It was a thankless task, in truth, but that’s not to say Alan Pardew didn’t make a complete horror show of his time in the hotseat at West Bromwich Albion.
The silver fox had a lot to put up with: a chairman and a chief executive – essentially the men who appointed him – being sacked, the infamous ‘taxi-gate’ in Barcelona when Gareth Barry and co decided to commandeer a lift home for themselves after a skin-full of Spanish refreshments, and, most pertinently, having to try and cajole performances out of a squad of players routinely diminished by years of Tony Pulis squandering the club’s kitty.
It was never going to be easy for Pardew, but one win in eighteen – and the lowest points tally earned in the top four divisions since November – is an undoubted sackable offence these days.
The Baggies are now ten points adrift of safety with just six games to go, and whoever takes over the reins at the club will be doing so in the Championship, that’s almost a given.
The other thing for punters eyeing the Next WBA Manager betting market to consider is that the club is now owned by a Chinese consortium, and as we’ve seen in similar scenarios at Cardiff and Wolves they very rarely opt for the obvious candidate.
So who are the runners and riders being tipped to take on the thankless task at The Hawthorns?
Michael Appleton (3/1)
Appleton was much loved at West Brom as a player, and he surely would have gone on to become a club legend had a knee injury not brought a premature end to his career.
And so his appointment would be a smart fit to get disgruntled supporters back on side, and for the man himself a move into management at a club which he can imprint his own identity on will surely appeal.
These Baggies players need a metaphorical (and possibly literal) kick up the backside, and who would argue with Appleton, the former midfield enforcer who is built like a brick outhouse?
He may have taken the assistant manager’s job at Leicester in order to gain Premier League experience, but it may well be in the Championship with West Brom where he puts the lessons learned from Claudio Ranieri and Claude Puel into practice.
Chris Wilder (4/1)
Given his outstanding managerial career to date, Chris Wilder is an obvious name being linked with the vacant post at the Hawthorns.
Having guided Oxford and Northampton to promotion, Wilder took over the reins at his beloved Sheffield United, and that golden touch has continued unabated.
The Blades won League One under Wilder’s guidance, and they’re now pressing very hard for a play-off place in the Championship.
Wilder undoubtedly has the touch of a promotion specialist – that will undoubtedly appeal to West Brom, but it is doubtful that he will leave the club he loves the most for another at the same level.
Nigel Pearson (8/1)
The team of Pearson as manager and Craig Shakespeare as his assistant would be appealing to many at West Brom given both have a past association with the club, but you do wonder if Pearson has burnt his bridges in English football.
After being sacked by Leicester following a few off-the-pitch issues, he moved to Derby where he was again given the bullet; this time for an alleged confrontation with chairman Mel Morris, which is said to have gotten physical.
Pearson is now manager of Belgian second tier side Leuven as he looks to rebuild his career. You suspect it will be a while before he returns to management in England.
Michael O’Neill (12/1)
At this moment in their history, will West Brom want to take a risk on a manager with very little experience in club management?
It would be an extraordinary risk, and why we don’t want to diminish the achievements of O’Neill as Northern Ireland boss there are surely better options out there for the Baggies at this moment in time.
Mick McCarthy (12/1)
As short as 2/1 with some bookmakers, we have to wonder if Mick McCarthy’s connection to West Brom’s bitter rival, Wolverhampton Wanderers, prevents him from being a serious candidate for this role.
It is possible, although it would be a shame for the Baggies if they were to miss out on a manager with outstanding experience at Championship level.
He took Wolves to the Premier League and kept them up too, and in his subsequent job at Ipswich he has built a solid side on one of the smallest budgets in the division.
McCarthy has confirmed he will leave the Tractor Boys at the end of the campaign, which would mean no compensation would need to be paid. But will the West Brom hierarchy take the risk of employing a former Wolves favourite?
Derek McInnes (14/1)
McInnes is another former terrace favourite at the Hawthorns having captained the team to promotion during the 2001/02 campaign.
His management career has, by and large, been a success, too. He achieved a mission impossible in keeping Bristol City in the Championship in 2011/12, and prior to Rangers’ renaissance established Aberdeen as Scotland’s number two side behind Celtic.
Respected within the game, McInnes has turned down approaches from Sunderland and Rangers for his services in the past few months – would the call of West Brom prove too good a chance to miss?