West Brom, usually a shining example of stability and sensible management at board level, have plunged their season into chaos by sacking their manager Roberto Di Matteo.
True, the club have been on a shocking run of 13 defeats in 18 games but as Di Matteo pointed out via the LMA on Sunday, they haven’t been in the bottom three since the opening week of the season.
He was hailed as one of the country’s top young bosses when he led them to promotion last season and then guided them to a positive set of early results, including a draw at Old Trafford and a win at the Emirates.
Plus this is a side who have been yo—yoing between the top two divisions since they were promoted in 2002, only ever staying up once on a dramatic last-day in 2005.
They didn’t spend millions in the summer so it should be expected that they would be down near the foot of the table.
But despite three relegations in six years they have been largely loyal to the manager, with Gary Megson’s departure in late 2004 the only time until now they have switched bosses in the middle of a Premier League season. They realised that sacking managers left, right and centre can trigger a few early results but the constant upheaval usually has a negative affect in the long-term.
With relegation six-pointers against West Ham and Wolves to come Di Matteo deserved the chance to try and steer the Baggies on an upward curve again.
But perhaps in keeping with the twitchy, trigger-happy nature of club bosses this season Di Matteo has been unceremoniously booted out before he could even begin to think about those games.
There are rumours flying around that other issues surrounded his exit and that maybe relations with players and/or other members had broken down. If this is the case then the timing is even more baffling, coming as it is just a week after the January transfer window shut – why not bring someone in a month earlier when they can at least try and bring some of their own players in?
But whatever the reason the decision has been made and the Baggies board will hope the ‘new manager’ effect will inspire the side to a few quick victories to guide their side away from trouble. A short-term view from a usually long-term thinking board.