Stuart James on 25 February 2018
Alan Pardew will cling to his job as West Bromwich Albion manager for another week after the club’s board agreed to stand by the 56-year-old despite growing supporter unrest. However, his future is under serious consideration and another defeat on Saturday, when his side visit Watford, will almost certainly bring the sack.
The damaging 2-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield Town on Saturday leaves Albion anchored to the bottom of the Premier League, seven points adrift of safety, with only 10 matches remaining. The club’s hierarchy are deeply concerned by their league position but also the fact that Pardew has had no positive impact on the team’s fortunes since his appointment in November. Albion have won only one of Pardew’s 14 league matches and a section of the fans turned on the manager in the closing stages of the game against Huddersfield.
Yet Albion are not minded to make a change at the moment and risk further upheaval in a season that has been full of turmoil. Talks took place between Guochuan Lai, Albion’s owner, and members of the board in the wake of Saturday’s defeat but there was a collective agreement at the end of those discussions that Pardew should remain in charge for now.
There is a feeling within the club that, with more than a quarter of the season remaining, the points are still available for Albion to haul themselves clear and Pardew will be supported – in the short-term at least – on that basis. At the same time there is no escaping the sense of disappointment about Pardew’s reign so far. As well as presiding over a miserable run of results Pardew pushed for the mid-season team-bonding trip in Barcelona that proved a disaster and ended with four players breaking a midnight curfew and allegedly stealing a taxi.
Part of the problem for Albion when weighing up what to do with Pardew is the lack of credible and serious managerial alternatives. It is a situation that echoes the sort of issues Stoke City faced when deliberating over whether to dismiss Mark Hughes last month.
Albion recognise, however, that the current run of form cannot be allowed to continue without taking any action. With that in mind, there is an acceptance at the Hawthorns that another setback at Watford would trigger a further review of Pardew’s position and probably end with him being cut loose only three months after replacing Tony Pulis.
Another key consideration for Albion in all this is what will happen in the summer and beyond, given the club may well be playing Championship football and looking for a manager to win promotion. For the moment, however, Albion are not giving up all hope that they can survive with Pardew at the helm.