Comment: Will sacking Alan Pardew achieve anything?
As long as the snow holds off, today’s game could be the one that ends Alan Pardew’s short reign as Albion boss.
Pardew is on the brink just over three months after being appointed, and if this afternoon’s match with Watford goes ahead, and the Baggies fall to their sixth straight defeat, he will struggle to survive.
Although it sounds crass to admit it, normally there is a small sense of optimism that greets any managerial sacking, a hope that the grass will be greener with a new incumbent.
That is especially true for a team bottom of the table with one league win in 26, because the only way is up.
But this season has slowly but surely ripped out the hope from those who follow the Baggies, and now it seems like they are destined to go down. So it is worth asking what sacking Pardew will actually achieve?
Perhaps it would make more sense, both financially and in football terms, to keep hold of him until the end of the season and reassess in the summer, when his contract has a break clause anyway.
By then there will be more replacements available, more time to hunt for one, and clubs will be more willing to let Albion talk to their managers.
But that is admitting defeat with a quarter of the season to go, and even though the possibility of staying up is slim, while it remains, it should be explored to its maximum.
It is only seven points to safety after all, two wins and everything changes.
The Baggies don’t look like getting those results under Pardew, but unless they’ve got the right man lined up to replace him, sacking him is still a questionable decision.
As we have already found out this season, firing the bullet is the easy part, hiring the new man is where it counts.
Should we trust a board that has one footballing expert on it in the form of technical director Nick Hammond to find the right replacement when that footballing expert railroaded Pardew into the job in the first place?
There does come a point, however, when a head coach has to go, regardless of how the hunt for his successor is going.
Pardew’s decline in the past month has been fast and furious.
Five straight defeats, off-field controversies in Spain, and senior players questioning his tactics, it’s all unravelled at break-neck speed.
Lose to Watford and it almost becomes cruel – not to mention a tad irresponsible – to throw him to a Hawthorns crowd baying for blood in the Leicester game.
It doesn’t feel like we’re quite at that stage of toxicity yet, and it’s worth remembering the home fans only turned on him in injury time of the Huddersfield defeat after initially criticising the players.
How the die-hards braving the freeze in the away end at Vicarage Road will react to today’s performance will probably give us a good indication of whether he can survive this weekend or not.
But would it be fair on the inexperienced Darren Moore, who only recently became first team coach, to give him the grenade until the end of the season? Probably not.
The best bet would be to send for Gary Megson again, and get him to do the job on a temporary basis until the end of the season, when the board can reassess.
Not only would he fire a rocket up these players, but even if he took the sorry bunch down, it wouldn’t be able to sully his name with the fans. Unfortunately, his previous relationship with chief executive Mark Jenkins makes that eventuality unlikely.
Which means that Albion are left either searching for the right man, right now, or Pardew.
Hopefully he wins today, and delays this dilemma, but at the moment, there are no signs to suggest he will.