Why Pardew won't save his job - and West Brom are already down

Alex Keble by Alex Keble / 23 February 2018, 10:05

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As the relegation scrap intensifies the search for a bump in league form has reached the point of desperation. A fortnight ago West Bromwich Albion took the bizarre and unprecedented step of sacking their chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman, presumably as punishment for hiring Alan Pardew and to ignite some sort of emotional response from the Baggies players.

Needless to say it hasn't worked, and instead the move would appear to have further destabilised the setup at the Hawthorns. Defeat to Southampton in the FA Cup has led to numerous reputable media outlets reporting that Pardew has two league games in which to save his job, but it's too little too late for West Brom. Pardew is almost certainly doomed - as are the Baggies.

The short-termism that pervades Premier League boardrooms, triggered by the financial necessity of survival as England's top flight becomes ever richer, is about to reach a significant milestone. West Brom will soon become the first club to sack two managers within a single campaign. Here's why.

Huddersfield Town were drifting towards relegation before their thumping 4-1 victory over Bournemouth, which saw David Wagner's side suddenly rediscover their aggressive high-pressing tactics after months of gradual deterioration. Confident once again in their bold approach, they should pummel West Brom's midfield this weekend in the first of Pardew's two auditions.

The former Crystal Palace manager, who has won just one of his 13 league games in charge, continues to play in a flat 4-4-2 formation that is simply too static - and light on central midfielders - to cope with Huddersfield's approach. The hosts may pick up a point, but victory seems highly unlikely.

The second match, away at Watford, is even more difficult. Javier Gracia's side are extremely unpredictable of late, although their home form has finally started to pick up; a brilliant 4-1 win against Chelsea at Vicarage Road exemplified their tenacity and tactical complexity when on form. Again, it is Pardew's weak central midfield (Gareth Barry is too slow to operate here without two supporting players) that will be their downfall. Watford almost exclusively attack through the middle of the pitch in a 3-4-2-1 formation that operates with two central attacking midfielders.

And this tactical prediction doesn't even take into account West Brom's woeful defensive organisation in 2018. Pardew's side have conceded nine goals in their last three league matches, failing to perform even the most rudimentary defensive actions - a sure sign that the manager has lost the dressing room and morale is extremely low. To make matters worse, it's very difficult to see how West Brom can score a goal in either game given Daniel Sturridge and Nacir Chadli won't be back until March. Jay Rodriguez, their top scorer with four league goals, is no longer in a purple patch.

Not that a new manager will be able to prevent relegation. Gracenote's Euro Club Index, which ran a simulation of the run-in one million times, per the BBC, gave the club a 20% chance of survival. That feels generous. Gracenote predict between 36 and 37 points will be required to stay in the Premier League this year, meaning Albion must win another 16 points from their final 11 games, or 1.45 points-per-game - a higher ratio than they have achieved in a single season since 1985.

West Brom's frantic decision-making this season has all-but ensured they are heading for the Championship, while Pardew, having failed on all fronts, will surely be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.


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