Jeremy Peace is the man most responsible for the managerial merry-go-round at West Bromwich Albion. A man who talks to the media rarely, has proved himself to be incompetent when it comes to hiring and firing managers. Only, at West Brom, they’re no longer managers.
The appointment of Tony Pulis may just, at last, be an appointment that can lift the Baggies up the Premier League. But, take note, Pulis is another Head Coach at the Hawthorns. Like those Peace has appointed in the recent past, Pulis is not the manager. Jeremy Peace believes in that approach. Previous head coaches have not had control of buying and selling players. It has been stated that Pulis will. We shall see.
Tony Pulis is a very good manager and a motivator of footballers who are prepared to work for a living. He will pick the team and choose the players who leave and arrive. That’s the official line and that is what will have to happen. Or else Pulis, a strong character who doesn’t suffer fools at all, will leave.
Peace has made much over the years of his being a West Brom fan. That hasn’t protected him from coming under fire from fellow supporters. While they were busy chanting “You don’t know what you’re doing” at Alan Irvine, they also say Peace is running out of time.
He sees it differently: “The fans understand the way we operate. It’s a badge of honour to them that we are sensibly run and can stay in the Premier League. I’m sure they’d like us to spend bigger transfer fees, and more money on wages to get the right people, but they’ve seen there are enough cases where people have done that and not worked out.
“Fans write into me, almost Edwardian letters, very nice letters, sensible letters, making good points, so I write back. Social media seems to have killed the supporter clubs. All the talk is on Twitter.”
When it comes to his refusal to undertake radio and television interviews, Peace says: “We are very low profile. We are modest people, the club and me personally. We like to be below the radar. I don’t really talk.”
That short sighted approach from a Chairman is at odds with the football world we live in. If Peace is so insistent on changing the Head Coach as often as he has, then he should be explaining his actions to supporters.
He has made some woeful Head Coach appointments. Pepe Mel came from Spain, but wasn’t allowed to bring his own backroom team. Alan Irvine, a much respected coach on the training ground, was given the top job despite having failed previously at Sheffield Wednesday.
Even when Peace has appointed the right man, he has pulled the trigger too soon. West Brom players were dismayed when Steve Clarke was fired after a short run of bad results. Clarke had a better record at the club than any of those who Peace appointed thereafter.
When Alan Irvine was appointed I tipped West Brom to go down at a good price. Now I would be backing them to stay up. Just so long as Pulis stays.
I told members of VG Tips to back Crystal Palace to stay up last season once Pulis walked into Selhurst Park. He kept them up.
Peace says he changed the role of the manager at the club after his experiences with the likes of Bryan Robson and Gary Megson.
He says: “I said we have to change the way we operate. I’d sat with Gary and Bryan, and they’d say: ‘I want that one’ about a player. We’d say: ‘What about this lot over here?’ ‘No, I want that one.’ We’d say: “If we are in a market of one, where’s the price going? Where are the wages going? They are going to get bigger. If you have four or five all the same from a footballing perspective for one position, at least you can then see what offers the best value. I can’t run this business like this any more, we’ve got to have choice.
“I spent time going around Europe, went to Porto, Udinese, Rennes, and had a chat about how they were structured. Germany was interesting. They have a supervisory board that sits over the top of the football operation. That’s the way we are evolving.”
In my opinion, writes Vernon Grant, the real loss at The Hawthorns was that of technical director Dan Ashworth. He was an ideal conduit between the Chairman and the Head Coach. I’m not sure West Brom as a club adequately replaced Ashworth.
But now they have Pulis and he has immediately signalled he will do things his way by clearing out the existing backroom staff at West Brom. He has brought in the experienced Paul Jewell and Dave Kemp to assist him. And he will bring in his own choice of players.
If anyone can bring stability to the club, it’s Tony Pulis. Providing the Chairman doesn’t get in his way, this Head Coach can ensure peace in our time at West Bromwich Albion.