West Brom comment: Fans right to be fearful as search for a new manager spirals out of control

Albion supporters have every right to be fearful for the club’s future.

Luke Dowling Technical Director of West Bromwich Albion (AMA)
Luke Dowling Technical Director of West Bromwich Albion (AMA)

An absent owner. No manager. No structure. A squad in desperate need of additions.

And now no sporting and technical director following the news Luke Dowling has left the club by mutual consent.

The situation at The Hawthorns is bleak. The club is, very simply, in disarray.

And yet with basic management it wouldn’t be this way.

Dowling’s decision to depart was shocking but not surprising.

It is understood the man who was supposed to lead the search for the next head coach firmly believed Chris Wilder was the right manager to take the club forward.

Supported by the rest of the English-based board, Dowling approached the former Sheffield United chief, who was believed to be open to the role.

But that move was then vetoed by Albion’s absent owner Guochuan Lai.

The reason – despite Wilder having an outstanding CV – was that Lai didn’t like the way he publicly clashed with Blades owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during his time at Bramall Lane.

Having been overruled by an absent owner who hasn’t attended a game for more than two years, Dowling’s position became very difficult.

When Lai’s decision to overrule him became public knowledge, you could argue Dowling’s position was untenable.

Nevertheless, through what must have been gritted teeth, he continued the interview process – with David Wagner impressing over Alex Neil.

But just as it looked like the German would be appointed, he decided to join BSC Young Boys in Switzerland instead.

The Express & Star understands that decision effectively put Albion’s manager search back to square one.

And Dowling didn’t fancy any of the new names coming forward.

He did not feel he could sit next to the new boss at his unveiling and say the appointment was in the best interests of the club.

Lai, meanwhile, was not impressed at how he’d gone about his job.

So now – by mutual consent – Dowling is gone.

Anyone who is in the position of sporting and technical director, is going to get criticism.

Very simply, it comes with the role.

And there are fans who think Dowling hasn’t done a good job simply because he wasted a lot of money on striker Kenneth Zohore.

But those fans seem to be completely ignoring he was the man who put together the squad that won promotion from the Championship.

He is the man responsible for bringing in the likes of Darnell Furlong, Romaine Sawyers and Semi Ajayi.

He is the man who had long been chasing Conor Gallagher’s signature.

He is the man who managed to swap Oliver Burke for Callum Robinson.

And he is the man who managed to pull off structured deals for Grady Diangana and Karlan Grant.

Those two players may not have caught fire last season, but the potential is there and they should be play key roles once the new campaign gets under way.

Speaking last season, Sam Allardyce went on record many times to say he felt – with the money available – Albion couldn’t have done better business in the January transfer window. That was because of Dowling. He knows football. He knows the market.

And now there isn’t anybody on Albion’s board who has any football experience.

That is not a good thing.

Last week, the Express & Star called for Lai to communicate with fans to explain his vision for a club that looks rudderless.

That call is again being made.

Over the past month, Allardyce has decided he doesn’t want to be Albion boss.

Wagner has decided the same. And so has Michael Appleton, according to reports.

Albion are an illustrious club recently relegated from the Premier League. They have parachute payments and assets to sell in Matheus Pereira and Sam Johnstone. The head coach role should be a fantastic job.

Any manager who wants to reach the Premier League should be hammering down the door for the role.

But they aren’t. They are walking away. And fans deserve to know why.

When Dowling joined Albion, he replaced Giuliano Terraneo – an obscure appointment who was discarded after two months. If the club goes down a similar route once again, the consequences could be disastrous.

Fans that are happy to see Dowling leave need to be careful what they wish for. In seven weeks time the new season gets under way. Albion’s squad needs additions. But who is going to make those signings?

The players are due to report back for training in just a few weeks. Who is going to be putting on those sessions with no manager and no technical director?

The people Albion appoint will ultimately determine how successful they are next season.

But the club is spiralling downwards.

And if they don’t get the appointments right, they could spiral out of control.

This is not said lightly.

But as it stands, you can’t help but be fearful for the future.

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