It hasn’t been a happy return to the Premier League for West Bromwich Albion following their promotion from the Championship in the 2019-20 season.
The Baggies finished as runners-up in the second tier behind Leeds United, and there was hope amongst Albion fans that they were in a much stronger position than they were when they were relegated.
However, fears that the club may not have been prepared for the top-flight were ringing on the opening day of the season with a defeat at home against Leicester City.
Since then, the Baggies have been unable to stop the flow of goals against them and have continued to drop in the Premier League table. Now they will definitely have on their hands an intense battle to avoid relegation and will be as exciting to watch as a MMA fight in BetAmerica’s odds.
West Brom’s board will now be at a significant crossroads at this early point of the season, as they will be forced to decide whether they should stick or twist regarding the future of their manager Slaven Bilic.
There has been increased pressure on the board to make a decision following their loss to Fulham in their last fixture, and that means that a decision could be made during the international break regarding whether the former West Ham manager will still be in charge when the Baggies take on Manchester United in a couple of weeks time.
Nonetheless, should they decide to give Bilic his marching orders, which managers should the Baggies be targeting to help maintain their Premier League status?
The one man that will likely be at the top of the wishlist amongst Baggies fans will be former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe.
Howe was the longest-serving manager in the Premier League before his departure from the Cherries after their relegation to the Championship, and his sides have always had a clear intensity on a possession-based game.
That style of play would certainly be the style that would most appeal to the players already at the Hawthorns, with Grady Diangana, Matheus Pereira and Romaine Sawyers all being very good players in their own right. Howe helped the Cherries overachieve throughout his stay with the club, as he took Bournemouth to the Premier League in three years.
He also ensured that they were able to fight in the Premier League for five seasons before their relegation last season. However, his appointment would come with questions, as all his success as a manager came with the Cherries, as he failed during his only season away from the club with Burnley back in the 2011-12 season.
Lee Bowyer has been another name rumoured to be in the running to replace Bilic. The former Leeds United and Newcastle United midfielder has only been in management for two years, as he was appointed as Charlton Athletic manager in 2018.
In his first season with the club, he was able to get them promoted to the Championship, which surpassed all expectations that the board had. After an initial dispute with Charlton’s controversial owner, he agreed to sign a new deal with the club that lasted throughout the 2019-20 season.
Charlton were competitive during that season in the second tier despite many predicting that they would finish rock-bottom. The club were eventually relegated on the final day of the season, but it did little to damage the reputation that Bowyer had built over the two seasons he was in charge.
There would understandably be a lawyer of risk with appointing an inexperienced manager such as Bowyer.
But, he has illustrated throughout his managerial career to this point that he can get the best out of his players. That would be one of the crucial aspects that will be considered when it comes to replacing Bilic, as he has failed to get the best out of this West Brom squad since football resumed after lockdown.