Steve Bruce has been sacked as West Brom head coach following a run of just one win in their opening 13 Championship games this season.
The 61-year-old left following the Baggies’ goalless home draw with Luton Town on Saturday, which kept them in the relegation zone in 22nd – their lowest league position in more than 20 years.
The backroom staff of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and Alex Bruce have also left West Brom, with under-21 coach Richard Beale named interim boss.
But though many of the Hawthorns faithful will no doubt be happy to see the back of Bruce, there is a genuine concern that the club’s problems go much further than just the manager.
“But he’s been protected all along by his mate and club CEO, Ron Gourlay, which is why he came in.
“He cited his thousand games in management at the weeknd, which nobody cares about at the end of the day – it’s how you’re performing for West Bromwich Albion and it wasn’t good enough.
“He’s had some bad luck with injuries and some of the things that have gone on in games, but the bottom line is there are no excuses about where we are in the league – it’s simply not good enough.”
Late in the game against Luton, disgruntled Baggies fans made their thoughts on Bruce’s position at the club known, with loud chants of ‘Bruce out’ and ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ heard around The Hawthorns.
❌ “It should not have taken this long.”
👥 “He’s been protected by his mate Ron Gourlay.”
👎 “It wasn’t good enough.”
— FansBet (@FansBet) October 10, 2022
Bruce was appointed as Baggies manager back in February as part of a change in structure at The Hawthorns.
That saw the departure of head coach Val Ismael, the appointment of Ron Gourlay as chief executive and club owner Guochuan Lai, the controlling shareholder, becoming Albion chairman.
In his 24 years in management, Bruce has won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League four times – twice with both Birmingham City and Hull City.
But, having enjoyed four months off following the miserable end to his time at Newcastle – a job he said at the time would probably be his last – he has failed to rejuvenate Albion.
During his tenure, the Baggies have won just eight of his 32 games in charge and won 33 points from a possible 90 in the league.
At the time of his arrival, West Brom sat 7th in the Championship. Less than eight months on, the club is now 22nd.
“The fans turned at the weekend after the substitution of Brandon Thomas-Asante and Grady Diangana and Bruce got very tetchy with his post-match comments,” explains Chris.
“Now the concern is that we are still an appallingly run club that our owner is not interested and we have now sacked managers in five of the six seasons that Lai Guochuan has owned the club.
“Things rarely get any better for us when we sack the manager, largely because we’re so bad at hiring the next one.
“So while I’m glad to see the back of Steve Bruce, I don’t think this is some kind of silver bullet where everything is suddenly going to get better.
“I don’t trust the people hiring and I don’t trust them to get the next guy right – I really hope they do – but if they don’t we could genuinely find ourselves in League One.
“We shouldn’t be anywhere near that with this squad, we should be in and around the play-offs at the very minimum.”
Finishing 10th last campaign despite holding one of the highest budgets in the division, Bruce had already received plenty of criticism from the supporters but that has only grown after another poor start to the season.
Despite signing proven Championship quality in Jed Wallace and John Swift, as well as the later free transfer signings of former Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic and the returning fan favourite Okay Yokuslu, the Baggies have struggled to pick up form.
And, with the league remaining tight in the early stages, this serves as a good moment to make a change.
The club say the process to search for a successor is now underway and an appointment will be confirmed in due course with former Burnley boss Sean Dyche one of the early favourites for the vacancy.
Other names in the frame include Chris Wilder, who was recently sacked by Middlesbrough, and Steve Bruce’s former Manchester United teammate Roy Keane.
But Chris is concerned that whoever comes in could find the task of steering Albion away from the relegation zone a daunting one with what they have to work with.
“The reality is, we’re fighting relegation and have only won one game all season, so we wait and see who is going to come in,” he notes.
“It’s going to have to be a manager who can do it all on his own as there’s no football structure to support him and no backroom staff.
“It’s a big, big hire for Albion because if you get this right then the squad is there and maybe we actually have a tilt at this division, because it’s still pretty tight.
“But get it wrong and it’s League One football next year.”
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