This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Lincoln City boss Michael Appleton is reportedly now the frontrunner to take charge at West Brom, according to Football Insider.
Appleton has been in charge of the Imps since 2019, and has clearly made a good impression whilst with the League One side.
He guided them to the League One play-off final this season, but they narrowly missed out on promotion into the Championship, after being beaten by Blackpool at Wembley.
But that doesn’t mean that Appleton won’t be managing in the second tier of English football next season, with West Brom making contact with Appleton over becoming their new manager ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
The Baggies are searching for a new manager, after Sam Allardyce stepped down from the managerial role earlier this year, following the club’s relegation from the Premier League.
We ask our Football League World writers what they make of West Brom’s rumoured interest in appointing Appleton this summer, and whether they think he could be a success with the Baggies or not.
Some West Brom fans may think that Appleton is a bit of a step down from a Chris Wilder or Frank Lampard who were both linked with the job, but this could actually be a really good appointment.
Appleton knows the club inside out as an ex-player and also having coached from the academy all the way up into a senior role, so he will understand the gravitas of the task at hand.
He’s clearly a good coach as well, especially with younger talent and that’s been proven at both Oxford United and Lincoln City recently, albeit in League One, and out of any potential candidate Appleton could be the one to nurture any promising prospects coming out of the Baggies academy.
Once managerial sackings start to happen inevitably a few months into the 2021-22 campaign, I could see Appleton being at the head of many markets if he stays at Lincoln, but if West Brom swoop for him now then they could have their new manager for years to come and in my eyes it would be smart business.
This would be an interesting appointment for West Brom to make and it would be a bit of a different approach than if they had opted to go ahead with their move for Chris Wilder. Michael Appleton has not got prior Championship promotion-winning experience but he had done an excellent job at Lincoln City.
Appleton is a manager that has managed to transform Lincoln’s style of play on a restricted budget and brought in some excellent signings that he has been able to develop on the training gound. Even though they missed out on promotion, his achievement in taking them to the play-off final deserves a lot of respect.
The Lincoln manager also knows West Brom from his time working as a coach at the Hawthorns. Therefore, he will understand how the club operates and know what is expected from supporters in terms of what they want to see from their side.
The 45-year-old would be a gamble, but it is one that might be worth taking given that talks with Wilder have now ended. He will try and develop players at the Hawthorns and would also be able to get them playing in the right way as he has done with his Lincoln side.
Can you score full marks on this 21-question West Brom quiz?
I’m not too sure about this one.
I’ve been impressed with the job that Appleton has done with Lincoln City so far in his tenure at Sincil Bank, but this might be too big of a step up for the Imps boss at this stage.
He’s still quite early into his managerial career, and you wouldn’t want to risk being dismissed early on into any job you’re at, and that could prove to be the case with West Brom.
The Baggies will be expected to win promotion back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, and I think they need a manager that has proven experience in the Championship.
That makes it even more surprising that the Baggies aren’t pursuing a move for Chris Wilder anymore, and Appleton would be too big of a risky appointment for West Brom in my eyes.