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Premier League clubs playing it safe

The appointment of Alan Pardew as West Brom manager and the imminent arrival of Sam Allardyce at Goodison Park shows a dismal lack of creative thinking by the respective clubs’ owners.  I’ve previously written about why the former England manager shouldn’t even have been considered for the Everton job, but the club have rapidly downgraded their ambitions for the season after winning only two league matches since the middle of August.

Past behaviour is often considered to be the most accurate predictor of future success.  For this reason, news of both appointments have been met with indifference by many fans of the two clubs.  I’ll put my neck on the line and suggest that Pardew will prove an initial success, suffer long winless runs, return briefly to winning ways, before a run of defeats eventually leads to his departure.  The 56-year-old has experienced similar spells at previous clubs West Ham, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.  Allardyce meanwhile, will begin by telling everyone about the size of the task at hand, but will avoid relegation with some ease considering the strength of the squad.  He will then fail to lead the club to the heights its owners aspire.  

By preparing the ground for Allardyce to join the club, Everton’s board have again overlooked the merits of younger, more promising contenders such as Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche.  Despite finishing in the top half of the league last year, West Brom would have struggled to entice either manager.  However, they too failed to think outside the box.  The club should perhaps have more closely considered the merits of appointing a candidate such as Chris Wilder, who has earned promotions with Northampton Town and Sheffield United in consecutive years.    

The reticence of clubs to risk their Premier League status by employing a slightly more left field choice is understandable.  However, it can pay dividends.  Marco Silva was largely unknown in Britain before he nearly performed a miracle by keeping Hull in the top division last season.  Similarly, Nuno Espirito Santo was unheralded on these shores before taking over at Wolves.  He has now led the Midlands club to the top of the Championship.

Early in their careers Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp proved their ability after gaining opportunities at elite clubs in their own domestic leagues.  The board members of more Premier League clubs need to be willing to unearth a maverick of their own.

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