After defeat to Arsenal last Sunday, West Brom’s Premier League fate has finally been decided. Following their demotion to the EFL Championship, manager Sam Allardyce’s infamous record of never having taking a team down has finally been broken.
The one-time England manager now faces the task of preparing the Baggies for life after relegation but the question is whether Allardyce will still be at the Hawthorns helm to steer their attempt to immediately return.
Although the 66-year-old is contracted to West Brom until the end of next season, there is a break clause within the paperwork and the next couple of months will be the optimum time for it to be activated.
As early as February, Sam Allardyce was sounding out this very clause, as if to prepare for the groundwork for a relegation that may follow. If the former Bolton boss were to call time on his current managerial tenure, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
By now we all know the remit when it comes to Big Sam. He attempts to put out footballing fires, which have a habit of burning much brighter within the Premier League. Typically an ailing club chairman send out a distress signal around Christmas time and at that point, Sam Allardyce or one of his cohorts come to the rescue in the second half of the season.
However, there is a sense that the role of firefighter and the short-termism that comes with managerial change could become a thing of the past, if not at least less prevalent. If so, it is perhaps minimising the need for more experienced men at the helm.
Therefore, the opportunities that may have come around in the past, may not appear next season and if the current West Brom manager is looking to assess his options, a return to the Premier League may not be on the horizon again.
If the man who brought the likes of Fernando Hierro, Ivan Campo, and Jay-Jay Okocha to English football is to mix it once again with the big boys, and you would think he still has the appetite to do so, the best route may be via earning eventual promotion with his current employers.
When the seeds were being planted for a potential departure at the end of the season, the word budget was most pertinent and, if there is to be a sticking point in terms of continued employment, finance will play an important part in any decision. If a transfer war chest can be discovered, that would likely be enough to entice Sam Allardyce to stay on board.
Although there will be a parachute payment to ease West Brom’s flight into the Championship, any promotion bid may also have to be financed by player sales. This could be something of a rather large sticking point as, when you look at the current breakdown of West Brom’s squad and the talents within it, there is not much in way of crown jewels to trade elsewhere.
A look at the squad would suggest it is already Championship calibre and with only a couple of prize assets, such as Okay Yokuslu and Matheus Pereira, likely to generate attention from potential Premier League suitors, the ability to regenerate the club through transfer activity may be difficult.
However, that is not to say it is impossible either and with Sam Johnstone appearing on the radar of several soon to be former Premier League counterparts, do not be surprised if £20m is enough to return him to the top tier.
While a similar fee could be enough to tempt Matheus Pereira elsewhere and with the Brazilian being arguably West Brom’s player of the season, Sam Allardyce would be loathed to lose him during the upcoming transfer window.
At the same time, the Brazilian finds himself in the position where he can hold his own in the top flight but will be far too good for the level below and although that might be the case, it may mean next season is a rather successful one.
Because if the 25-year-old can be tempted to stay, he could mimic the efforts of Emiliano Buendia at Norwich this season and in doing so, light the Championship ablaze. It would be a fire which could lead West Brom to a Premier League return at their latest first time of asking.
With opportunities likely to lessen at the highest level, it may also be time for Sam Allardyce to consider his role within English football and if Pereira does hang around in the second tier, his manager may follow suit.
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