Next West Brom Manager Odds: Six reasons why Sean Dyche should be appointed
After Steve Bruce was dismissed as manager after 32 games in charge, with his side in the Championship relegation zone 13 matches into this campaign, West Brom need a new manager.
The Albion require three key things from their next boss to meet their short, medium and long-term objectives.
The first one is that they have the pragmatism to work with existing personnel and get them away from trouble, the second being the ability to manage a club and not just coach a team, the third being to create a culture conducive to sustainable progress.
Sean Dyche meets all three requirements: here’s why...
1) Success rate
In almost every season of Sean Dyche’s 11-year managerial career, he’s been up against it to different extents from a budgetary perspective.
In one of them, he led Watford to their highest finish for four years in 11th-place, the same position he led Burnley to the following season after a controversial dismissal at Vicarage Road.
Dyche lost top goalscorer Charlie Austin that summer but found free market gems in Tom Heaton, Scott Arfield and David Jones, who were mainstays in the Clarets’ 2013-14 success: since which no team has ever won automatic promotion at that level so starkly against the odds.
Although Dyche’s side didn’t quite have the quality to stay in the Premier League at the first time of asking, they subsequently signed Andre Gray and Joey Barton: the former fired them up with 25 goals, while the latter was instrumental to them securing top spot.
Home form kept Dyche’s side up in the top flight at the second attempt, before an astonishing 7th-placed finish earnt them a European adventure, although they just missed out on the Europa League Group Stage to Olympiakos in the Play-Off round.
Taking 21 points off bottom five opposition played a huge part in keeping the East Lancashire club up that year, before another top half finish in 2019-20 thanks to 13 wins to nil.
Dyche kept Burnley up by 11 points the following season, too, so effectively it’s only been two seasons in 11 for the former centre-back that haven’t gone to plan.
In the first case, 2014-15, Burnley couldn’t have been expected to stay in the Premier League because of minimal spending.
Dyche’s consistency of achievement is incredibly impressive and makes him an attractive proposition.
Creating chances hasn’t been a huge problem for West Brom, although they have missed a clinical focal point at times, but organisation has.
With Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi struggling with injury, the Albion have shipped 18 goals in 13 league games, with just two clean sheets, although one of them did come in the last game – a draw with Luton.
Martin Kelly’s introduction to the side has coincided with some defensive improvements, with the former Crystal Palace stalwart bringing some much-needed leadership qualities and instilling belief in the rear-guard.
If the Albion can keep creating chances as they have been this season, be slightly more clinical, whilst having elements of the defensive structure Dyche can introduce, that could be a formula for them to climb the table.
74 points is the projected requirement for a top six finish, so West Brom would need approximately 63 points from 33 games: automatic promotion form.
A big ask? Certainly. But we saw at Nottingham Forest last season how quickly things can change with the right appointment.
3) Working with what you’ve got
There may be a section of Albion fans who would welcome a more progressive coach than Dyche, after the dreary football under Steve Bruce, Valérien Ismaël and Sam Allardyce.
The problem they have, however, is that there isn’t the ball-playing ability in the squad to maximize a more expansive approach, certainly while midfielder Semi Ajayi is injured and John Swift is considered not defensively attuned enough to embrace a deeper midfield role.
Dara O’Shea and Martin Kelly are not ball-playing defenders by trade, nor is Kyle Bartley when he returns, while Jake Livermore, Okay Yokuslu and Jayson Molumby are not midfielders who are likely to accept the ball off the defence with a man on their back, turn their opponent and ping a diagonal to the flank.
From that perspective, the next manager has to be capable of being pragmatic with what they have.
Edwards, for instance, struggled with an imbalanced Watford squad because he didn’t have what he needed to suit a very specific formation and system.
Dyche can get results with what he has right now, and with two months to go until the January transfer window, that has to be a significant factor behind the decision-making process.
4) Managing a club, not just a team
When speaking to LadBible last month, Dyche said he is open-minded about going into difficult situations at clubs which require managing upwards well.
“When you’ve been in the game a long time like I have been, you can keep your finger on what’s going on behind the scenes at clubs.
“You sometimes hear about ownerships, about situations of clashes with Chief Executives, Directors of Football or whatever it may be.
“So you might be going ‘not sure about that’ whilst being open-minded enough to go ‘well, could I manage that?’, because you’re a manager don’t forget.
“If you look at it logically, you’re there to align that situation so if that’s your job, that’s what you’re tasked with, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
This gives Dyche an advantage over talented coaches like Carlos Corberan, Rob Edwards or Michael Carrick, who would likely want to work within a better footballing structure than the one West Brom can offer.
Plus, the fact that the club has made so many mistakes under Lai Guochan’s regime means there is a likelihood of Dyche getting the level of autonomy that he wants.
5) Getting the best out of Jed Wallace
Wallace has been West Brom’s stand-out performer so far this season: hardly surprising, given the consistency the winger displayed over five years at Millwall.
An outspoken, straight-talking figure who has had success playing in a traditional 4-4-2 outfit, as well as other formations, Wallace is one who would be likely to massively enjoy Dyche’s style of management.
And, if Albion can get the 28-year-old ticking to the max, whether as a right winger or in a more central, free attacking role, that will go a long way to overturning this disappointing start.
6) Media, man management and culture-setting
In truth, these could be three different categories, yet they all come down to the same strengths of Dyche.
They are his ability to be playful, whilst making a serious point. His capacity to be likeable, as well as authoritative.
This fine blend of qualities make him appear well in the media, somebody fans can get behind, they allow him to manage players to perform to the best of their ability whilst creating a thriving working culture.
Dyche has taken time to explore successful organisations in other industries, and work out what they do to culture-set, then look at if and how that can be applied to football.
When a phone went off in a press conference, he answered it on the journalist’s behalf and made a joke out of the situation by speaking to the caller, then passed it back to the journalist and walked out of the room: he was telling people to turn their phones off in pressers, but in a funny way.
Internally, he has a wheel of fortune for punishments when players commit a minor offence, like leaving a shirt on the floor: subtly keeping people tight, honest and in-line, but not in a way that breeds tension.
It’s an art that Dyche has mastered and while these things might not be exactly what wins his side three points on any given Saturday, it can add to a level of cohesion and synergy that has contributed to what his sides have achieved against the odds.