Four months into the football season, and West Brom last night became the fourth club in the Premier League to enforce a managerial change with the sacking of Steve Clarke.
A run of four successive defeats and six games without a win has resulted in a slide down the table that sees West Brom currently in 16th position.
Such is the ruthless nature of many Premier League owners that there shouldn’t be too many surprises that the West Brom board made the decision they did.
But in the statement issued following the sacking, there was reference to the fact that the club “have not had the rub of the green” in some of their recent fixtures. In other words, they’ve been unlucky. Quite how any manager is expected to work in an environment in which he has to take responsibility for controversial decisions taken by match officials that directly affect the outcome of games is a mystery.
West Brom have won at Old Trafford in the league this season, for the first time in decades. They were seconds away from doing the same at Stamford Bridge – denied only by a highly disputed last minute injury time penalty.
In the run of four defeats, they’ve lost – narrowly – to Manchester City, and also away to in-form Newcastle. The results may have been disappointing, but performances over the season have had enough positives to justify sticking with Clarke. Surely some perspective is needed.
Perhaps West Brom have been influenced by the resurgence of Crystal Palace following the appointment of Tony Pulis, or the recent improvement in Fulham’s performances under new man Rene Meulensteen.
But maybe they should look at the example of Dave Whelan at Wigan, who stuck with Roberto Martinez regarless of how dire the situation looked at this stage of the season.
Martinez did wonders with Wigan and kept the team in the Premier League against all the odds on a number of occasions. There was trust in the manager by the chairman, and after 38 games of each season, Martinez had generally achieved something with his team that few others would have been capable of. Even more impressive was that it was done without compromising any of his footballing principles.
Six games without a win is of course enough to cause any chairman to get more than a little nervous. There’s no guarantee that a new man will bring an improvement to the results though, and for every Premier League managerial change which has worked out for the better, there have been many which simply haven’t made much of a difference at all.
West Brom aren’t in the relegation zone, and have generally looked a much stronger side than many of the other clubs in the bottom half. Perhaps giving Steve Clarke and his staff a little longer to see things turned around wouldn’t have unreasonable.
But in a world of Premier League management in which Brendan Rodgers is now the 4th longest serving manager at his current club, maybe that’s just a little too much to ask for the modern chairman.