With Sam Allardyce leaving the Hawthorns at the end of last season after their relegation from the top flight, West Brom have been in the market for a new manager to lead them in the Championship once again.
According to Sky Sports, Baggies’ fans wait for a new manager could be over very shortly.
Former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner is close to joining the West Midlands side and barring any hiccups in the final stages of negotiations, the German is set to be unveiled in the next day or two after being a bookies outsider for the majority of the recruitment process.
There has been a very mixed reaction on social media to this appointment from West Brom supporters, but his promotion with Huddersfield back in 2017 will give hope to some of those who are sceptical about his appointment over Chris Wilder, who was initially the favourite to take over.
What does Wagner have to offer though? What could have persuaded the board to opt for him over other candidates? Let’s take a look at three qualities he will bring as the club look to secure promotion back to the Premier League.
Play-off success and the resilience that came with it
Before Wagner’s arrival at Huddersfield Town, they were nowhere near competing for a play-off spot let alone a place in the Premier League.
The thought of the Terriers making it to the Premier League was almost impossible to imagine for some – but they quietly went about their business and put themselves in with a chance of getting to the promised land with a top six finish. There’s no doubting the playoffs are a lottery, they had to be in it to win it and they were.
Against a Reading side that finished third and had recruited very well the summer before, Sheffield Wednesday who were in high spirits under Carlos Carvalhal and Fulham who were a force to be reckoned with under Slavisa Jokanovic though, this would be a very difficult task.
Nonetheless, Huddersfield battled through a gruelling semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday before going the distance with Reading in the final and beating them on penalties to win a place in the Premier League.
This playoff success could come in handy if West Brom narrowly miss out on automatic promotion.
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Calmness under pressure
Huddersfield were put through two nail-biting penalty shootouts in that play-off campaign and they succeeded in both of them.
After winning the first shootout at Hillsborough, they could have easily folded against Reading in what was one of the most important games in their history.
The difference between promotion and relegation is stark. Look at the state Reading are in right now, that could have been Huddersfield in the short-term and quite frankly, the Royals have not recovered since that day in 2017.
After being relegated last season, West Brom are one of the strongest teams in the second tier and will therefore be expected to be up there come the end of 2021/22. Wagner’s calmness under pressure will be dearly needed in this situation.
Although it’s often important to have experience in the Championship, Wagner’s time in Germany with Borussia Dortmund’s second team and more recently, Schalke, will be of great use to the side he is set to take over.
Not only will the gaffer have experienced different playing styles, but he will have also been able to watch a wide range of players and decide what players from the German leagues, if any, could potentially fit into his system at West Brom.
Notably, Wagner brought Chris Lowe over from FC Kaiserslautern which turned out to be a successful move – you could imagine the manager doing something similar this time around as well.
There’s no doubting his time at Schalke was a particularly difficult one but he will be refreshed, raring to go and with a point to prove that he can cut it in management.
Although his time at Huddersfield was impressive, the spell at the recently relegated Bundesliga side will have slightly tainted his CV.
Now is his chance to put that right.