As news broke on Tuesday night that Slaven Bilic was going to be sacked by West Bromwich Albion, many reacted to the news with shock.
The Baggies had just put in arguably the best performance of their season so far, holding Manchester City to a well earned draw at the Etihad Stadium.
That couldn’t save him though, as his future was confirmed as being away from the Hawthorns on Tuesday morning. Later that evening it was officially announced that he would be replaced by Sam Allardyce, who signed an 18-month contract at the club.
While the decision shocked many, looking deeper into it it’s hard to complain too much.
West Brom fans don’t seem particularly annoyed by the decision although most are unhappy about how the news came out, deeming it unprofessional and nasty. But results wise, it’s probably the right call.
Bilic was tasked with bringing West Brom up inside two seasons and he did it in one But since February 25th, the Baggies have won just four league games across the Championship and Premier League and only gained promotion because Brentford bottled it on the final day.
The decision to part ways with Bilic was made prior to the game with Manchester City, with defeats to Fulham, Crystal Palace and Southampton playing a far bigger role.
While performances against the ‘big six’ opposition were encouraging, the results were ultimately not what West Brom want to see.
Thus, they turned to the man everyone turns to when they’re facing a relegation battle – Big Sam.
Allardyce has been a Premier League manager since getting Bolton promoted to the division in 2001, with WBA becoming the eighth club he’s managed in the top flight. During his entire career he has never been relegated, and that includes the four occasions on which he took over clubs in the middle of a season.
People may not like his style of football but it is certainly effective, especially at the bottom of the division.
He organises the defence to make them incredibly hard to beat, gets runners in midfield who aren’t afraid to do a job and lets the attackers express themselves – so long as they are willing defensively too.
At a time in the world where nothing is certain right now, they want to put themselves in the best possible position of securing top-flight football for an extra year. Should Allardyce be successful, which he’s never failed to be, at keeping them up and then be able to stabilise them further, he will likely get another job a bit more prestigious.
At that point, West Brom can go back to their project of trying to play more attractive football and trying to put in a more attacking philosophy.
It’s not pretty or even particularly ambitious, but it works. That is what West Brom care about.