Following West Brom’s defeat to West Ham United last night, Sam Allardyce announced that he would not continue in his role as Head Coach at the club. He felt that Albion needed a more youthful, committed manager, something he could no longer offer.

Ultimately, Allardyce was Albion’s eleventh manager in the last ten years and so he is right – the club needs a long-term, passionate manager to move it forward. We take a look at five potential candidates who fit the bill.

Valérien Ismaël

Embed from Getty Images

Valérien Ismaël’s senior managerial career got off to an impressive start.

He initially achieved success at a number of B teams across Germany; his first role came at Hannover II, where he led them to a sixth-placed finish with a record of 14 wins, eight draws, and 12 losses. The following season, he guided them to fourth place with a record of 16 wins, six draws, and eight losses.

In 2013, Ismaël then want on to manage Vfl Wolfsburg II. Immeditately, Wolfsburg II won the Regionalliga Nord and lost narrowly in the subsequent promotion play-off.

Given his success at Wolfsburg’s B team, he then became the Head Coach of the main team in the Bundesliga, though only managed four months in the job after a poor start.

Ismaël’s next big job took the form of Austrian heavyweights LASK; in the first few months of his tenure, he led the team to the best start in the club’s history (17 points from 8 games). He also led LASK to a first ever appearance in the Champions League Playoffs.

After falling to the Europa League, Ismaël led LASK to the quarter-finals, bowing out respectably to Manchester United. He left at the end of the season following a poor restart following the coronavirus-induced break.

This takes Ismaël right up to where most Albion fans will know him from: Barnsley. Ismaël joined mid-way through the season, overseeing one of the most impressive Championship season’s in recent memory. Barnsley are currently in the midst of a play-off campaign, trailing 1-0 to Swansea at half-time.

Given that Barnsley do not hold the same financial power as some of their EFL counterparts, and given that they survived on the last day of the season last year, this is an incredibly impressive feat for Ismaël and the club. It also shows that his ability to take a team into playoff positions was not confined to B-level teams in Germany.

Ismaël is a relatively young manager, too; at just 45 years old, this is his first job in England, though he knows the country well having played for Crystal Palace in 1998. After all, this is what Allardyce noted Albion want; youth, patience and stability. In this case, almost certainly depending on Barnsley’s play-off fate, Ismaël is an interesting proposition.