As another day comes and goes, West Bromwich Albion’s search for a new manager rumbles on, with the Baggies being linked to yet another new name who could potentially take up Sam Allardyce’s mantle at The Hawthorns.
In a hunt that has seen Guochuan Lai rejected more times than a blackout Take Me Out contestant – with Roy Hodgson, Frank Lampard, Michael Appleton, David Wagner and Tony Puils all reportedly unmoved by West Brom’s admiring glances – the Baggies owner appears to quickly be running out of options to find the club’s perfect managerial match – or is he?
TEAMtalk have reported recently that the Chinese businessman has turned his attention closer to home – to the Chinese Super League, to be exact – with the Henan Jianye FC manager, Javier Pereira, now thought to be a front runner for the job in West Bromwich.
While an explanation may not be required as to why appointing a manager who finished bottom of the Chinese Super League Group A last season could be considered something of a risky move by Lai, it is worth outlining anyway.
Having left his role as Fulham’s assistant head of football operations in order to take over at Henan Jianye in September of 2020, the 55-year-old oversaw 14 regular league games at the Chinese club last term, winning one, drawing three and losing 10 of his fixtures in charge, with his side scoring 14 goals while conceding a whopping 33.
These results saw the Spanish manager’s side finish five points behind Dalian Pro at the foot of the Group A table, however, due to the play-off relegation system they have in the Chinese Super League, Henan Jianye rather remarkably avoided dropping out of the top flight, beating Tianjin Jinmen Tiger – a side who finished bottom of Group B on just three points – over three legs to earn a stay of execution.
Indeed, things do not appear to have picked up for Pereira’s side this season either, with Henan Jianye once again being rock-bottom of their division after four games played.
As such, with the above being the 55-year-old’s only experience in football management, we would argue that his record doesn’t particularly scream of a coach who could take the Baggies back to the Premier League at the first attempt – something that will undoubtedly be the expectation of Lai next season.
So, if the club’s owner really does want to avoid the wrath of the West Brom fanbase – something that we are finding extremely questionable at present – it would be highly advisable for Lai to turn his focus back towards a more suitable candidate for the job, or else West Brom could find themselves in a very similar situation to when they were under the leadership of Pepe Mel back in 2014.