West Brom manager search: Analysis of the runners and riders - Steve Bruce, Slaven Bilic, Wayne Rooney

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West Brom are on the search for their eighth manager in five years

The manager-merry-go-round is underway once again at the Hawthorns following this dismissal of Valerien Ismael after just seven months in charge.

It’s a merry-go-round which in truth, in recent times at least, never really seems to end.

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Tony Pulis is among the former mentors to Darren Moore to have contacted him since his switch to Sheffield Wednesday.Tony Pulis is among the former mentors to Darren Moore to have contacted him since his switch to Sheffield Wednesday.
Tony Pulis is among the former mentors to Darren Moore to have contacted him since his switch to Sheffield Wednesday.

Whoever is next up in the Black Country will be number eight. The eighth manager* in five years.

It would be extremely rare for that amount of turnover to result in success anywhere, in any industry, let alone one that craves success as much as football clubs do.

Tony Pulis was the last man to survive more than 100 games as Baggies boss (121) between the years of 2015-2017 and before that it was the now Blackburn manager Town Mowbray (140) way back in 2006-2009.

Whilst this season’s goal is primarily to get back into the Premier League - nothing more, nothing less - you have to feel the next appointment has to have a well thought out long-term approach to it.

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Not just a man that can lead them to the promised land but a man that can solidify the club there. Short term is all well and good but then it puts you right back at square one.

It’s a big decision and for Baggies fans in particular - it has to be the right one.

Here’s a look at the main runners and riders for the hotseat.

*In charge as caretaker or otherwise for more than 10 games

Steve Bruce

The former Newcastle United, Hull City, Aston Villa, Birmingham City (you get the point) manager is firm favourite to accept the role as new Head Coach at the Hawthorns.

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Bruce’s appointment seems like it would file itself very much under the ‘short-term solution’ box and that as well as a barrel of other things could cause a split in the fanbase.

As a manager himself, I don’t think it’s a bad appointment.

Bruce has entered much worse situations and got positive results and his record in getting teams out of the Championship is pretty exemplary.

He may well have managed every club and their dog and was of course widely disliked by fans of the Magpies but that shouldn’t stain what is an otherwise pretty fine managerial record.

Bruce boasts a win record of +35% at four of his previous sides and a +40% one at a further four. For the teams he has managed throughout his career that is pretty good going.

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The former Manchester United player won promotion from the Championship with both Birmingham City and Hull City and rejuvenated a broken and battered Aston Villa side just a few years ago.

If rejuvenating broken and battered things is on his resume, there’s no wonder he’s favourite for the Albion role.

The biggest issue I have on this one is the divide it could cause, especially when the Baggies need nothing more right now than everyone singing from the same hymn sheet.

With that said, wins in football go a long way and if he starts getting them on the board - that divide will soon wear away.

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West Brom are considering appointing former Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce following Valerien Ismael's sacking. Bruce left the Magpies in October. (Sunderland Echo)West Brom are considering appointing former Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce following Valerien Ismael's sacking. Bruce left the Magpies in October. (Sunderland Echo)
West Brom are considering appointing former Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce following Valerien Ismael's sacking. Bruce left the Magpies in October. (Sunderland Echo)

Slaven Bilic

They say never go back to an ex and that’s probably where this one should stay.

Bilic guided Albion back to the Premier League in 2020 but after a miserable start to the campaign was replaced by Sam Allardyce.

Whilst there will always be love for the Croatian for what he achieved with the club, the step up for him did seem to be one too far and Albion can’t have that yo-yo’ing all over again.

Add to that the fact he’s since gone on to manage Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan and lost his job due to poor results and this may indicate that his coaching career is coming to an end.

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The positive would be the instant feel good factor I feel the appointment may bring but long-term I think this one needs crossing off.

Wayne Rooney

The former England captain is a longshot in the betting - currently down at 40/1 at the time of writing.

However, if there’s any of the more ‘unlikely’ options that do have a hint of possibility about them it’s this one.

There’s no denying the job that Rooney is currently doing at Derby County. The fact he’s even got that team to a point where they have a shot at survival after suffering an 18 point deduction is ludicrous and he’s done so playing good attacking football.

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No money, limited squad and has got some extremely talented youngsters firing.

With Albion he’d have the money, he’d have a pool of talented youngsters and he’d have a much better all round squad than he currently has with the Rams.

There is the slight issue that he just last month turned down an approach from his boyhood club Everton but since that approach more has developed such as Derby County selling young Luke Plange despite promising Rooney no sales would occur in January.

That will have added a little friction to the already difficult relationship he has at Pride Park.

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If there’s one person that the hierarchy at Albion could throw a four-year-contract at and I’d be confident in positive results, it would probably be Rooney.

There’s no denying it’s extremely unlikely but you’ve got to at least hope Guochuan Lai and co would have least tried to test the waters.

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Who would you like to see as the new Baggies boss? Let us know in the comments down below.

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