West Bromwich Albion journalist Luke Hatfield has expressed his surprise at new boss Valerien Ismael being given a four-year contract in an interview with the Football Fancast, with the Frenchman now set to stay at The Hawthorns until 2025.
45-year-old Ismael was appointed by the Championship side at the end of last month after a month-long managerial search that saw a shareholder veto for a popular boardroom choice, rejection and a Director of Football depart the club by mutual consent.
Even though it took a long time for the process to conclude because of those three reasons, Ismael’s arrival is an exciting one for many West Brom fans after seeing the Frenchman take Barnsley from 21st to fifth in the Championship table last season before the Tykes’ narrow loss to Swansea in the play-off semi-finals.
How well do you know West Brom’s celebrity supporters? – Can you score 20/20?
Despite his success in South Yorkshire, Express and Star reporter Luke Hatfield is surprised at the length of the new manager’s deal and how much of a far cry this decision is from the appointment of his predecessor Sam Allardyce back in December.
Speaking to the Football Fancast about this four-year deal, Hatfield said: “It was a little bit of a surprise.
“It’s certainly a bold move by Albion in terms of they’re really showing a sign for the future here.
“I think Albion fans were getting a bit frustrated in that, you know, the likes of Big Sam came in and it did seem very short-termist.
“This seems the exact opposite, a four-year deal for Valerien Ismael.”
Ismael arrived just in time for the start of pre-season and has already made a key move in the transfer market, tying former Barnsley captain down to a three-year deal at the Hawthorns on the expiry of his contract at Oakwell.
More signings could be set to follow in the next few weeks as they prepare for their opening game against AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium – a huge test for the 45-year-old against another new manager in Scott Parker.
With the short-term nature of football nowadays and West Brom’s promotions and relegations in recent years, it is surprising to see Ismael get such a long deal at the club despite doing so well at Barnsley last season.
At Oakwell, there were no real targets for the former Wolfsburg manager to meet other than securing the Tykes’ Championship status. But at West Brom, they will be expecting to go straight back up with the calibre of players they currently have and the resources he’s likely to have access to in the transfer market.
However, if he does well and another side approaches him for a potential move, he may repay the faith shown in him by the club and stay loyal to the cause.
The Baggies will want to be promoted and find a way of staying there for the long-term, something Ismael will see as a major project. So perhaps there is logic behind this long-term contract.