Things are never simple when it comes to West Bromwich Albion. The fact their entire season boiled down to penalties sums that up.
Just five kicks from 12 yards determined whether they’d have the chance to gain promotion. But, in typical Albion fashion, they fell just short.
This was a chance for redemption after relegation last term. But that was not what they found. Instead, they were left to ponder a host of what-ifs.
What if the club hadn’t sacked Darren Moore? What if Dwight Gayle hadn’t been sent off last weekend? Unfortunately, they can’t go back in time, but it would have been fascinating to see what would have unfolded had those two events not happened.
However, the Baggies now need to prepare for next season and if they are to bounce back to the Premier League, something has to change.
First on the agenda needs to be finding a permanent manager and whoever comes in mustn’t be a safe option either.
For all too long West Brom have turned to managers who either save the club money or lack of ambition. So by appointing Graham Potter or Patrick Vieira who were the subject of reports linking them to the Hawthorns in The Sun on Sunday (May 5, page 59) and The Telegraph, the club would be heading in the right direction.
Shan has done little wrong, but he’s an academy manager with little experience. Potter and Vieira, on the other hand, are progressive coaches with visions for the future. You only need to look at their spells at Ostersunds and Nice to understand that.
In short, Mark Jenkins needs to buck up his ideas this summer. He needs to find a manager capable of taking West Brom forward, not one who’ll continue to hold them back. Although they’ll want to achieve promotion, they need to think long term too.
Things also need to change among the playing staff as well. It’s clear the team isn’t good enough and Albion’s lack of depth compared to Villa’s in the play-offs displayed that.
One player in the squad they simply cannot afford to lose though is Dwight Gayle. He’s a rare exception in the long list of players who may leave the Midlands. The forward scored 24 Championship goals on loan from Newcastle and with another season in the Championship on the cards, he can lead the charge once more.
Elsewhere, things need to be freshened up.
That means getting rid of old heads in Chris Brunt and Jake Livermore and building for the future by giving the likes of Sam Field and Morgan Rogers more game time.
The future shouldn’t include Rekeem Harper, however, whose contract is coming to an end in June. Given his performances at the back end of the season, that will come as a blessing.
Was Darren Moore’s sacking unfair? The Pl>ymaker FC squad name which Championship bosses should have gone instead in the video below…
It’s extremely likely that a number of the Baggies’ best players could now leave, according to The Telegraph. Ahmed Hegazi and Kieran Gibbs have been playing at levels above the Championship, and as a result, there will need to be a strong recruitment drive to replace them should they depart.
The work Albion did in the January window was poor and it arguably cost them promotion. With that in mind, they need to significantly improve their dealings.
West Brom will probably be one of the favourites again when the new campaign rolls around but without change, they could be left to wonder what if once again.