FA Cup and the Champions League in a wonderful summer’s work.

However, things soured the following season when Roman Abramovich grew tired of Di Matteo’s attempts to change Chelsea’s playing style while struggling to maintain acceptable results and sacked him. Reportedly, Di Matteo is still being paid a mammoth £130,000 a week by the West London giants, which could hamper any negotiations with West Brom, should they seek to recruit the Italian for a second time.

Martin Jol (4/1)

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Recently sacked by Fulham at the drawn-out end of a marriage that grew ever more loveless, Jol’s reputation has taken a dent after his underwhelming time at Craven Cottage but he could be a popular choice at the Hawthorns given he represented the Baggies as a player between 1982 and 1984 before joining Coventry City.

Spells at Tottenham, Hamburg and Ajax hint at Jol’s former coaching standards and presented with the right challenge he could be reinvigorated as a manager. The Dutchman unarguably took Tottenham forward as a club before his ruthless dismissal during a Europa League game against Getafe in October 2007.

Paul Clement (7/1)

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A former PE teacher with no professional experience as a player wouldn’t be a natural choice to make a Premier League managerial shortlist but Clement enjoys a growing reputation in the game thanks to the success his has enjoyed working alongside Carlo Ancelotti. Once Chelsea’s academy coach, the 41-year-old Clement followed former Blues boss Ancelotti to Paris Saint-Germain to work as his assistant in 2012 and last summer made the transition again when Ancelotti was appointed Real Madrid boss. Clement now operates as joint assistant with one Zinedine Zidane.

Clement, who professes a belief in “open, attractive football”, recently told the Guardian: "There were a couple of opportunities [in the summer], including one abroad and one in the Championship. But I was really excited about coming here. It's an ambition [to be head coach] but I'll stay here as long as I can. It's a great experience to work at this level: it's the pinnacle."

Ralf Rangnick (8/1)

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Former Schalke coach Rangnick was at one stage the favourite to take the West Brom job when Hodgson was poached by England in the summer of 2012. However, the German turned down the chance to manage the Baggies after being interviewed twice and Clarke was appointed instead.

Still, chairman Jeremy Peace will not have forgotten the intelligent Rangnick, who rose from being a humble schoolteacher to manage some of the Bundesliga’s biggest clubs. He has led Stuttgart and Hannover and in 2011 took Schalke to the semi-finals of the Champions league before resigning and citing exhaustion.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (12/1)

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Now a regular presence when Premier League managerial shortlists are debated, Solskjaer has a good reputation in coaching having led his first club, Molde, to back-to-back Norwegian titles in his first job in management. Molde only finished sixth in the table in 2013 but Solskjaer’s side won the domestic cup to more than compensate.

Of course, Solskjaer is more intimately associated in this country with Manchester United, having become one of the iconic players of the Sir Alex Ferguson era thanks to his unwavering loyalty to the club and knack for popping up with a crucial goal. In total he scored 126 goals in 366 games for United before retiring in 2008.

Other candidates: Mike Phelan (20/1), Keith Downing (20/1), Nigel Pearson (20/1), Alan Curbishley (25/1), Tony Mowbray (25/1).

Who do you think should be West Brom’s next boss? Have your say below!

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