Last night news broke that Steve Clarke had been ‘relieved of his duties’ at West Brom and placed on immediate ‘gardening leave’ – sacked! West Brom sit in 16th place and are just 2 points above the relegation zone after losing their last 4 games, but that’s not the full story. This is also the side that defeated Manchester United and finished 8th last season. Has Steve Clarke paid the price for overachieving?
For years West Brom were the perennial yoyo side, constantly sweeping all before them in the championship and then failing to cope with the demands of the Premier League. Apart from the epic survival of 2005 the side had never spent two consecutive seasons in the premier league. After Di Matteo’s exit at the end of the 2011/12 season West Brom turned to former Chelsea assistant Steve Clarke – a man highly praised my José Mourinho. Clarke brought immediate success to the Hawthorns, taking them on a long unbeaten run and guiding them into a top 6 position. Although their formed slipped after Christmas the baggies still finished in 8th place – their highest finish in over 30 years.
Coming into this season West Brom have started steadily enough without rediscovering their form from last season – but nobody saw this sacking coming. As far as I can see, Steve Clarke has paid the price for overachieving – he took the club from constant relegation candidates into a solid mid table side. The favourites emerging for the job are Martin Jol and more surprisingly former manager Di Matteo. I think the only way that West Brom can avoid falling into a relegation fight is to hire Di Matteo. He is a fans favourite and he is the only manager who would make the fans forget their anger over the sacking of Clarke.
This new trend for sacking overachieving managers also happened at Crystal Palace earlier this year. Nobody expected Palace to seriously challenge for promotion last season and it was only when Holloway took over that they went on a hot streak and charged into the play-offs. Again, when this season started it was expected that Palace would struggle with the big boys – and they did. So why did Palace punish Holloway for overachieving?
Admittedly Tony Pullis has had a galvanising affect at Selhurt Park – although this happens at nearly every club. So… who’s next to go in the Premier League? Well, if its overachiever’s who need to be wary, Mauricio Pochettino better be looking over his shoulder!