Fragility of football management highlighted again
The fragility of football management was again highlighted as the Albion's two most recent opponents both parted company with their managers after back-to-back wins by Chris Hughton's men.
The new Chinese owners at Wolves clearly thought 87 days of Walter Zenga was enough at Molineux, while winning the League One title in May obviously counted for very little for Gary Caldwell at Wigan Athletic.
Par for the course these days? Certainly a far cry from the Albion in 1988-89 when, newly promoted to the old second division (the Championship for younger readers), the Albion under Barry Lloyd recorded eight straight defeats at the start of the season, six in the league, and an embarrassing two-leg defeat to fourth division Southend in the League Cup. It wasn’t until October 1 when Leeds United arrived at the Goldstone that the Albion chalked up their first points by winning 2-1, before two more back-to-back defeats, so one win in 11. Yet the board stayed faithful to Lloyd who repaid them by finishing in 19th place with 51 points, nine away from the drop zone.
Lloyd was allowed to build slowly, culminating with a Wembley play-off final in 1991, where the Albion were 90 minutes away from a return to the top flight. History reports not only a 3-1 defeat to Notts County but a resulting financial meltdown which almost threatened the very existence of the club.
Would a ‘Lloyd’ scenario have played out in today’s game? Not a chance, the majority of chairmen and owners want instant results, quick fix success. Thankfully, I don’t put Tony Bloom in the category, bizarrely the dragging the heels of the Sami Hyypia situation highlighted this, thankfully he did eventually leave to be replaced by Chris Hughton.
To slightly edit PT Barnum’s famous soundbite, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time”, but nevertheless I am still amazed at some of the negativity from small sections of the Albion support.
I think most football followers would concede that there’s possibly more chance of Cliff and the Shadows getting back together than Newcastle not running away with the Championship, but the Albion find themselves at the forefront of the chasing pack with both an automatic and a play-off winners place still up for grabs.
We used to all say “In Gus we trust”, well with all due respect to Mr Poyet, whose place in Albion history is cemented, the trust I have in Hughton supersedes that.
The visit of Norwich this Saturday is a real test, perhaps one of those pivotal moments in the season? A near full house at the Amex, for a genuine six-pointer to see Hughton pit his wits against the club who sacked him, gives it even more edge.
It’s almost been a case of “nearly but not quite” in many fans’ eyes for the Albion this season, so a definitive victory against the Canaries will go a long way to winning over some of the people who still doubt Albion’s promotion credentials. For what it’s worth, I think we’ll last the course, and certainly be in with more than a shout come May.
n Superb stuff from Worthing under-18s who have emulated last season’s squad by reaching the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup for the second successive season.
The legendary balls from the velvet bag at the FA have thrown an exciting visit to South East London to play Millwall sometime next week. A great and never-to-be forgotten night awaits, and is thoroughly deserved by both management and squad.
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