As Aston Villa players celebrated triumphantly on the Wembley pitch on Monday, those associated with West Brom could only wonder what may have been.
Both teams had their ups and downs this season and following heartbreak last term only one of them could make up for it in 2018/19.
Villa, of course, tasted defeat in the play-off final last term, but Albion were relegated from the Premier League. It’s a division that feels miles away from them at the moment.
This summer will be a huge rebuilding job for the Baggies. A number of players have departed and countless more look as though they’ll leave. Express & Star hinted that first team defenders Ahmed Hegazi, Craig Dawson and Kieran Gibbs among others could be those who are first through the exit door.
However, there are more pressing concerns before any of that happens. To start with, they need a new manager.
It would be typical West Brom if they went into the new season with another member of their backroom staff in charge. This time, they must take a risk and in doing so, follow the example set by their Midlands rivals who defeated them in the play-off semi-final.
In short, Albion must find someone like Dean Smith. That’s easier said than done but he has a number of qualities Luke Dowling must be searching for when he holds talks with managers the club are interested in.
This week, he will meet with Wolfsburg’s Bruno Labaddia, a man who, like the Villa boss, led his side out of trouble to a more than respectable league finish.
Would he be the man to rebuild Albion? Only time will tell, but he certainly has the qualities to do so. The question, though, is whether the German would have the funds.
The Baggies face a monumental task to patch up their squad over the window and at the same time, they also need to reduce their wage bill which currently stands at £38m.
Consequently, they need a boss who can work on a tight budget. Smith is famed for doing this, first at Brentford and now with the Villans. After the failings under Steve Bruce which almost rinsed the club of all their financial resources, they’ve undertaken a new model. It’s one which West Brom must now follow.
If they can find a manager capable of working on the slim budget that’s likely to be given, then they can strike gold. In some regards, Albion do need to play safe, but they must balance this with the right amount of risk.
The future of the football club is on the line here. If Mark Jenkins and Dowling get things wrong, a third season in the Championship beckons.