Worrying times at West Brom
Three games into a new season is a little early to be pressing the panic button, even for the ficklest of Premier League club owners, but recent history tells us that it won’t be too long before some of them start carrying on like Corporal Jones in Dads’ Army.
Already there has been some action in Coral’s ‘Next Manager To Lose His Job’ market with Paulo di Canio leapfrogging Alan Pardew into 2/1 favouritism after delivering just one point out of six and then castigating some of his players in public.
Di Canio’s marriage with Sunderland was always likely to be stormy and, along with everybody else, I can well imagine it ending in tears and divorce sooner rather than later.
Newcastle haven’t started the campaign much better, but Pardew (4/1) still has some credit in the bank after the Magpies did so well in 2011-2012 and the Geordie fans have owner Mike Ashley and Director of Football Joe Kinnear above the manager on their list of people to blame for their subsequent dip in fortunes.
But here I am, trying to be logical about it all when we all know that reason and fairness often go straight out of the window when the man with the money suddenly has enough of seeing his club struggling dangerously near the foot of the table after a string of poor results and reaches for the P45s.
Which is why, fair and reasonable or not, West Brom boss Steve Clarke has been backed with Coral into 8/1 to be the first Premiership manager to lose his job.
Clarke took the Baggies into a most creditable eighth place last season and was 33/1 to be first to go when the new campaign kicked off three weeks ago. But brows are now furrowed in the boardroom and on the terraces as West Brom prop up the table with just one point and no goals on the board.
And in all fairness, alarm bells were already ringing; West Brom have collected a total of just 17 points from 21 fixtures this calendar year.
Losing on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku, scorer of 17 of their 53 goals last season, has hardly lightened the mood at the Hawthorns and Clarke will be hoping that the classy veteran, Nicolas Anelka, and last-day signings, Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessignon, can, between them at least, deliver as productively up front.
Things can change very quickly, of course, especially at this time of the year when even a short decent run can move a team from the relegation zone into a healthy position in the top half of the table.
But with four of their next eight games being against Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea away and Arsenal at home, that would appear to be a tall order for the Baggies just now.
People in the game will tell you what a well-run club West Brom is and how well they have done with limited resources. But this is a big test for them alright and everyone at the Hawthorns is being asked to hold their nerve and be patient while Clarke steadies the boat. Don’t panic.
Written by Jon Freeman